When my life turned upside down after becoming paralysed I abruptly lost my career, sport and the ability to do every day things. I felt petrified if I thought about my future, devastated when I looked back and living in the present wasn't fun either as everything felt like a struggle. I literally had to take one day at a time and just carry on the best I could. I would say I spent way too much time thinking of the past.
Psychologists say traumatic events can make you stronger physically and mentally. It didn't feel like that at the time but now I think it possibly has. Overcoming adversity can give positive changes in relationships, a better appreciation of life and new possibilities in life.
When I started to focus on what I can do (rather than dwelling on the things I could no longer do) I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel- I couldn't change the past but could positively influence my future.
That shift in my mindset, when I started to have goals and ambitions again transformed my world. I stopped thinking back to my old life, what could have been and what I used to have- instead I used all my energy to rebuild my life and reinvent myself.
Do I still have that forward thinking approach to life?
I am in a very different place now and strangely enough I encourage myself to look back sometimes. I would be more guilty of spending too much time thinking ahead.
Along with ambition and drive to achieve goals, comes the risk of always wanting more out of life and glancing back can be a great thing. It is easy to forget how far you have come and sometimes it is important to pause, reflect and take time to enjoy the present and your achievements- small or big.
Future focus is more cognitive in nature and leads to life and work achievements.
Present focus increases life satisfaction and well-being- making the most of that moment.
Although past focus was damaging straight after my accident, it wasn't many months after when it became incredibly useful. It can help us construct redemption narratives that focus on how we have triumphed over adversity, learned something valuable or made the best of a bad situation.
Do you spend enough time in the present whilst thinking ahead to the future but glancing back to see how far you have come?