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The simple question, “Where have you been?” can have a surprisingly large number of meanings depending upon the context and the person asking the question. But regardless, it is a question that requires reflection and seeks information.

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The question might be asked when you arrive late to an event. The question could also be asked upon returning from a trip. I have been known to ask my husband this question when it has become obvious that his mind has wandered away from our conversation. But it is also a question to yourself when planning for the upcoming year. Of late, the question “Where have you been?” can be asked of me with any and all of the meanings being appropriate. If you follow this blog you know that I have been missed here. As always with this meaning, I have excuses (don’t we always), but suffice it to say other things prevented me from posting. Although I travel often, since just before Thanksgiving I have been mostly home (often in bed). So for me, this is also unusual. My husband would attest, my mind has been wandering much these past weeks. Unfortunately, it has not been to happy places, but instead to places of self-doubt. But now I am ready to ask myself the question in order to review the past before starting the journey of the future

Past Influences Future

I am not a big believer in destiny although I do believe there are paths laid before us that we can choose. Destiny implies a lack of choice or the ability to change. I am not comfortable with that. That being said, I know that our past experiences and choices will strongly influence our future  whether it be through focused observation or unconscious reaction. I have long enjoyed the quote by JRR Tolkien from the Lord of the Rings series:

 “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.” – Translated by Bilbo Baggins

There is great hope for the future in those statements, while many of them relate just as well to the past. The trick to looking forward with clarity, understanding and purpose is to take the time to review the past, but not dwell on it. This should include the failures, short-comings and misses you have experienced, but only to the point of learning from them. The bulk of our time should be spent focusing on the successes, wins, and places we surpassed expectations.

The Win
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Repeat the Wins

It has been demonstrated in a variety of ways and proven by people much smarter than me that it is easier, more efficient and in the end more successful to build on our “positives” than to try and fix or eliminate our “negatives”. This doesn’t mean we should just give up on trying to stop bad or destructive behaviors. Instead it says we should focus on what is good (and what we are good at) and try to replace the bad with the good.

As such, understanding our strengths becomes very important. So as you look at both the pros and the cons, consider what each group had in common and where there were similarities. Then try to figure out what are the ways to reduce, minimize or completely eliminate the commonalities of the “fail” aspects of the past. This can take various forms including delegating, increasing your knowledge, enlisting help from others, changing your attitude, or any of a number of other options. At the same time, evaluate how to increase, maximize or replicate the successes.

Confidence comes from repeated success. As we create more opportunities to grow in success, we gain confidence which in turn allows us to stretch a bit further. (That’s Tweetable)

Moving Forward

So let’s begin moving forward together. As I have begun the early stages of the process I have discovered new energy and insights for this area of my business. I hope that you will continue on the journey with me and invite your friends and colleagues to join us.

The next step is to just set aside quality time to go through the process (mine will be starting as soon as I finish typing this)! But if you are like me you might need a little help along the way. The two folks I have used during my journeys have very different approaches, but both have been amazingly useful. Tara Swiger focuses almost exclusively on helping creatives in their solopreneur businesses. I was on the Starship last year, but love the idea of Solo Sessions. Michael Hyatt fans tend to be more in the leadership/speaker vein. I am just starting his new course, The Best Year Ever and continue to value my membership in Platform University.

If you have other favorite resources for helping to plan for the future we would love to know them.