The new year is upon us, and with it, the crafting of resolutions for bettering ourselves and the lives of those around us. Naturally, the posture of a resolution is forward-looking and as a society, we are often encouraged to continuously look ahead, leaving our pasts behind. Certainly, you have heard the benevolent quotes: “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way” or “Look at life through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror.” While these make excellent Facebook biographies, they may not be the best to live by in all circumstances. Take the second quote, for example. Likely not all drivers share the same opinion, but the rear-view mirror is a crucial element in safely arriving at any destination, despite the fact you are glancing behind to help safely travel forward. Here are a couple of ways to productively glance behind as we turn into 2022:
Celebrate past success
Celebrating your past success will train your brain to pursue more success in the future. When you celebrate success, your body experiences a chemical reaction by releasing dopamine, which leaves you feeling happy and motivated. Renowned Stanford psychologist B.J. Fogg often says, “Emotions create habits”. This means that when you celebrate success, your emotional and physical response will make your body crave more of that positive feeling. Over time, the more we feel that positive emotion, the more motivated our brains will be to achieve success. As that feedback loop intensifies, a new habit is formed.
Reflect on past mistakes
Reflecting on past mistakes with humility is an art form one can only learn through the many trials of life. While our victories can be many, it is often the failures we are quicker to recall. However, examining our mistakes is sometimes the very thing that prevents us from repetition in the future, perhaps leading to greater success ahead. Revisiting mistakes in the past year, and perhaps beyond, with grace, humility, and an appetite for growth is an excellent place to start solidifying resolutions.
So, what would it look like to set aside an intentional time of reflection at the end of each year to help guide our resolutions? Was it a year full of success that needs to be celebrated? Or was it a year full of mistakes that need some reflection? No matter the answer, do yourself a favor and take a look in the rearview mirror before you accelerate into 2022 and beyond.
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