I'm sitting here in the Los Angeles sunshine today (we have had a couple of really warm days), doing what I love to do this time of the year.
And that is to reflect.
I am in one sense a very future driven person. I have always been a big dreamer. However, part of dreaming big and being able to accomplish big goals and dreams is to also be able to reflect on the past.
In order to achieve goals we need to learn, develop, and grow in some way. Right? After all, what point is a goal if it doesn't include a challenge? The whole point of a goal is to achieve something we haven't achieved yet, to be able to do something we cannot do yet.
In order to achieve something challenging, we need to become something we are not today. We need to develop skills that we don't have yet. It's not about changing who we are. It's about becoming a better version of yourself. It's about evolving as human beings. It's about living and enjoying life.
And in order to evolve, learn and develop effectively we USE THE PAST.
Yes, the past is wonderful. The effective learner is the one who uses past experiences and transform them into new learning experiences. Every new experience becomes integrated with past learning experiences.
I've written many times about the art of transforming so-called "mistakes", "failures", etc. into successes.
The dilemma is that, although we all tend to measure the present against some past experiences, many have not been trained to transform it into new learning. For many, past experiences have become the very roadblocks for future learning, rather than being the building blocks for extraordinary achievements. Many people transform failures into more failures, rather than into successes and an empowered life.
Learning effectively means transforming "successes" and "failures" - i.e. every experience - into a new, more worthwhile, experience. And we cannot learn and develop effectively unless we understand how to use the past.
However, in order to use dreams and visions of a great future as magnets for our actions, and in order to be able to reflect on the past, it all begins with developing a high level of awareness. We want to develop greater awareness of the present moment, as well as awareness (and knowledge) of who we are and what drives us.
I believe one of the biggest lacks of awareness among humans is the lack of awareness of fear. We do everything we can to pretend we don't experience fear - fear of living our dreams, fear of doing what we love to do, fear of singing out, fear of not being good enough, fear of making a mistake, fear of what others might think of us, fear that I might fall short, fear of my own potential, fear of being wrong, fear that my beliefs might be completely erroneous, etc
But awareness is more than being aware of fears and emotions. Many times we are not aware of what are body is saying to us until we are in serious pain and it becomes much more difficult to fix. And many times we are simply unaware of solutions because of lack of education and research.
So Future, Past and Present are equally important. I believe it serves us well if we understand and are able to distinguish which is which, and also understand how they affect each other. Our ability to reflect on the past and envision a future is what sets us apart from other species. Let's use it to our benefit.
I highly encourage you to use these last days of the year to reflect on the year that has been (and previous years). Reflect on the good and the bad. What did you experience that you would consider "mistakes" and "failures"? Were you able to use those experiences to evolve as a human being? Maybe there are patterns in your life that you are sick and tired of?
What about your singing this year?
What gives you a sense of gratitude? (As a matter of fact, once you get used to this kind of thinking, you realize that it becomes easier and easier to actually feel gratitude towards everything - including the failures, mistakes, pain, the time you were burned, or someone was mean to you."
In fact, I never engage in silly New Year resolutions. In the next blog post, I'll explain why I don't, and why I consider them meaningless - even destructive.
Feel fee to share some of your reflections of the past year.