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How To Get Ahead After Getting Behind

Sometimes we wonder how to get ahead after getting behind and most of us have been there…

There are very few of us who have been able to stay on a chosen course throughout all of our life.  Each of us has his or her individual and personalized goals and sometimes, many times, we just aren’t where we feel we should be at a certain point in time. And for some that feeling is very strong because we don’t see a clock as ticking seconds away, but rather it seems to be ticking the years away. And if truth be known, we don’t like how it feels as the hands on the clock keep moving while we may feel that we aren’t.

Going over and over the reasons and excuses for not being where we feel we should be rarely does anything to help us get off “dead center” and start the move forward,  simply because the reasons and excuses we use just deal with the past. It doesn’t matter whether the reasons and excuses are true, whether they’re just our interpretation of the facts or whether they’re something in between. excusesComing up with a reasoning that sounds plausible and makes sense for our present lethargy or situation may make one feel better temporarily, such behavior may assuage whatever degree of guilt is present, but it does nothing about the practical problem of “What now?”

Eventually the discussions with oneself or another about “What happened back then,” have to come to an end.  The only person you ultimately have to be accountable to for what happens next is yourself. And eventually many of us at some point in time, simply have to deal with how to get ahead after getting behind.

There are five (at least) points that have to come to the forefront of our thinking and behaviors in order for us to make changes to our present so that our future will not be simply a retake of our past. I’m sure there are more that could fit a persons’ scenario, however these five requirements are common to most of us.

  • A sensible and practical written plan must be developed.

The most common mistake people make when attempting to change the course of their present lives so that the future can be what they really and truly want, is that of not making and writing down a plan.

Now, why is a written plan is so important?  The most important reason is that just the process of writing out a plan on paper forces one to truly ponder and consider that practical implications of each point in the plan.

When a plan is written out and is left setting out so that you are forced to look at, it requires you to continually go over it in your mind. A plan that simply says something like, Get Rich, is no plan. It’s a goal, but it’s not a plan on how you’re going to get there.  Too many of us mistake a goal for a plan and we don’t account for the practical hurdles that have to be overcome. When we don’t ready ourselves for those hurdles, when they do come, they may seem daunting and insurmountable.

personal mission statementWhen we write out a plan and set it on the table next to our easy chair in the evening, we’re forced to become practical and proactive. We look at it, we add to it and take from it the variety of steps that are necessary to achieve our goal. It gives us time to truly consider if a step is viable, if we have time to do it in that manner, if an alternative step is better or how it will affect our resources. A written plan will become more doable and accurate than just hoping things will work out. We’re forcing ourselves to deal with the practical implications of achieving our goal by having something that is always in front of us talking to us, so to speak.

And trust me on this, a written plan will change many, many times as we’re confronted with the realities of our personal resources, schedules and other things that make demands upon us. A personal plan, a mission statement so to speak, helps us to flesh out the reality of our goal. There’s just something about seeing something on paper that gives us the opportunity to truly assess our interests and skills as well as where we may be lacking.

When a person, for example, decides to go to, well let’s say to the Small Business Administration, in hopes of getting some financial backing for a business endeavor, the first thing they will want to see is your Business Plan.  They will want to see if it’s well thought out, practical and feasible.

Write your plan out, rewrite it, think about it and re-rewrite it. Once finished and you’re comfortable with it a sense of confidence and true hope should come over you because you’ve eliminated the impossible, dealt with the improbable and focused on the doable, in a concise and linear manner

  • Start the process of mentally preparing yourself to negotiate the uncomfortable.

When you go to a store to buy something, you’re exchanging your time for the item you want.  If you’re still working for a living, there’s always a period of time that you invest in a job or business, and you basically exchange the time you have spent for the item that you now want. Sure you give them either a check, cash or a card to pay for whatever it is, but you’re actually exchanging your time that you gave to acquire the money, to pay for the item or service that you now want.

For those that are on fixed incomes, you still are making an exchange not just of a form of currency, but rather you’re exchanging what else you could have done with the money, for what you want to purchase right now.

Obviously it won’t only be money that you’ll be exchanging in order to see your goal come true, though some expense may be involved. It will be your personal time and labor spent in learning a trade or a skill whether on the job or at a school of some type or study that you do on your own.  Another thing that you may have to prepare yourself for is the opinions of others that may be less than supportive for whatever reason. It’s important to understand that something is always given up in order to obtain something else and only the individual can decide for themselves if the cost is worth it.

Many of us spend half our time wishing for things; things that we could actually have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing for them. -Alexander Woolcott

Whatever it may be that you will give up in order to obtain something else, you can be sure that at first it won’t seem comfortable because it requires a change not only of behavior but of thinking. To spend time and resources to obtain a desired goal when you know good and well that you’re already behind in whatever form, requires a totally changed mindset.

For the new to come, the old has to be put aside and dealt with. Old ways of thinking don’t go easily. They’re like an old coat that’s become very comfortable. It may be a little shabby, patched and not in style any more, but it’s comfortable. Having a mindset of “this is good enough for me” is the death knell of a truly fulfilling future. However, changing your thoughts, habits and the time you spend with friends and family, are important to your own personal sense of well being and satisfaction, and will usually be of benefit to others also.

  • Spending time with those who are successful is necessary.

There’s an old saying that goes, “If you want something you’ve never had before, you absolutely must do something you’ve never done before.”

I don’t know who originally wrote that, but I’d love to find them and shake their hand. That is one of the truest of truths I’ve ever heard. We must be, to some degree, engaged with those who have either reached their desired goal or are well on their way.

Everyone is looking for a hero. We go to movies usually because of the way it makes us feel. To some degree we project ourselves into the movie and we come out feeling better about ourselves because we’ve “owned” a little bit of the character that was portrayed. We’ve learned something about ourselves from the portrayal and inwardly many times we’ve thought, “Well, I could be like that. That could be me.”teaching learning

It’s necessary to spend time with a mentor. It could be in person by establishing some type of relationship with another who has achieved some degree of success in a certain area. It may come from the inspiration of someone who explains the hard road that was traveled to get where they are today. You can find a good mentor from a positive blogger, through an autobiography, by joining a group or club that deals with the goal you’re interested in, or in any number of ways. But one thing is for sure, we all need an example to look at.

Everyone can learn something beneficial from someone else. Being around those who have arrived or are well on their way is one method of immersing yourself in a “can do” attitude.

At the beginning of the old TV series Star Trek, it starts out with these words; “Space, the final frontier.” Sounds good, huh? But far too many of us have not traveled to the inner most secret places within ourselves. Those places where dreams still lie in wait hoping for us to grab hold of them and set them free. Being around those who have traveled the roads we seek to travel, and who don’t mind telling of both the pitfalls and the wonders of that journey, are necessary for us to believe, “Why not me too?”

Motivational CD’s, books, speakers and those who are successful in the goal we have for ourselves are necessary. It makes us understand that if someone else could, then “Why not me too?”

It will mean that you will have to take some of your personal time to do so. It may mean that you will have to spend less time with those with whom you have spent time with, at least for a period. If you have a family, an honest dialogue and conversation with all of them is important so that all will understand that a short cost is necessary to achieve something better for both you and them as well. And also, it may mean saying goodbye, so to speak, to those who simply have burdened you for too long.

  • Being alone with yourself in this journey.

One thing you will find as you implement the practical day to day changes that are necessary to achieve your long term goal, is that it may not be the “party” you thought it would be. Long hours alone, leisure time given up and the monotony of a new schedule with no present payback, is something we all have to go through as we head toward our goals.

There will be times when you’ll feel that everyone is looking at you and silently wondering, “Well, how come you’re not there yet? We don’t see anything really changing in your life.” A mental ruggedness is a quality and trait that will be required of you. Though others may in fact be quite supportive, there will be times when your worse protagonist against you is your own thinking.

meditationMany time we don’t react in life based on how we truly feel and think about ourselves, and many times we don’t react in life based on how other’s are actually thinking about us. Too often we react in life based on how we think others are thinking about us. And when we’re on the way toward our goals, self doubts, weariness and seeing others be, in some manner, as we desire to be, may bring about a sense of futility regarding our efforts. But there will be a positive payback, if you just keep going.

The good thing however is that those are only feelings, and we all know that feelings come and they go based on a variety of circumstances and situations. But when you plow through the thoughts, feelings and even the doom and gloom words of others, and stay focused on your goal, you come out on the other side with a strength and sense of self confidence that far too many only dream of.

Trying is not the same as determining to do; that’s why they’re two different words. One thing is for sure, after you’re on your way and you’ve jumped a few hurdles that you previously may have thought you couldn’t, you’ll have a much better sense of respect for the person you see in the mirror every day.

  • Teaching others is now an opportunity

Every person alive is in some manner teaching another. It may be by what one is not doing, or it may be by what one is doing, but in any situation, we’re always in some way going to show something to someone family

The down and out street person shows us something when we drive past them. The business person shows us something. The man who stays home on the weekend instead of going to play golf or fish teaches his family and his neighbors something. The person who always plays golf and goes fishing leaving work undone teaches others something.

We are all mentors and teachers whether by words or by example. But it’s the person whom others have seen make sacrifices of time, finances or other things, that they take notice of. Nothing may be said to you, no one may come up and shake your hand and tell you thanks, but you can be assured, they have seen you. And who knows, your journey, difficult though it may have been, when successfully completed may just be the reason another says to themselves, “Why not me too?”


Author: Tony Hensley – Personal Development Friends








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