Last Updated on August 10, 2016 by Michael Brockbank
I know a lot of people who focus too much on “what could have been.” They often dwell on the past and revel in self-pity. Although your past does affect your future, it’s how you move from this moment on that will dictate success in anything. Do you dwell on the problems you’ve had in your life, or do you realize that the past is nothing more than a learning experience and strive to improve the future? Many people focus on the former.
Your Past Is a Learning Experience
There’s no doubt that your past will shape how your future unfolds. After all, a person is a sum of their knowledge and experiences. It’s when you let the past have absolute control of your life is when it causes a problem. What you’ve learned will influence your decisions, but it shouldn’t be the only basis.
For example, the saying, “getting back on the horse” means that you keep trying regardless how many times you fall. Eventually, you’ll succeed as long as you learn why you’re falling in the first place. Too many people will simply give up after the first attempt because they don’t want to fall. Because of this decision, they’ll never know the elation of victory.
As a writer, rejections in your past can keep you from realizing your potential. I’ve been rejected a lot of times from major publishing houses and clients. That doesn’t mean that I am a failure. Instead, it means I need to focus more on why those pieces were not up to par. Feedback can help you understand why those pieces were rejected and help develop stronger content later. However, I have collected quite a few clients over the years. So, I know I am doing something right as a ghostwriter.
What I learned from those publishing houses who rejected my work helps develop my skills as an author. You can’t assume that you’re going to be an over-night, natural success. Here are a few things I learned over the last few decades:
- Education is key when learning how to write well
- How the investment of an editor is greatly beneficial
- An agent can do wonders for your success
- That it takes more than a good idea for a story to make it come alive
Getting Past Feelings of Inadequacy
I’ve seen a lot of people give up on something that had potential because they let past experiences completely dictate their actions. Instead of learning from their past, they essentially sabotage their own future. This is something I hound my children about. A true failure is a situation of which you don’t learn from. If you don’t take anything away from the experience, you may easily fill yourself with the feeling of inadequacy.
When people say things like, “Why should I try, I’m just going to fail anyway,” they already have. It’s this negative frame of mind that is going to influence your attempt. If you’re expecting defeat, you’re more likely to defeat yourself by putting in less effort. I’ve also found that most people who say things like this are also more likely looking for an ego boost or a pity-party from friends and family.
To get past your feelings of inadequacy, you need to understand why your past attempts failed in the first place. Was it your writing style? Was it the editing? Perhaps it was a lack of knowledge in a particular subject. Many things can affect how you develop content. It’s absolutely imperative that you learn why your work was rejected if you want to truly have a future as a writer.
Negativity Will Influence the Future
Dwelling on your past failures does nothing more than fill you with negative thoughts and emotions. And yes, these negative feelings will directly affect how you write. In fact, negativity in general will impact your life more than you may realize. Depression, stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and a plethora of other conditions can be linked to negative emotions and thoughts.
You need to figure out a way to push past these negative connotations. While some will turn to professionals to seek help, others try to go it alone. Regardless of which path you choose, there is one constant in both of these methods: understanding your past. By analyzing and learning from things that have happened, you can prepare yourself for what is about to come. The hardest part about this process is being honest with yourself.
A lot of people don’t take responsibility for their actions. It’s always someone’s fault when they look back on their past. In many situations, this could be true. For example, a child really doesn’t have much of a choice when faced with an emotionally abusive family. It’s when you keep using that excuse for why you fail in life is when controls your future. It all boils down to the choices you make.
The simplest choices can directly affect how your life develops. A lot of us will get stuck in, “If I would have done this,” or perhaps, “What if I didn’t do that.” Sometimes it can be fun to speculate what the future would have been like based on a simple decision. But bare in mind that it’s not entirely accurate. There are consequences regardless of the decision you make. Just because you would have avoided one situation doesn’t mean that a worse scenario couldn’t have presented itself.
How Do You Envision Yourself for the Future?
One of my favorite motivational sayings comes from “Back to the Future III:”
“The future is what ever you make, so make it a good one.”
You will use the past to help guide you to a brighter future, but don’t let it control your destiny. If you do, you may miss out on everything from becoming a New York Times Best Selling Author to missing out on a relationship with someone special. Your past has shaped who you are to an extent. It’s your own decisions from this moment on that will dictate whether you’re successful or not.
You can’t dwell on, “Maybe my life could have been better if…” statements. It’s what you do with your knowledge today is what will make you successful tomorrow. The next time one of your stories is rejected, try to find out why. Learn from the mistakes and make the next piece that much better. You may just impress the right person who can take your career to greater levels.
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