If you followed this site for a while you are probably familiarized with my love for the loser-turned-winner narrative. In short, I’m a firm believer that people can change and achieve results despite past experiences. The potential for change is unlimited if you think of it that way.
However I noticed that not many people share my enthusiasm and belief when it comes to potential. Inspired by contradiction that I just recently noticed, this article was born.
We judge based on past experiences, but we do it wrong
Whenever you catch yourself planning or imagining a future scenario regardless the aspect of life you are focusing on, you are quickly thrown “back to reality” by the sum of what you’ve experienced, achieved, witnessed.
And it’s a common reflex. We all share it more or less.
The thing we never seem to understand is that there is way more then the unilateral picture we all have of ourselves. We judge based on past experience, but not in its entirety.
Imagine when you worried about yesterday the day before, and how things went way better than you anticipated. If you were given the chance to do it again, you would have done it differently and better, right?
We all would. And here lies the key.
Year from now we would judge yesterday on the basis of what happened, and we would forget to remember that it went way better than we anticipated, and that it had the chance and potential to be even better.
People often say that we shouldn’t judge based on past experiences, and I cannot agree more. What we should actually do is take past experiences for what they were and observe closely where or how we could have made them better.
Fears from the past that were not realized convince us in the importance of abandoning them altogether
If we fear about the things that can go wrong tomorrow and they never do when the time comes, what does this say?
In short, that such fear is unreal. And when we judge based on past experiences we never take this into an account. But we should. What made you uneasy the week before in regards to the one now that never actually took place?
See what I’m talking about? It makes sense doesn’t it?
Past opportunities give us insight into our potential
If you know that you’ve done something in the past which from a today’s point of view could have been done better, then you are convincing yourself into the power of your potential. You know it could have been done better. You can see it clearly.
The fact that you didn’t only opens your eyes in the sense of understanding your potential. You can give way more than you did in any given situation.
Now how many of you would agree that if you were to be given a second chance to do things in life all over again, you would have done them better?
Nine out of ten I believe.
This, in short, tells you about the fact that we are all capable of more. And we know it. But we decide to reminisce about the fact on how things turned out and not about the possibility which always exists.
I can now clearly see the mistakes in my work, my fitness regimen, and my dieting principles. So what do I do? Instead of getting depressed over how I made a mistake before and portray myself as the victim (i.e. it will probably happen again), I take a different approach. I learn from my mistakes and recognize the possibility and oportunity that is available now.
If I knew better, I would have kept my fitness regimen on a steady course autopilot, instead of exhausting myself. It is the constant intensity which created frustration and ultimately detachment from healthy living. But now that I’m aware of that, I don’t despair – instead, I’m going slowly at it again. Sure, allow yourself some cheat days, don’t count the pull-up bar reps at the beginning, don’t get obsessed with micro nutrients and macro ratios…
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, but the second best is now. So act in the present, and don’t despair over missed opportunities and mistakes. Tell you what – plenty more will come!
Ask yourself what you believe you can do better if given the chance to repeat some situations in your life, and you may just have an insight in your potential for more. Realizing this based on past experiences, what you do now will certainly be seen from a different perspective and you will know your potential even before that same opportunity comes along.
Image credit: By A.Guandalini