BACK TO THE FUTURE: USE YOUR PAST TO BUILD A BETTER NOW
I recently had a coach from my high school football team hit me up with a request. He wanted me to send him a photo from my playing days as a Puyallup Viking. He was working on a project highlighting former players.
I hit him back with a text that read, “No prob Coach. I’m on it!”
While I sent the text, I began to ponder if I even had any old football photos of me donning the mighty purple and gold (ironic thing to say coming from a Coug).
I tend to not be very nostalgic. I love spring cleaning. I get a mini rush of dopamine when I purge my closet. I don’t need to hold on to old things. – even my old sports stuff.
Realizing this, I started to get a little nervous.
While I was rummaging around our storage shelves in our garage, I couldn’t find any old pictures. “I must have either given them away or threw them out in the trash,” I thought.
While looking through some hidden boxes in the corner, I finally found what I was looking for – my high school yearbooks!
“There had to be a football photo of me in here,” I said to myself while feeling like I just found a needle in a haystack.
So there I was on an early Saturday spring morning, thumbing through yearbooks that I hadn’t opened in over at least a decade. What a blast from the past. Memories started flushing in. I saw faces I hadn’t seen in many years. I even texted some of these photos to my friends. It was hilarious…cargo pants and frosted tips; baggy jeans and polo shirts; Caesar cuts for the guys and shoulder length bobs for the girls.
I even started to read some of the comments and notes people wrote me in my yearbook. Instead of cleaning out my garage, I was reminiscing on my life as a teenager in high school. This exercise helped me reflect on my life during that time – the good and the bad.
I truly had a storybook run in high school. I was Homecoming King, voted “Dream Date,” was an excellent student, and won many awards as an athlete. However, like many young people, I often times was caught up in the lie of perfection. I was insecure and worried too much about what others thought of me.
Reliving some of those emotions again, I played the game of “What would I have done differently?” If I could go back in time, what would my relationships look like? Would I have trained differently? How would I have addressed some of my fears?
I felt a little like Uncle Rico from the classic film Napoleon Dynamite. “If I could just go back…”
Let me preface that I had an amazing time in high school. I had many awesome friends and experiences. I had outstanding support from my family and loved ones. But looking through these yearbooks reminded me of how much I didn’t know.
Upon reflection, I would’ve been more grateful. I would’ve served more people.Iwould’ve worried less and laughed more. Instead of trying to be cool and liked by everyone, I would have focused more energy on defining my core values and just loving me for me. I would’ve been more bold.
I wouldn’t have WASTED a single hour or day on doing tasks that didn’t help me reach my goals.
Without even knowing it, this exercise change my emotional state. If you have ever listened to or watched the best business and life coach on the planet, Tony Robbins, you know that he’s all about getting people to change their state. When you’re in a heightened emotional state, you’re ready to take action.
While in this zone of reflection and reminiscing on my mindset and some of the things I would’ve done differently, it helped me create an exercise that I want you to do.
While going on a walk that evening, I pictured myself 10 to 20 years in the future. I imagined,
“How would my future self in 2037 assess my life right now, today, at this moment in 2017?”
What would a 57 year old Collin say to a 37 year old Collin? What advice would I give myself? What would I have done differently? What should I focus on? What is really important in life? Am I getting everything out of every single day, every single hour, every single minute?
I can’t get those years in high school back, and I can’t get these years back either.
I don’t believe in living in the past. I due believe in learning from our past to improve our future.
Coming to that conclusion and by feeling the emotions and memories looking through my old yearbooks, I did a self scout on myself and how I’m living RIGHT NOW:
● What am I doing well and what areas can I improve?
● What areas in my life am I avoiding?
● What relationships do I need to fix?
● What legacy am I leaving?
● Am I playing to my strengths and going all in on my gifts?
● Am I maximizing every second with my wife and my children?
● Am I helping enough people?
● Am I checking things off my bucket list?
AM I LIVING MY LIFE AS MY BEST SELF?
Knowing what I know now, and thinking about myself 20 years ago, this exercise got me really really excited. I almost had an out of body experience feeling like this is not my real life…this is just a dream.
I can start over right now and do anything that I want.
This exercise helped diminish some of my fears. This process help me get excited for living in the moment and for what’s to come. I had a huge sense of gratitude flow over me…even in the simple and small things. I left that mental exercise truly believing that I can write any story I want and live out my dreams.
By reflecting on what I used to worry and obsess over in my past…I realized those were actually somewhat small things. It’s amazing what a few years away gives you in terms of perspective. I would tell my younger self to stop majoring in minor things…people’s opinions are just that – opinions – not facts. Your only competition is just you, and no one else. And here’s a key piece of advice: don’t be afraid to have crucial conversations with the people you love and who love you.
Why can’t we hack our brain and do that same exercise now?
My 57-year-old self would probably give me similar advice and tell me to chill the F out. Everything’s gonna be OK. Trust in yourself and trust in God. Just go for it!
This is my task for you. Here are 5 steps to go Back to the Future and Use Your Past to Build a Better Now:
1. REFLECT: Help change your emotional state by looking at old yearbooks, pictures or videos of you in your youth, or 10 to 20 years ago.
2. SELF-ASSESS: Reflect on if there is anything you would’ve done differently – not in a negative way, but with the approach of self scouting.
3. EVALUATE: Decipher if some of the same fears, worries, or internal stories are holding you back today.
4. FUTURE WISDOM: With this refreshed lens and perspective, pretend you are yourself 10 to 20 years in the future looking back on your life right now. What would you do different? Reference my list of questions above.
5. TAKE ACTION: Decide to take action and do not waste a single day. Do things that you’ve been putting off. Mend relationships that have been broken. Attack your fears. Follow your heart. Live your dream. Reassess how you look at failure, and learn from it.
The time is now! We only get one at bat in life. Please don’t waste it.
I eventually was able to find some old pictures of me at my parent’s house, and I sent them to the Puyallup football coach. I’m looking forward to seeing how this project turns out. After this experience of looking back at my younger self, I’m even more excited to create new pictures and memories living life like there’s no tomorrow.
My hope is that you do the same.