back to the future

Back to the future

Did you know that the Romans named the month of January after their god of beginnings and transitions? Janus is usually depicted with two faces, one looking to the past and one to the future. Very appropriate for the first month of the year when many of us are reflecting on where we’ve been and what’s coming next.

Do you find yourself looking back with anger or feeling apprehensive about the future? Or do you love to relive happy memories and get excited about what’s to come? Whatever your outlook, it’s a good idea to strike a balance between reflection and forward planning so you can take what’s useful, move on and become the best version of yourself.

Rewind to fast forward

Memories are an important part of our own personal identity. Happy ones are great. Painful ones can be useful – as long as we break free from them. Looking back enables us to consider both what worked for us and to learn from our mistakes, so we can make better decisions going forward. Alex Lickerman, M.D. talks about turning past events we view as harmful into springboards for personal growth. It’s a case of chalking it up to experience. By reflecting on the past we can gain insight into our personalities and realise where our passions lie. 

On the other hand, a focus on the future helps us to have a vision and to work towards a concrete goal, which can give us hope and boost motivation.  Planning ahead can also allow us to see the bigger picture of where we want to be.

Imagine that

According to Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D, if you can identify with your future self, you’re more likely to invest in your wellbeing today. She cites a study by psychologists at the University of Liège in Belgium which looked at how people create “self-defining” future projections. The study saw participants imagining attainable, future events that were meaningful to them. The researchers found that being able to generate these thoughts was important for experiencing feelings of optimism and self-esteem.

Want to try something similar for yourself? Create your vision of 2014 with our new quiz This Is Me 2014. Fun and quick, it gets you thinking about what you want next. You’ll finish with an inspiring snapshot of your goals to keep for daily motivation.

And while you’re travelling between memory lane and the next big thing, don’t forget to enjoy the present. It’s healthy to have hopes and ambitions, but if we focus too much on the future we can sometimes miss out. As John Lennon famously said: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”.

Do you find it easy to live in the moment?

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