You’re in the driver’s seat, cruising on the highway, headed to your next destination. The rules of safe driving recommend you occasionally glance at your rearview and side-view mirrors so you know what’s going on around you, but your primary focus is on what’s in front of you. It’s obvious you can’t drive with your focus on what’s behind you. Yet, there are those who drive their lives in this manner.

Focus on the past is akin to driving while watching the rearview mirror more than looking ahead. We all do this from time-to-time to some degree, but we know those who tend to live this way. It’s not an effective way to drive a car, nor is it a productive way to drive a life. If you intend to keep your eyes fixed on the rearview mirror, the safest thing for everyone is if you pull over and stop moving. This is what happens to those who focus on the past to such an extent. They come to a standstill or, perhaps, experience a “crash” in some area of their life.

Your past reflects outcomes of thoughts, beliefs, choices, actions. These are not truths, just outcomes. If you’re not pleased, or feel downright unhappy with outcomes, check your “map” and alter your route. You don’t have to have an inflexible route planned for your life. Detours will happen no matter what you plan. Sometimes, you’ll decide to take a detour to see what’s there. Whether you follow the “straight road” or not doesn’t matter. How you allow your experiences to be significant to you does. The most important thing to have is a destination so you know where you’re going and what you might need in order to reach it.

I recall listening to a Caroline Myss tape years ago where she mentioned that one insensitive comment that took someone all of three seconds to make to us in our youth, often impacts us for decades. Granted, when we’re children, we don’t necessarily have the capacity to rationalize that a person who made such a statement may have been having a bad moment or day, or that maybe the moment was more about them than us; but once we are able to address this, we should. This applies to any comment or action received by us at any age. Otherwise, we end up sitting in the driver’s seat while someone else steers and operates the gas and brake pedals and watch the world (and our lives) go by. Your life is your vehicle, drive it.

You’ve already experienced what is now in the past. Set your sites on where you desire to go and on what you choose to experience next. Allow the past to teach you, but not encumber you. Your next experience and your future is whatever you decide it will be. Take each mile as it comes. Observe, learn, self-adjust; then, go to the next mile and the next. Enjoy the journey. Celebrate your willing participation as a traveler.

On occasion, as appropriate for you and with full mindfulness, go where you’ve never gone before. That “place” will never be found in the past.

Author's Bio: 

Joyce Shafer is a life empowerment coach and author of, “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say” ( and ), “How to Have What You REALLY Want” (, and is published in various online and hardcopy venues. You can email her at