Your Past is an Indicator of Your Future

Time for some harsh truths today.

I’m a big believer in embracing reality. Part of that entails cutting through the noise – propaganda, invisible scripts, motivational nonsense – accepting discomfort, and then focusing on what you can control to better your situation.

A lot of people will have you believe that you can do anything you want if you just believe hard enough or want it badly enough. “Your potential is limitless – all you need to do is untap it!” We further this by deluding ourselves with thoughts like, “Yeah, if I really wanted to do XYZ I could.”

And while it’s true that it’s never too late to start something, if you believe that your past has no effect on your future you’re doing yourself a disservice by avoiding reality.

Past performance – while not a perfect indicator – is a pretty good predictor of future performance. I have a hard time thinking of a field where this rule doesn’t apply.

Who you are today is a reflection of who you were in the past; your decisions, your actions, your thoughts, your beliefs. All of the seemingly inconsequential choices and micro-decisions we make on a day-to-day basis – our habits – compound.

There’s a saying that goes “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Like most phrases or stereotypes, this is generally true. If you approach certain things with a 50% mentality you’ll likely approach most other things with the same lackadaisical effort.

This is one reason why some people seemingly have it all. Success has a spillover effect – what you do builds momentum. Success leads to more opportunities available to you and more “luck”.

If this post is depressing, it should serve as a wake up call that you’re unhappy with your current situation and are probably worried that the future holds much of the same.

You can either whine about it and blame some external factor for your misfortune, trying to convince others in some way to alleviate your situation (hint: getting other people to do what you want that’s not in their best interest never works)…or you can embrace reality and start taking corrective action today. 

All we can do in life is try to take things one day at a time. Improving ourselves 1% a day is a victory.

What this looks like in application:

  • If you’re overweight: Go for a 5-minute run outside today. Tomorrow, 7 minutes. The day after, 10 minutes.
  • If you’re stuck at a job you hate: Update your resume today and apply to one job posting. Tomorrow, two job postings. The day after, three job postings.
  • If you’re trying to improve your confidence: Ask a stranger for the time today. Tomorrow, ask two strangers for the time, or directions to the nearby Starbucks. The day after, strike up a conversation with the cashier.

Start small. Progressively overload yourself. If you do this consistently for two weeks…a month…three months…how much closer to your goals do you think you’ll be?