It’s easy to forget where we’ve come from. As the political season swirls around us, politicians are making bold, sweeping plans for the future. Yet, time and again leaders’ “plans” are thwarted because they forget their history.
They forgot to look back.
My wife and I went on a cruise a few weeks ago to celebrate our first year of marriage together. It was a fantastic chance to get away and look back on the year. I took a few (5!) books that I wanted to read, and a few sturdy notebooks to jot down ideas and future plans.
While I only read two of the books, my wife and I were inspired to plan out large chunks of our next year.
The beauty of a cruise ship is that you’re forced to disconnect from the outside world due to lack of (cheap) internet and phone connectivity. This kind of environment is perfect for planning and fleshing out details. No distractions, no outside influences, just my wife and myself and a pen. Not to mention an awesome view of the water 24/7.
It was an insanely valuable experience, but not in the way that I expected. I’m a nostalgic guy, but it turns out that looking back helped us far more on making future plans.
After all, how can plan where we’re going, if we haven’t taken stock of where we’ve been?
You see, the dirty little secret about planning is looking back first. Looking back allows you to get perspective so you can get a base for future plans.
By default I’m a nostalgic guy, but it had never occurred to me that in order to see where we wanted to go as individuals and as a family, we needed to look back on what happened over the past year. So we started recalling things like
- memorable moments
- things we loved doing
- things we hated doing
- things that needed to be improved in our marriage
- and things we never got around to doing that we wanted to
In my case, I’ll fall all over myself trying to make plans. I love making yearly plans, but without really looking back on the previous day/week/month/year on a consistent basis, anything I plan for the future is pretty much worthless.
Right now I’ve got a lot going on. (Heck, who doesn’t?) Planning is the thing that’s going to be keeping me on task and sane, and if I didn’t take this opportunity to take a deep breath and look back on the previous year, my future planning wouldn’t have stuck.
Without that introspective review, I would have planned for things differently. I wouldn’t have taken key things into account that would have changed how I executed, keeping me from ultimately accomplishing what I want to do.
So what about you? Do you find looking at the past as a way to help “right the ship” and keep you on track?