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TB#36: Use the Power of the Past for Fueling Future Triumphs


When you think of the past, you often default to the negative experiences.

“I could’ve done this, should’ve done that, would do something else if I had a time machine…”

But there’s nothing you can change about the past, so might as well use the past in a way beneficial in the here and in the future.

And for me, the best way to do that has always been understanding more about yourself: self-awareness.

The Power of Recognizing Past Accomplishments

We’re so preoccupied with living our lives and then moving on to worry about the next step that we fail to look back.

But looking back is a great way to boost your perceived self-worth: your internal beliefs of how “deserving” you are and how the outside world sees you.

And as you become more clear about your skills and achievements, your image of your self-worth becomes brighter.

You’ll know where you stand in the world today.

There are a few concrete benefits in looking at your past:

  • You’ll get a reminder of your skills and adaptability (hey, chances are your life has seen some unexpected turns)
  • The newly-found sense of adaptability will cause you to worry less about the future because you know you can handle the turmoils
  • Combined, the aspects above give you a boost of self-esteem, pushing back against the despair in general

Not to mention that focusing explicitly on your achievements and successes just sparks joy and inspiration. And in that mental state, you dare to dream bigger and have a sense of being enough.

In other words, focusing on the good stuff in your past is a sharp tool for breaking the not-enough mindset.

Reflecting on Your Past: Let’s get Practical

Here are six ideas you can at least entertain:

  1. Identify Your Achievements: Begin with introspection. Remember and list your past successes, both big and small. This is not about boasting or comparison, but about personal recognition and appreciation. I always talk about “credibility portfolio” where you can list any successes. Just add a section for “generic achievements” and start adding anything you can think of there!
  2. Relive the Feeling: Actively relive the feelings associated with your achievements. Try to recapture the sense of accomplishment, joy, or relief you felt at the time. This is important, as you will understand how you feel when things are going great. And you can invoke that feeling, on-demand, when you face struggles in the future!
  3. Identity Work: View your past successes as integral parts of who you are. They are not merely things you’ve done. They are proof of your abilities and your potential.
  4. Challenge Your Self-Perceptions: Use your past achievements to challenge any negative thoughts or beliefs you may hold about yourself in the now. Seriously, they are concrete proof of what you have done, meaning you can do it again with patience and work.
  5. Celebrate Your Victories: This must also be a cultural thing. In Finland, we just tend to say “meh it was nothing.” But remember to celebrate your wins, and there’s nothing stopping you from doing this retroactively. If you haven’t taken credit for your wins, just do it. Even if it happened a long time ago. Remember, each victory, no matter how small, is proof of your skills and worth.
  6. Appreciate Your Efforts: Take time to appreciate the work and effort you put into achieving those past wind! You didn’t achieve things by luck. You put in the work and it paid off.

I’ve talked about this a lot in the past and mentioned it in this one too: Establish a repository to store your past wins. Way too many people think their professional CV is the track record of your life. But how limiting is that? Like, your wins in life are purely career-related? Or are they limited to whatever CV format happens to be in vogue at the moment?

That’s so dumb!

Start journaling your past wins, start thinking about them more often, and record them somewhere so you have a place to return to when you need some energy!

That’s all for this week!

About the author 

Simo Hosio  -  Simo is an award-winning scientist, Academy Research Fellow, research group leader, professor, and digital builder. This site exists to empower people to build passion projects that support professional growth and make money.

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