Reason to SMILE #363: LOOKING BACK
It’s that time of year, again – time to look back on the year 2017, time to reflect on prominent world events and political movements, highlights of the entertainment industry, breakthroughs in technology and medicine, clothing fads and toy crazes. If you turn on the television or open your favorite news site or blog, I’m sure you’ll find all sorts of “Year in Review” shows and articles, some focusing on the good, some on the bad and some on the downright ugly. We enjoy these retrospectives. They allow us to join together in applauding achievements, celebrating victories, crying over losses and laughing at goofball mistakes.
Yes, mistakes. We can’t look back without remembering our mistakes. But it’s one thing to reflect on the mistakes of a nation, a world leader or a celebrity. It’s quite another when the spotlight of reflection lands on our own missteps and failures.
There may be someone out there saying, “Hold up. The past is the past. I can’t change my mistakes. All I can do is move on from them. So shouldn’t we simply leave the past in the past?”
But other times, we need to take a good, long look at the past (good or bad) in order to build a better future.
With that in mind, here are a few questions you may want to consider as you look back on the past twelve months:
- Were there any new relationships in my life this year? Did any of my existing relationships end? What was my role in the demise?
- Where did I excel at work this year? Where did I fall short?
- What decisions did I make that were beneficial to me emotionally, physically, spiritually? What led to those decisions?
- Which of my decisions were the most detrimental? How did my decision-making process differ in these instances from the times I made good decisions?
- When did I experience the most joy this year? Where was I? Who was I with?
- When did I experience the most sadness? Where was I? Who was I with?
- Did I grow in my faith this past year? Am I closer to God now than I was a year ago? Am I further away?
- What good habits did I establish? What bad habits?
- Did I reach any goals this year? Did I have any goals? Did I give up on any goals?
- Did I make a difference in anyone’s life for the better? Did I share my faith? How did that make me feel?
The challenge of looking back is learning from the past and then using our retrospection to create resolutions of change or of maintaining the good in the year ahead. (I’ll explore the SMILES of resolutions tomorrow.) Yes, looking back can be painful. It can remind us of our shortcomings and weaknesses. It can bring sadness and regret. But looking back can also be encouraging for it reminds us of all the SMILES that fill our lives – the friends, the family, the experiences, the memories that will strengthen us for what lies ahead in 2018.