Spending too much time thinking about the past or future is the fast-track to depression. Living in the moment is the key to happiness, but I’ve found that strategically thinking about the past can actually bring some benefits.
The Danger of Not Savoring Success
I rarely think about my past successes, but I’m learning that this is a mistake. I wrote a post on here a few months ago about how I am not proud of my achievements. It turns out that my lack of appreciation for my progress actually makes it harder for me to be successful in the future.
Achieving anything significant in life involves sacrifices. The way I develop the motivation to succeed is by thinking about future rewards. I become willing to work hard today because of what I am going to get tomorrow. It’s a good system but problems occur when I cheat myself out of the reward. This happens when I fail to savor my achievement – instead of getting a reward I give myself a new goal to work on.
It may be due to low self-esteem, but it sort of feels unseemly for me to feel proud of my achievements. I feel uneasy with compliments, and I don’t even like to celebrate my birthday. I want to keep pushing myself forward to the next goal, but my unwillingness to enjoy my victories means that this is getting harder to do.
I like this saying:
‘Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me’
When I set myself a goal with the promise of a reward at the end, I cheat myself by not fully enjoying my victory. This means that I need to work harder the next time to develop the motivation to achieve the next goal (fool me twice). The reward I promise myself may be in the form of a physical item (e.g. some new music), but it is really the satisfaction of achievement that I’m anticipating. Without this reward my life becomes an endless slog towards a target that is always moving further away from me.
Remembering My Achievements to Boost Motivation
The problem with looking forward all the time is that life becomes a race towards death. It is hard to stay motivated when the only benefit of achieving one goal is to be given a new one. This is why remembering my past successes can be such a great help. By spending a little time each day patting myself on the back, it gives me the strength to keep going forward – it is a reminder that doing this stuff is more than just a way to waste time.