Looking Back

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward”

– Soren Kierkegaard

Happy new year friends! We made it to 2022 or as some would call it; 2020 too. I’d like to think this year will be different regardless of how similar it may have started to past years. We’re about two weeks in with a short 50 more to go. How has it been for you so far?

I still can’t believe this year marks two years since we’ve been living in a global pandemic and from the looks of it, it is not letting up anytime soon.

As I reflected on what 2021 was like for me (and even prior years), I vividly remember excessively stocking up on paper products, bottled water and canned foods. Fears of running out of essentials were at an all-time high. This was possibly a new experience for the majority of us.

Once the shelves grew bare and became decorated with the dreaded “only one per customer” sign, I began to care less and less about my personal brand preferences and arguably, slightly hoarded enough of whatever was available.

No one wants to find themselves toilette paperless in the middle of a bathroom visit; at least not me.

This desperation and depravity made me think of times when I had uninhibited access to purchasing as much or as little grocery essentials without having to worry if I was ever going to run out and not have access to these necessities when I needed them.

They say “the cow never misses it’s tail until he loses it” and I dare say many of us probably understand that saying without needing any explanation of it.

Regardless of the lack of supplies on those barren grocery isle shelves, one thing that I did notice was that no matter how they dwindled in numbers, there was always more eventually. I am beyond grateful for all those stockers who worked diligently day and night to ensure consumers, like myself, had access to groceries.

I know for many, reflecting on all that transpired during the initial and ongoing phase of the pandemic may be tough to do. Maybe goals were not met and were instead replaced with set backs. For some, it may have been the loss of income, good health, hope, property, relationships or the loss of loved ones.

My heart and prayer goes out to anyone who has been hurting greatly during these unprecedented times. Regardless of how hopeless your circumstance may seem to you, please know that weeping truly only does endure for a night. As long as you are breathing, there’s more to your story.

I know I’ve spent quite some time reflecting on pandemic woes, but if I am being completely honest, that is only a small part of the fraction of the things I’ve sat and pondered on over the past years.

I think of the people who are no longer on my journey, the harsh realizations I’ve faced with some of them, the life lessons I’ve acquired through making mindless decisions, the person I used to be and who I am today, the excessive amounts of money I’ve spent at the grocery store, how horrible I was (and slightly still am) at sticking to my budget, the habits I’ve tried to break that has won the battle over my own mental strength, and the personal and spiritual growth that came from it all.

No matter the unfavorable past mistakes, I’m grateful for all of it and for the opportunity to see a brand new year that was never promised. While I welcome you dear 2022, I’d like you to slow down for a quick second to take a moment to reflect on a few things I need to zone in on from 2021.

In Retrospect

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You’ve probably started off the year with a list of resolutions and goals that you have every intention of achieving for yourself and possibly for your family. It is nice to set new goals, to dream new dreams, and to have new visions.

NEW is exciting.

Whether it is to finally start exercising, eating healthy, reading more, saving more, paying off that nagging debt or at least knock out a good chunk of it, starting your own business, writing your first book, discovering your God given purpose, and if you’re like me, you’ll want to cut back on groceries (the inflation that is upon us is no joke).

There’s something about new beginnings that gets me inspired and pumped and most importantly, hopeful. Many times, unfortunately, those goals that were decided upon are seldom achieved. The spike in “new year, new me” adrenaline seems to taper off and by the time it gets to March (or even as early as the end of January), the urge to pursue those goals is long gone.

Think of all those resolutions you’ve set last year. How many of them have come to fruition? How many didn’t? Why not?

We want to achieve the goal but are we disciplined enough to get there? Too often also are we inclined to hastily throw out and try to forget the old year. Don’t underestimate those mistakes made in 2021 my friends! Those hurdles you’ve had to jump over could possibly be the golden tickets of insight for growth and better choices in 2022.

Here’s why I say that.

Mistakes, in my humble opinion, means you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone and tried something new. That’s commendable. That is proof that you’ve had more faith than fear. Comfort is nice, but we know there’s no growth in comfort zones.

In the midst of your mistakes, you may have made very little progress, none at all, or even have taken a few steps back. That’s ok. What matters most is that now you know what does not work and you aren’t willing to give up. That in and of itself is an accomplishment. Why? Because now you have knowledge about something that someone who never tried does not. You can tell others what worked and what didn’t.

The Rearview Mirror

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While driving, I use my rearview mirror a plethora of times. If you own and/or operate a motor vehicle, you’ll know where to locate your rearview mirror and when to use it. Incase you aren’t familiar, here’s the Importance of a rearview mirror:

Your car’s rear-view mirror serves a multitude of purposes that help keep you safe as a driver. The rear-view mirror promotes an alert driving experience by allowing you to see behind your vehicle without turning your head. By checking the rear-view mirror, you can monitor traffic and prepare for any potential dangers. It’s also helpful with parking as it gives a clear line of sight to the sides and rear of the vehicle. The rear-view mirror is a great asset when backing into a parking space, parallel parking, and exiting a parking space.

Most driving instructors suggest checking your mirrors every five to eight seconds with a glance. A glance does not mean studying the mirrors, but more along the lines of a quick check. It’s important not to stare off into your rear-view mirror as you can miss hazards in front of you. Checking your mirrors frequently gives you an adequate mental map of what’s happening on the road. From moments if there’s a vehicle about to hit you from the rear or an item falling off of a truck, mirror checking keeps you prepared.

Did you notice the emphasis from the article above to glance back quickly, when using a rearview mirror, (for the obvious safety reasons) but not to plant your eyes on the rearview mirror for too long? While looking back is important, if the car is moving forward, it would be very dangerous to keep your stare glued to what is happening behind you.

Our eyes are certainly at the front of our head for a reason.

After looking back, here are a few things I’ve realized I need to adjust this year that you may be able to relate to and how I intend on seeing them through:

  • Breaking bad habits – Identifying what triggers me to keep falling to the same temptation of the bad habit and to be disciplined enough to stare clear of the trigger. For example, if I am trying to reduce my sugar intake, the obvious decision is to not buy sweets at the grocery story. I’ll have little to no sugary options when that late night craving hits.
  • Stop overspending at the supermarket – this is such a sore area for me. When I looked at the dollar amount I’ve spent over the past year on groceries, it is safe to say I spent way too much on food. The sad thing is, some of it ends up in the trash. With the inflation that is upon us, this most certainly has to stop. How I intend to cut back is to plan ahead on meals for the week, make a grocery list based on that plan, use coupons when I have access to them, take advantage of other saving opportunities the store provides, and to never shop while hungry.
  • Aim for early, not on-time – I’ve heard the saying that if you’re on time you’re late. This is true. Aim for early as we cannot predict the journey to wherever we need to be is going to be unobstructed every day. Accidents happen, road constructions show up unannounced. If you aim for early, there’s a better chance of making it on time with these conditions.
  • Flee from procrastination. Heard the saying delay is danger? Why risk forgetting or not completing something if I remember it now and can get it done?
  • Stop overbooking my schedule – it is easy to get dragged in all directions. It can be even worst as a full-time employee and student. Prioritizing mental breaks is important. It’s great checking off the to do list but should not happen at the cost of a burnout.
  • Prioritize taking care of the temple – Get that pedicure sis! We can’t be out here with a job and a roof over our head but when someone looks at our feet they think we’re homeless. You have one body, so take very good care of it in every way possible.
  • Listen without distractions – Most people today have smart phones, in hand, and almost all the time. We live in such a multitasking era that we feel like listening while someone is speaking but needing to scroll through the phone can still be effective and then after they are done speaking we realize we don’t even know what they just said. Sometimes we miss the opportunity to be there for someone because of this.
  • Control the thoughts, don’t let the thoughts control you – This is a tough one. I know I am not the only one that needs to work on this. Being emotionally led can be detrimental because we act on feelings rather than facts. The key, in my humble opinion, is to take a moment to think through all the thoughts and to ask ourselves how many of them are true and how can we work through getting our peace back without making matters worst.

Biblical Perspective

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old

Isaiah 43:18

Scripture presents many references that suggest the detriment of looking back at the past or better yet, staying stuck there. This is pointing to the true meaning of salvation and incase you are thinking of salvation being only a soul saving event from sin, I’d like to inform you that salvation also refers to being set free from old ways of thinking and operating. Things like breaking bad harmful self-sabotaging habits, how we steward God’s creation of self and of all the things He’s created on this earth that He has allowed us access to.

You may remember the story of Lot’s wife and how she looked back and became a pillar of salt. She appeared to not have wanted to let go of the things of old and her unwillingness to let go stripped her of a future. – Luke 17:32

If you ever get stuck in the past thinking you coulda shoulda woulda, please remember this promise:

For we know that for those that love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose – Romans 8:28

The Correct Way to Reflect on the Past

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In the one minute video below, Michael Hyatt shares his perspective on reflecting on the past. He explains his phenomenon of “completing the past” as:

“If you don’t complete the past, if you don’t deal powerfully with what happened in the last 12 months, too often we drag that into the future so that it becomes an inhibiting factor in accomplishing our most important goals.

For example, if we went through a failure or disappointment last year we might be tempted to not try in this year. And so often, people that are successful failed their way to success. And so we have to learn to deal powerfully with the past.

Michael uses 8 major questions to guide his students. One of which is:

What were your major accomplishments last year? (It’s good to rehearse those to get into a powerful frame of mind where we’re building on our success and our momentum which builds confidence and gives us a reason to set even bigger and better goals for the future.

But we also have to deal with things like disappointments or regrets or maybe there were times last year when you thought you should have been acknowledged but for whatever reason you weren’t and if you don’t get that out and just deal with it, then it’s hard to get the slate wiped clean and to develop a plan for this next year that is inhibited by what happened in the past 12 months.”

Trouble viewing this video? See it here

Looking Ahead

Downtown Tampa, Fl

I’ve learned something new every single year about myself. No matter what I’ve learned about others, what I came to realize about myself mattered most because the only person I can control is myself. As I am graced with life, I try my best to take those lessons and apply them to the new year, new month, new week, or the new day. Thankfully God’s mercies are new every morning.

Not only can we be grateful for that, but no matter what you did not accomplished or failed at or wished you had done differently, know that you can be hopeful and expectant each and every day in the fact that it’s a new opportunity to do what was not done the previous day all while not having to spread your bed in the despair of your past failures.

You must be intentional about this new mindset.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you an unforgettable new year for all the right reasons. One filled with higher highs, good health, more joyful moments and one riddled with much laughter and little to no tears – unless of course they will be tears of joy. Be expectant for the new adventures and accomplishments on the road ahead. And don’t be afraid to fail at something new. You got this!

What goals have you’ve set out to achieve this year? How do you plan on seeing them through? I’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to leave a comment below and subscribe for new content and announcements. Until next time, have a blessed week.

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