We are where we are

The beginning of a new year (new calendar year or new financial year) is often one for making resolutions as you think about the previous year and what you want to do differently in the year ahead. Unfortunately, this can lead to beating yourself up about the weight you didn’t lose or the credit card debt you didn’t repay last year.

Years ago, I was working in a bank in London looking after the corporate loans that had gone bad. At the time they were some of the largest losses ever seen (little did we know … ) and multiple banks were involved in meeting after meeting to see what could be done. These meetings could last for hours and typically involved 95% of the time discussing how we got to this point, and 5% of the time talking about a plan to fix it (or a least not make it any worse).

As you can imagine, not a lot was achieved. After numerous such meetings, my boss came up with a plan to change things. As soon as the debate began (yet again) about how we got to this point, he would say “we are where we are”. This was repeated every time someone tried to drag the conversation back to the past. The result was we all began focusing on what was to be done now and in the future.

When you are still in the process of trying to make a change, (lose some weight, repay debt, get fitter, avoid £million losses) don’t waste time and energy going over all the so called mistakes you made wishing you’d done things differently. It only makes sense to review the past if you can identify particular things you can do differently in the future, such as:

  • a food diary that identified you unconsciously eat too much in the afternoon when the kids come home from school so you now decide to take them to the park.
  • a review of your bank statements that shows you have a gym membership you never use so you cancel that and use the money to increase your debt repayments
  • you realise you impulse spend on credit cards so you now leave your credit card at home
  • a review of the profit and loss statement for your business shows you should have increased your prices when costs went up six months ago so you increase them now.

Once you have identified the things you can change, remember “you are where you are” and focus all your energy on how you can get to where you want to be.

Humans are designed to head in the direction they are looking. Make sure you are looking into the future you want, not the past you regret.

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