Let go of the past and focus on the future

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Welcome to a new year. Last week, most of us lost track of time as we entered that strange week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This week, it’s back to work, school, or whatever it is that you do regularly. Some of you are contemplating resolutions for the new year by writing down goals and such. That’s not a bad thing, but most people don’t keep those resolutions. I’ve been guilty of that myself. If it works for you, go for it. I’m going to do something different.

Instead of making a list of objectives, I have one simple resolution for the year. If I do it right (or at least mostly right), then other positive things should happen. I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, so this is going to be the year for simplicity. It’s a simple resolution, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy.

My resolution for 2023 is to let go of the past and focus on the future.

As a middle-aged person, I’ve accumulated a lot of past experiences and gray hairs to prove it. Most of my life experiences so far have been mostly good, some bad, and some great. Everything I’ve been through is uniquely mine – the failures, the successes, and even the mundane. Many of my experiences have been shared with other people. Other experiences have been experienced alone.

I’ve won and lost awards, sales, and accolades. I’ve been on winning and losing teams. The older I get, the more I realize that both victory and defeat are just part of life’s journey – neither is a permanent state. What’s popular today is quickly forgotten tomorrow. Dwelling on the past can hold one back from the possibilities of the future.

I feel sorry for people stuck in the past – whether it’s a good past or a bad past. Most people have a very selective memory, even if it’s not intentional. They remember the really good or the really bad, forgetting that most of life is fairly uneventful. It’s the trend line of those small victories and joys that add up to a life well lived. As I face the future, I’m going to lighten my load by letting go of some things that are holding me back:

  • Regret
  • Disappointment
  • Lost business
  • Missed opportunities
  • Jealousy

Letting go doesn’t mean I’ll forget the past. It just means I’m not going to dwell on the past so long that it hinders my forward progress. Past experiences are stepping stones to the future.

If I’m honest, part of this process means forgiving people who’ve let me down and seeking the forgiveness of people that I’ve let down. I’ll probably slip and backslide, that’s to be expected. We’re all imperfect. When that happens, I intend to get up and try again.

Letting go of the past will help clear my mind and open my eyes. It’ll allow me to convert life experiences into wisdom and knowledge that can be applied to the future. Having a clear mind and open eyes will better position me to focus on the future. Most of you have probably heard of the Serenity Prayer – made famous in movies, books, and various 12-step programs.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
courage to change the things I can, 
and wisdom to know the difference.”

Indeed, the past can not be changed. The future hasn’t been written yet. Let’s make this the best year ever, no matter what happens.

[Joe Domaleski, a Fayette County resident for 25 years, is the owner of Country Fried Creative – an award-winning digital marketing agency located in Peachtree City. His company was the Fayette Chamber’s 2021 Small Business of the Year.  Joe is a husband, father of three grown children, and proud Army veteran.  He has an MBA from Georgia State University and enjoys sharing his perspectives drawing from thirty years of business leadership experience. ]