Oswald Letter

Leave your mistakes in the past, but keep the lessons for the future

by Dan OswaldPerson silhouette standing in 2018 on the hill at sunset

In just a handful of days, 2017 will be over. Another year in the books. I don’t know about you, but they seem to go faster as I get older. It’s like I’m speeding to a finish line that I don’t necessarily want to reach! But it’s like I say about birthdays, it sure beats the alternative. So I’m grateful to have another year behind me—if for no other reason than it gives me a clean slate for 2018.

I consider myself a “glass half full” guy. I prefer to focus on the positive than dwell on the negative. That’s why when I look back on 2017, I want to remember all that has been accomplished, everything that has gone right. And while I hope I’ve learned from my mistakes and missteps, I do my best to put them behind me. I try to follow the advice of the great philosopher Pumbaa, the warthog from Disney’s The Lion King, who said, “You got to put your behind in the past.”

It’s not hard to become consumed by what has gone wrong, the mistakes we’ve made, and the problems we’ve encountered, but a new year provides the perfect opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start over again. And while we don’t want to forget the lessons learned in 2017, we certainly don’t want to begin a new year burdened by thoughts of everything we did wrong.

If we can’t get past all the mistakes we’ve made in the past, we won’t be able to embrace the opportunities of the present. All the time spent with regrets, wishing things had turned out differently, takes away from the time you can spend making the most of today and planning for tomorrow. There’s an old saying, “The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” Make sure you’re working on creating the future you really want.

We all face different circumstances. Sometimes things break our way and we end up a winner. Other times, despite our best efforts, things don’t work out the way we had planned. But spending too much time dwelling in the past will prevent you from being successful in the future. Learn from your mistakes because there are lessons in our failures, but then use what you’ve learned to improve your odds of success in the future.

You don’t want your past to prevent you from achieving all you’re capable of. You don’t want your past to hold you back. So here’s what we’re going to do: Think about your greatest mistakes and failures of 2017 one last time. Write them down on a piece of paper. Put as many on your list as you like. Then consider what you learned from each. There is a lesson in each of our mistakes—find it and write it down on a separate piece of paper.

Now tear up your list of mistakes. Burn it if you’d like. Whatever you do, put the mistakes of 2017 behind you and out of your mind. Now take the list of lessons learned from those mistakes and use it as you form your plan for the future. You’ve paid dearly for those lessons—don’t let them go to waste. Turn each of your failures of the past into your successes of the future.

The greatest failure is allowing your mistakes of the past to continue to negatively affect your future. As we wind down 2017, make sure you are intentional about putting your mistakes behind you and taking the lessons learned to make the future brighter!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic 2018!

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