reflecting on the past to navigate the future

Navigating the Future by Reflecting on the Past

By Rob Cresswell

At the beginning of a new year having a time of quiet and thoughtful reflection on the past is really worthwhile. In fact it can help us in navigating the future. Reflecting on the past, particularly the year that has just come to an end is a great way to plan ahead. I personally find deliberately setting aside some time for this helpful. I often go for a solitary walk in the countryside at the start of the year (so long as the weather isn’t too bad!). But you may prefer a less energetic time of solitude. Whatever works for you…

I’m not a fan of ‘New Year Resolutions’. I know that sometimes they can work, but often they set us up for failure. Why? Because usually they are rash decisions that are often not properly thought through or articulated. For these reasons most New Year Resolutions don’t last until the end of January.

However, if we spend some time thoughtfully reflecting on our recent past, our successes and failures, we can begin to form some goals that are far more geared for personal development and long term direction.

Setting the scene

It’s important to get in the right frame of mind to do this in a healthy and positive way. This isn’t a time for dredging up guilt and self-condemnation. Rather, it’s a time for almost detached reflection on your life, as if you’re pretending to be somebody who wants to seriously help you (which surprisingly very few of us do!).

It’s always good to pray. Begin with prayers of thankfulness. Thank the Lord for your life and all he has done and brought you through; the good, the bad and the ugly. Thank him for his grace and goodness. Ask him to help you navigate your way forward in life with his wisdom and guidance.

Make sure you have a journal or notebook so you can write some things down. This is for your eyes only. There are no right or wrong things to write down, just what comes to mind. And what you write is not a contract, fixed in stone. It’s more like a creative sketch or doodle in words that will form into more solid goals later on… so for now we keep it open and fluid…

Reflecting on the past to navigate forward

Reflecting on the past

First focus on the positives. What went well this last year? Think ‘relationships’, ‘skills’, ‘responsibility’, ‘achievements’. What did I do that I’m pleased about? What did I find fulfilling and purposeful? Did I learn anything new? Did I get better at anything? Can I improve still more in that relationship, skill or occupation? Did I achieve anything worthwhile? Do I want to do that again or get even better at it? Did it open up new possibilities for the future? And so on.

And then you can begin navigating the future: Are there some new goals emerging from these thoughts that I can aim for in the coming year?

Then turn to the ‘could do better’

What did not go so well for me this last year? Did I do anything (or not do something) that created inner turmoil within me – something I should or should not have done? This is not to make you feel guilty but, as if trying to help yourself, ask yourself why you did this. Try and understand what makes you act in this way and what you can learn from this. Ask yourself: What am I afraid of or what am I avoiding?

If you are brave enough to begin to understand yourself better, you can take steps to embrace your successes and confront your fears. Not in a big dramatic fashion but by setting realistic goals and taking small steps in the right direction. In this way the New Year is a great opportunity to go forward with fresh understanding about who you are, where you are and where you want to be.

Navigating the Future

Whatever you do this new year we pray for fresh understanding and vision for the future. In a world that is increasingly volatile and chaotic let’s be those who are living with purpose and conviction, who know their God and their way forward.

Here at Spirit Lifestyle we are working through a brand new course called LIFE GPS (God’s Purposeful Strategy for Life). It’s a course designed to help you navigate through life with the Holy Spirit using the wisdom of the Bible and some great inspirational tools and activations (much like the one suggested in this article). We will be looking at our past, our passions, personality, giftings and more. We will be seeking the will of the Lord to help us navigate our way forward according to his plans and purposes. Why not join us on the journey and see where your road might lead…?


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About the Author: Rob Cresswell

Rob Cresswell avatar
Rob Cresswell along with his wife Aliss pioneer ministries which seek to engage all who are hungry for the things of the Spirit and demonstrate the love and power of God. After graduating from ministry school in 2006 they established a local church in their home town of Chester and several exciting outreach initiatives (known for salvations, healings and miracles) including a café, shop and B&B. Rob is the author of 'The Threefold Miracle Mandate', 'The Believer's Guide to Survival' and 'The Believer's Guide to Thriving'. Together they founded Spirit Lifestyle and continue to write, present, train and travel, spreading the gospel and pioneering Kingdom initiatives internationally.

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