“Life must be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” – Soren Kierkegaard

Reflect for a moment on your life.

Does it seem complicated, mysterious, difficult, an overwhelming challenge? Or is it exciting, mysterious, complicated, difficult but manageable and positive?

Maybe it’s somewhere in-between these opposites. The truth is that each person’s life will have its ups and downs. No one will ever experience a completely trouble-free existence, devoid of obstacles and problems that require careful thought and planning to solve. The fact that life is so often unexpected may lead you to believe that it’s chaotic, that you have no choice, or that you’re going to have a predetermined outcome anyway, so why exert yourself?

To make the most of life, according to what many experts recommend, the wise move is to reflect upon what you have already done, what you’ve learned from actions you’ve taken in the past, and incorporate such knowledge and skills into what you take up now. You cannot live in the past, but you can make use of its lessons.

Where you go from here

Simply put, where you go from here involves a bit of dreaming, envisioning, mapping out a course of action, and then committing to it. Therefore, you need to live with an eye toward the future, working in the present, and making use of the knowledge you’ve gained in the past.

There’s no going back to re-do what’s already been done. You can, of course, make changes for the future, for the actions you’re about to take today and for all the days going forward, but you cannot reverse the past. It’s a fact. The past is done. It’s over. Now it’s time to get on with living today.

Dealing with regret

From time to time, however, it may happen that you experience a twinge of conscience, regret over things you’ve done before that have caused harm to others or yourself. All you can do is express your feelings and say you’re sorry, and then make sure that your actions from this day forward are a true reflection of your commitment to do better. Actions always speak louder than words, so if you want others to view you in a more favorable light, what you do now is what counts.

It is possible in some situations that others can’t get that memory of your past out of their minds and will continue to hold your previous actions against you. While this is painful to experience, all the words in the world won’t do a thing to change their minds. Only continued positive action on your part might do the job, although some people are so stubborn that nothing will ever persuade them.

It’s best if you move on from these individuals, for they’ll do you no good whatsoever in your effort to live a full, happy and productive life. Who needs someone who’s always picking apart everything you do, anyway? It’s so much better to surround yourself with positive and forward-thinking people who have the same values and interests as you.

Moving past disappointment and failure

What of all the disappointments and failures you’ve had? How can you make sense of those painful experiences and figure out a way to move past them? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here, just more commonsense suggestions.

  • Instead of harboring a grudge, commit to charting a different path from this point forward.
  • Analyze your strengths and abilities and find ways to make use of them.
  • Create short and long-term goals and action plans to achieve them. Then, get to work on them.
  • Find one positive thing about each day. Celebrate it. Savor the feeling, for this will help motivate you to tackle tomorrow’s life challenges.
  • Learn to live in the moment. Life is precious and short. All you have is now, so make the most of it while you are able.

To live your life to the best of your ability, understand what’s happened all the days up to now, and make use of any lessons you’ve learned. Do, however, keep a keen eye on where you want to go and who you want to be, since it is with solid goals in mind that you will be able to fully live and appreciate life.