158: Looking Backwards to Move Forwards | Tanya Dalton Skip to the content
January 21, 2020   |   Episode #:

158: Looking Backwards to Move Forwards

In This Episode:

Becoming the person you dream of takes a lot of self-reflection and diving into the past to figure out who you wish to be in the future. Your history holds so many pearls of wisdom that can help you map out where you want to go and what direction to take. Today I am talking all about using your past as a springboard and motivator to help you move forward. I’ll be sharing the importance of sitting in discomfort and reflecting on who you’ve been and giving yourself permission to let go of the past.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea

All the good, bad and ugly have led you to where you are now.

Questions I Answer

  • How do I move forward from my past?
  • How can I forget about past mistakes?
  • What can I do to live intentionally?

Actions to Take

  • Please Note: Unfortunately, the download mentioned in this episode is no longer available.
  • Dive deep into those pearls of wisdom that your past has planted for you. Think about the lessons that you’ve learned and use them as a guide to how you’ll approach your future. Give yourself permission to let go of the past and use past regrets as a way to pave a better future toward becoming who you really want to be.

Key Topics in the Show

  • Using your past as a springboard to move forward

  • Accepting and reframing the way that you look at your past

  • Reflecting on who you used to be and how you feel about who you want to become

  • Deciding where you want to be and mapping out the direction you’ll take to get there

Show Transcript

This is Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast focused on using productivity not just to do more but to achieve what’s truly important to you, and this season is all about you, You 2.0. To learn more about yourself, take Tanya‘s free quiz and discover your own productivity style at Tanyadalton.com. 

And now get ready. Here’s your host, Tanya Dalton. 

Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 158, Looking Backwards to Move Forward. That’s right. Today, I want to talk about something that so many people get hung up on when they’re thinking about making changes or they’re making adjustments in their lives: The past. I know, I feel like I should have done like, “dun, dun, dun,” afterwards, because the past always seems to be one of these things that holds us back. That we feel, “Oh, because of my past, I can’t move forward.” Or, “Because of my past, I can’t do this.” Our past is one of those things that we like to look at as an excuse. Let’s be honest. It’s really easy to blame our past, but really our past can be a benefit. It can be the springboard we need in order to move forward. 

Now, as you know, this is the second episode of our newest season, season 13, called You 2.0. So all season long we’re going to be exploring ways to make some small tweaks, some minor adjustments that will help us feel, well, maybe a little more in control of who we are, to feel a little bit better when we look in the mirror about what we see looking back at us, to help get rid of some of that negative self-talk that we like to give to ourselves. So each episode is designed to help move you forward, to help drive you towards that person you’re really wanting to be. It’s not about changing who you are, it’s not about shifting into a whole different persona. It’s really about, “What can you do to make yourself the best version of you you can be? 

So that’s why we’re talking about the past, because it does tend to hold us back, or we think it does, even though maybe it really doesn’t. Because you know what? We all have a past. We all have things we don’t like. We all have things we’re ashamed of or that we wish no one knew about. We all got it. So even those people you look at who you think, “Oh, they’ve got it all together,” they have a past. We all have a past, and it’s so important to look backwards in order to move forward to being our very best version of ourselves. 

So today I want to dive into this daunting phrase, “the past.” I find that this is one of the biggest stumbling blocks that we encounter as we prepare to do some of the nitty gritty work that positive growth really requires. So don’t worry if this makes you nervous, talking about the past, or if you’re like, “Oh, I just don’t even want to think about it.” I’ve even got a download for you this episode that I’ll be sharing with you a little bit later to make this even easier, because here’s the truth. Looking back isn’t always easy. It’s not always pretty, but it’s something that is really important for us to do. 

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I think so often we get hung up on our past mistakes, our failures, and the things that we regret, to the point that we make ourselves afraid of what could happen next. You know, “What if I make the same mistake again?” Or even worse, “What if I make an even bigger mistake or I have a bigger failure than ever before?” We look at the past as something that we often feel ashamed of and we want to run away from it rather than looking at it as this accumulation of all the things we’ve endured, the strengths, the courage we’ve exhibited, even when we didn’t realize it, and it’s evidence of all the good things we’ve experienced as a result of it. We kind of want to shove it under the bed, you know, exactly the same way that I cleaned my room when I was 13 years old. But just like when I was 13, when we pull all the crap out, when we spread it out in front of us and we take a good hard look, we’ll see that there are treasures hidden there. They’ve just been gathering dust under that bed. 

You see, what we forget is that all the trials we’ve gone through up to this very moment are the very things that have shaped us into the people we are today and the people we’re striving to become tomorrow. The You 2.0 that we’re talking about throughout this whole season. Every failure, every mistake, every experience, the good, the bad, the ugly, has in one way or another led you to this exact moment here today. Those are the treasures that were hidden there, lumped under the bed. Those are the things in the moment that felt like they were happening to you, but you can now see that those things were happening for you, to help you become who you are right now at this very minute. 

And what’s even more important to remember is that you and only you have the power to determine how you will let your past influence you as time continues to move along. You hold that power. We think the past has power over us, but we wield 

the power over the past in how we look at it and how we reflect back on it, on how we feel about it. And I think that’s so important to remember. And you know, it’s true. We can’t travel back in time. We can’t change the parts of our past that we’re not proud of. What’s important to remember is that the past is where it should be. It’s in the past, and what matters more is how we can use our past to our benefit in the future. Ask yourself, would you rather stay stuck living in the past, in a life that no longer exists, or would you rather celebrate all the things you’ve been through so you can really embrace the pearls of wisdom in your past that have been left there for you to find? 

In The Joy of Missing Out, in my book, I shared a part of my rough history with you. I shared some really raw and emotional things, and we talked about the idea that we can take our experiences and allow them to swallow us whole, or we can use them as fuel to drive us, and that’s what I want you to start thinking about when we talk about your past. How can you use the things that happened to you, whether they’re good or bad, or terrible or awful, or whatever it is, how can you use that as a way to push you forward, to drive you forward? 

You see, the past can be a motivating pool that we use as a springboard into the future that we envision for ourselves. It doesn’t have to be this dead weight, this anchor around our necks. It can be what drives us and pushes us forward. If we consider the person that we were 10 years ago, and think about if someone asked us 

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then, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” How many of us can honestly say we knew exactly where we would be and the kind of person we would become? In other words, how many of you listening right now accurately predicted when the decade began, you know, way back in 2010, where you’d be right now in 2020? Sure, maybe you had a general idea in mind of where the future would have for you, but I’m going to guess, in one way or another, your vision of the future 10 years ago looks different from where you are today, right? Maybe drastically different, maybe slightly different, but it’s not exactly as you dreamed it would be. 

Maybe you have this version of who you thought you were going to be, or who you were supposed to be, and there’s a good chance it doesn’t match perfectly with reality. We need to release that. We need to let go of what could have been. We have to release those stories of where we should be. Where you are now is exactly where you are supposed to be at this very moment, even if it doesn’t feel that way. I know you may be thinking to yourself, “There’s no way this is where I’m supposed to be,” but it is, because all the things you’ve accumulated, all of your past is for a purpose. 

There’s a reason there. 

You know, time has a funny way of changing us, whether we realize it or not. And with those changes comes changes to the way that we think, the goals that we set, the dreams that we have in mind. And the point is, it’s nearly impossible to grasp how much we change over time, day by day. These incremental shifts are happening 

all the time. After all, life unfolds for us just as quickly as one day ends and a new one begins, and we’re in the thick of it. We’re doing our very best to stay on the beaten path, but there are times where this path, because it’s unfolding slowly, changes for US. And so our vision of where we wanted to be 10 years ago is different from where we are today

We don’t always consider how the trajectory of our own evolution is constantly being shaped by our yesterdays, all of our yesterdays, from our childhood, all the way 

through adulthood. You are standing where you are because of your past, maybe even in spite of your past. All of it has shaped you. So whether the past worked you sour or treated you pretty well, what matters is how we can use it to our advantage as we move forward in a way that will help shape us for the better so that we can become the people we truly want to be five, 10, 20, 50 years from now. It all starts with you right now in the present, because guess what? Right now is going to be the past before you know it. Five years from now, this is the past. Two years from now, two minutes from now, this is in the past. 

So let’s start right now with thinking about who we are today, and instead of looking at the time we’ve already spent with either a sense of dread, or regret, or some other unsettling feeling, let’s reframe the way that we consider our past so it can become a trusted guidepost to light the path forward for us. Just like our North Star guides us forward, that light of our past shows us where we‘ve been. 

So how do you do it? Well, it all begins with reflecting on, you guessed it, the past. When you look back on how far you’ve come over the last five or 10 years, how do you feel deep down inside? Are you happy with the progress you’ve made? Are 

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you happy with how things in your life are going right now in this very moment, and how things are shaping up on the horizon? If you are, then what has helped you get to where you are today? Was it your strength, your courage, your resilience, careful planning, prioritizing, the goals you set to guide you along the way? What are some of the experiences you remember with joy and what are some of the experiences that changed you? All of these questions will help plant a seed in your mind as to where you’d like to go next. They can also help you consider the habits you might need to adopt in the mix of everyday life right now to give you a bigger boost towards the goals that will come to fruition once you’ve taken some time to reflect. So what are the things you want to have happen in the future? Right now, you can make those adjustments that affect you in the future, right? 

Now, if you look back at your past and you feel unhappy with where life has taken you, then let’s ask ourselves, what’s bringing up that unhappiness? Having things in our past that we don’t love could be looked at as a negative spot, but truly these hardships, these frustrations, these traumas are fertile ground. Purpose sometimes springs fresh from our pain, and I think that’s really important to remember, is that many times purpose is hidden there in those painful moments. We grow the most when we’re challenged or when we’re pushed outside of our comfort zone. 

So what would you have done differently in these experiences where you stumbled or you fell off track a bit? How can you use these trying times as a way to set yourself up for success in the future? What can you do right now, in the present, which will soon become the past, that will help you move forward in the future? By reflecting on where we‘ve been, we can gain a better sense of all the skills we’ve accumulated through all of our past triumphs and our tragedies that will help us get closer to the destination we have in mind. 

Now, I know you might be thinking to yourself, “Some of the things that happened to me in my past were out of my control.” And you know how I feel about that. When things are out of our control, what do we need to do? Need to let them go, right? You cannot control the things you cannot control. I mean, that sentence makes perfect sense. Easier said than done, but you have to let go of the things that were out of your hands, some of the trauma that maybe you experienced or the 

things that happened to you, we have to move forward from instead of ruminating on them. And I’m speaking of course from personal experience here. I’m telling you, especially if you’ve read my book, you know about the trauma that I have been through and the trauma that I had no control over, that we have to use that as fertile ground to move forward, to plant the seeds of who it is we want to become. 

And if you’re not satisfied with where you’ve been, with where life has taken you or with how things are going so far, don’t allow yourself to fall prey to the mindset that all hope is lost. Remember, you have the power to change the direction 

of your sails. There are things that happened to you in your past that you cannot control, the things you had no control over whatsoever. What you can control is your mindset right now. How you’re going to react to it, how you’re going to feel about it, and how you’re going to move forward. That is, out of your past that you could not 

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control, that is the one thing you can control. And I want you to remember that you have the ability to set that mindset, that you can choose your direction, that you can make choices today that impact your future in a very, very positive way. 

So in that way, when we give ourselves that time to reflect on our past, it gives us an opportunity to really look forward. You know, what does your ideal day look like 10 years from now? Where are you living? Where are you working? Are you retired? How are you spending your free time? And again, all of these questions can be used 

to help map out the direction you want to go, because you are the master of your sails. 

You are the person who makes the choices. You are the one who makes the investments in you for the future. Because when you reflect on where you want to wind up down the road, you can ask yourself whether your current behavior, your actions, your habits are really going to serve you well on that journey to that ideal future you envision, or do you need to make some adjustments? Because if you make adjustments in your life right now, you could get closer to that ideal life. It could really help that future image of where you want to be become a reality. And the chances 

are the answer here is yes. You know what? Forget it. I’m not going to say, “Chances are the answer might be yes.” It is yes. The answer is yes, because you have the ability today to make the choices that impact the future. And I have to remind you again, we are all works in progress. No one among us is perfect. There’s always room for positive growth. 

So what are the things you can do today to change your actions, to change your habits, to change the way that you’re thinking, to change your mindset so the future becomes even more real for you? Because when we take time to reflect on who we were in the past and who we are today, which is the present, and who we want to be in the future, and we really start digging into some of these tough questions, we can create a role model for ourselves, an ideal you that you can use as motivation to guide you towards your dream self, to your dream life. And in this way, 

the past no longer has to be this thing, this big elephant in the room that we’re always tripping ourselves on and struggling to get away from. Instead, it can encourage and even motivate us to become the person we want to be, comfortably living your best life. 

So how do you get that past to motivate you? How do you really push forward? We need to change how we look at it. And I want to talk about that in just a moment, but first I want to give a quick word to today’s sponsor. This week’s episode has been brought to you by inkWELL Press, which happens to be my productivity company. So if you’re ready for a fresh start to your year, if you feel like it’s a little time for You 2.0, then this is the ideal time to start customizing your own planner through inkWELL Press. You know how much I believe in making planning personal, and I’ve brought that to your planner. All the planners are designed to be customized to you and your life, and they’re aligned with everything we talk about here on the podcast. So right now we’re at the start of a fresh new year. It’s a great time to start creating a productivity system that truly does work for you. Head to inkwellpress.com 

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right now to get your year started right. That’s inkwellpress.com, and look for your 2020 planner. 

Okay, so here’s the real question. How do we get our past to help motivate us, to help reframe how we feel about it and to reframe how we look at our future? Because as we talked about, there’s things in your past you can’t control. In fact, you cannot control your past. What’s done is done, yesterday is long gone, but we can change, and we can have control over our future. And I want you to think about that for a minute. We cannot control the past, but we can control our future. We can take charge of our future. We can’t micromanage it. We can’t make every decision ahead of time. We can’t plan it out, map it out. Nothing else is going to happen, but we can take charge. We do have control over many of the choices that we’ll have in the future. 

We can take steps to ensure that our future will treat us kindly, as kindly as possible, that is, and that we’ll do our best with the time we have, that we get to spend when we get there. So many people dwell on the past, and it’s not really dwelling. It’s more like sitting in a swamp of regret. We want so badly to flash back however many years and fix this and fix that, and by the time we get out of our heads and into the present, right here, right now, that moment, that present is gone. It’s now in the past. Time is fleeting. It’s so important that we do our best to capture it, really use it to our advantage while we still got it. So instead of allowing your past to obscure your view of the future, let’s pivot that energy away from the negative space. 

Remember, the past is the past. It’s done. The more we can accept that who we were and what we did however many years or months or weeks or even days ago are things that have brought us to where we are today and holds no weight beyond that. Remember that. Your past holds no weight beyond the lessons you’ve learned. So when we acknowledge that, when we accept it, the easier it is to give ourselves the 

grace to take that first step away from it, take that first tiny step away from our past. Your worth is not determined by any mistakes you’ve made or the things you did that you might not feel very proud of. And even more than that, what you’ve done does not define you, nor does it define your potential. It’s such a common misconception that you have to heal from your past right away in order to find success, or the happiness that we crave. This false belief is especially true if our past has been traumatic. If we feel like the things in our past have really defined who we are. 

But here’s the truth. Healing is a process. Many times it’s a lifelong process. It doesn’t mean you have to wait until you are healed, until you are better, until you are perfect, until you’re ideal, to move forward. It doesn’t mean you have to let your healing stop you from moving on and starting into your future. Your healing can happen while you move forward into your future. The future’s coming. It’s already here, whether we like it or not. All that it requires is that we embrace it. 

So where do you want to be in your future? Where do you want today to take you? Maybe in the past you weren’t as strong as you wanted to be or as successful. Maybe you shied away from risks or you said no to opportunities that in hindsight, maybe you should have said yes to, or maybe you said yes to opportunities you 

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should have said no to. It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past. We have to move on. Give your past time to breathe. 

Listen, we all make mistakes. When we get stymied by them and we can’t move forward, that’s when we allow our past to take a firm grip on us and keep us from moving forward. That’s when we give our past more power than it deserves, when we give our past more control than it deserves. It’s impossible to heal and to move on from a mistake or a failure or any other uncomfortable event from our past if we never truly take the time to sit with that discomfort that surrounds those memories. 

So what does our feelings about that time we’ve already spent, what do they tell us about how we want to spend our time in the future? We need to shift our mindset and we need to reframe how we look at the past in order to uncover the 

lessons that you carry with you into this brand new life that you’re trying to create for yourself. It’s vital to give yourself time to reflect, even when it’s challenging. More so when it’s challenging, quite frankly, and here’s the truth: When we take those challenges, that’s where the big growth happens. That’s when we begin to see big leaps and bounds in our personal and professional growth. It’s in the challenges. It’s not in the easy times. It’s in the hard times. 

I like to tell people with marriage especially, that’s when marriages are forged, during the rough spots, not during the times it’s all sunshine and lollipops. It’s during the hard stuff that you really dig deep and you get to know who you are and who your partner is, and this is true of you and your past. You need to really dig into that and see how those hard times have molded you and shaped you. I think it’s really important, and to make that even easier for you, I’ve got a download, because I know this can be a challenge, and so I wanted to make things easier for you. 

So I have a download called Reframing Your Past. You can grab that download at Tanyadalton.com/podcast and then just head to episode 158. You can grab it there. It’s absolutely free. It will help you dive little bit deeper into this, because we don’t want to shut out your past experiences the moment that they start feeling uncomfortable. What we want to do is we want to think about, “What were the choices we made? What were the things we went through? What were the important points to note that maybe created who you are today? What were the lessons you learned from it?” We want to shift our mindset and make them an opportunity for learning. Let’s reframe them and see them as they really are without the emotional baggage. I think that’s really important. We got to leave that emotional baggage behind. 

It’s really important to acknowledge that there have been some mistakes, there’s been some failures, and if you’re sitting there right now going, “Nope, never had any mistakes or any failures,” then I don’t know who you are, because all of us have mistakes and failures in our past, so we all have them, and it’s okay. Let’s pull the good out of those mistakes. Let’s give ourselves permission to let them go, Remember, what’s done is done. Let’s take the time to reflect on your past and what it’s taught you. Looking backwards is always the way to start moving forward. It’s so 

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important to look how far you’ve come and the person you’ve become thanks to your past. Life in itself is a series of lessons to be learned, decisions to be made, opportunities to grow inside and out. 

I want to encourage you to dive deep for those pearls of wisdom that your past has planted for you, just for you. Take those lessons that you’ve learned and use them to take stock of how you might approach the new lessons that you’re going to be presented to in your future. You know why? Because life is full of them, and then let the rest fade away. Give yourself permission to let the past go. Use it as a reason to change the direction of your sales to the horizon of a better future. This is your springboard and the momentum you need to become the you you really want to be. I cannot stress this enough. You are the captain of your own ship. You are the one who can make the choices and the decisions and choose the habits you want to cultivate to become that you in the future that you truly desire. 

So do make sure that you grab that download, I really think it’s going to help. It’s called Reframing Your Past. Just go to Tanyadalton.com/podcast and go to episode 158. Now, if you get my newsletter each week for the podcast, do you know you already have that download automatically? And if you’re not getting my newsletter, I promise you don’t send a lot of spam, I don’t send any junk, it’s always things that I think are truly going to help you and benefit you. 

So, if you want to sign up for that newsletter that’s another way to get that download, Tanyadalton.com/email. Now, next week, I’m really excited about the 

episode because I have a special guest coming on the show, Megan Murphy, who 1 absolutely love who’s going to be talking to us about living a fully charged life. I cannot wait for you to meet Megan, she is incredible, it’s such a fun episode. I cannot wait for you to tune in. 

Alright, we’re going to be continuing our conversations about you 2.0 all season long so until next time, have a beautiful and productive week. 

Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. Want to learn more about your own productivity style? Simply go to Tanyadalton.com to take her free quiz and get fre

resources designed just for you. 

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