How often do we beat ourselves up for what we did or did not do in the past? How often does that regret change the past? Uh huh… that’s what I thought… never.
So leap year lesson #2 is stop regretting what you did or didn’t do in the past and start doing what you must to move forward.
Case in point… In December 2010 I decided to start writing occasional handwritten letters to my two grown sons with the idea that they might like to hang on to them and look back at them someday. I gave them those first letters 13 months ago. My intent was to write maybe a couple of them each in 2011. How many did I write? None. I thought about it many times and even started a couple of times. But I never finished them. I always let the urgent or convenient crowd out the important.
I could beat myself up about that and whine about what an awful dad I am. Instead, I am spending this cold day at my desk writing letters to both of them that reflect on the past year.
When I think of my long task list at work, the same is true. There are many things that didn’t get done at all or to the degree I would have liked last year. I can’t change that. I worked hard. I did more than anyone expected of me (except, perhaps, myself). So I’ll keep adding tasks to that list and prioritizing. I’ll get other people to help with some of them where possible. Many tasks will get done; several won’t. Totem poles always have something at the bottom.
Reflection on the past is a good thing if it helps you move forward. But dwelling on the past – especially in ways that keep you from progressing – is not good.
Stop regretting. Start doing.