"Your past is not your future; you have the power to make new decisions for your life starting today."
- Deb Sofield

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Stop turning your troubles into your excuses

Well, believe it or not, in five weeks it will almost be time for you to consider writing down those crazy New Year’s resolutions. And while I am not entirely opposed to New Year’s resolutions, I don’t take them seriously anymore because I really don’t know anyone who sticks with them, so I find the whole exercise to be a great waste of valuable time…and, frankly, probably the number one reason I am a skeptic and a doubter is because, in the midst of all that self examination and belly button gazing, it’s always the same old story of people pulling out their past troubles and transferring them into their present day excuses, and then nothing changes…yet again.

And here is the funny part. Well, not “ha-ha” funny, but you know what I mean. See, what I get excited about is that there is a moment–a split second in time–when you, a clear-headed and thinking person, awaken to the bright idea of possibilities; that you can unload your past troubles and put your life in the right direction to move into the path of your dreams… But then the reality of your purposeless, sad sack life kicks in, and you allow your fear and worry and low expectations of yourself to bubble up. Once again, you lose the vision of your once-bright moment of hope and settle back into the routine of moping around and feigning commitment to the New Year’s resolution that will never happen, because you once again brought your baggage with you. Kind of hard to let it go if you keep packaging it up and carrying it around with you everywhere you go and every year you live. Goodness, aren’t you tired of hauling your past around?

So, before you go and find a pen and paper to write out what most likely you will not do next year after the second or third week in January, let’s take a minute and figure out why you’re still dragging the old into the new. And if you’re truthful, maybe–just maybe–we can redirect you to a new year of possibilities, the year you always hoped for so you’ll have your best year ever.

I know for many the old ideas and hopes and dreams are a great stand-in for doing nothing–again–this year, but I’ve got to wonder, when will you make a change for the better? What will it take? When will you finally stop your belly-aching and do the thing you promised yourself you’d do?

See, what I’m curious about is your concept of time. I have been very clear these past three years that time is not on your side. You’ve got to get going if you plan on living BIG, or at least a better life. And one of the most important things I can stress to you is, in that moment when you have the chance to choose to go forward or to look back, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself if you make the wrong choice of looking back again. When will you learn? What will it take? What has such a grip on you that you’ve let it damage your once promising life?

For the record, let me remind you that it doesn’t matter what your parents say, or your friends or even your spouse. If you choose to drag your past troubles into your present opportunities and make them your excuses, you will abandon your options for a big life, because the old and new cannot exist together when it comes to being who you were born to be and doing what you are called to do. There just isn’t enough room for the old and new to live together in your house, so you’ll have to choose.

I love the quote from Edna Ferber, “Living in the past is a dull and lonely business; looking back strains the neck muscles, causing you to bump into people not going your way.”

Not only will you run into people not going your way, but those very same people will pull you off track because they want you to live like them in a sad, lonely, pathetic loser life, and, in the confusion on the road to success, you’ll lose your way to your better, bigger, brighter life if you’re not careful.

Remember, don’t look back. You’re not going that way.

Yes, I know it seems like I am once again sounding the alarm, and, yes, I am, because you can’t have a positive mind-set to go forward if your brain is filled with all the negative reasons why you can’t do what you’re called to do.

I feel an urgency to be forceful with you today because, as I look at the calendar, my time with you is coming to an end here on the radio. You can still find me and stay in touch with me by podcast and newsletter, but I’m closing out the radio show, after three amazing years, to do bigger, better things and grow my reach via social media to a larger audience. I see no need to stay small when I am firmly convinced that I, as well as you, should live big.

Time is not going to wait for you to get your act together. What will happen is that someone else who is ready, willing and able will jump in and take your place and leave you on the sidelines, watching instead of playing to win, if you don’t unloose your past and live fully in the present.

It seems that time flies by and next thing you know another year has passed and you’re still the same–no better and maybe even a little worse for the wear. You’re still in the same dead end job you hate, you’re still in the same going-nowhere relationship with someone you’re not even convinced if they asked you to marry them that you would, or would you even want to live with this person the rest of your life, you’re still mad at your parents, your spouse your boss and yourself and you’re still complaining about the same things you did last year. And you wonder why you’re not getting ahead.

No doubt we all have a friend who we’ll see at some holiday party this year, and they will tell us the same things they told us last year…and the year before…and the year before. It’s obvious that there has been no growth in their life. And, if you’re like me, you can repeat their stories back to them about their high-class upbringing, but yet they have no manners–they’ll tell you the same story about going to the gym and how they are going to do yoga and get fit, and chatter about some cool vacation… And yet they go nowhere and do nothing except post on Facebook about their make-believe life. …You’ve heard this story before.

If I have described you or you know someone like this, the good news is that there is hope–hope to change, to grow, to build, and to be. See, what I don’t want is for you to continually struggle with your past mistakes, your past failures and your past breaks in life…because if you’re not careful, you will bring your past into your present and it will feel like Groundhog Day every day of your life, and you deserve better than that, don’t you?

So you may say, well, “Deb, how do I live in such in a way that doesn’t drag my past troubles into my present life?” First and most important is you have to take a hard look at where you are right now, and if you’re still in the same place you were last year, you’re stuck and you need to make a plan to get unstuck and get going. So how do you do that?

First…Be honest with yourself. There is no more time for make believe. The time is now to make the changes you need to make in your life. You know what those changes are and, if you’re struggling, then please be courageous enough to find a licensed counselor to help you–not a friend, nor your pastor, but someone who has lived life and is successful and has a heart for others and knows how to help you chart a path for success.

You are going to have to be bold. You need to find the courage to change things that should be changed and accept that there are some things that you may not be able to change, and in those situations you need to step up and make the hard decision to do the right thing. It will take boldness to break out of your rut.

You need to control your negative thoughts. If there is one thing in life you can control, it is how you think. You must fill your mind with positive thoughts, sayings and affirmations that will sustain you when you start to sink back into your old habits.

You need to use your energy wisely, because spending your energy complaining, worrying, or being impatient is a waste of time. And when you are sinking or feel like you’re about to fall off the edge, I encourage you to get outside or go the gym and walk it out, lift weights–push yourself. It is amazing what will happen to your mind when you push your body! Using energy will clear your mind and will force the toxins out of your sluggish body. Exercise is more than physical–it is mental because of the discipline it will add to your life. There is no downfall to getting healthy. Remember to start slow and build. It takes time; you won’t get fit overnight, but over time you’ll be better. It’s hard, but you can do it!

One of the most important things you can do that will stop turning your past troubles into your present excuses is to be thankful for what you have now. One of my favorite writers, James Thurber, said, “I deal with the present because that is where we live – Let us not look back in anger, or forward in fear, but around in awareness.”

And, finally, keep moving forward. Football great, Don Shula, said,The start is what stops most people.” Ah, friend, don’t let that be you. Every day–every day–of your life, move forward.

Tough love today, because I want to push you to your greatness…because I believe that’s what true love and encouragement does.

 

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People, even more than things, have to be restored, revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Never throw out anyone. - Audrey Hepburn