Quick Takes:

  • Your past gives you information on how to act on the present
  • Your present will affect the trajectory of your future
  • With a static past, however, your past will never change – a failure will remain a failure
  • By making your past dynamic, and stacking multiple experiences together, you can actually change your past

Past, present and future. These three phases of time have been the centerpiece of our understanding of the world. The past happened, the present is happening, and the future will happen as a byproduct of the past and present.

The past, then, according to our understanding, is static. It’s what’s already happened to us and therefore cannot be changed. However, we can use the past as information to drive our actions in the present and give our future a direction.

If, for example, you quit your job due to an unrelenting and unrelatable boss, you now know the importance of finding a job with a positive culture and mentor-like leaders. While the past can’t be changed, you can use the knowledge gained from your past experiences to make better decisions in the present and future.

Therefore, every past experience is a positive – if you learn from it. 

And that’s great! A static past has value. But your past doesn’t need to be static and everlasting. It can, if you put your mind to it, be as dynamic and ever-changing as the multitude of your possible futures.  If you’re able to understand and harness the idea of a dynamic past, it can actually equip you with more knowledge and experience than a static past ever will.

Keep it Dynamic

A dynamic past is one that changes with your evolving perception and outlook on life. In fact, a dynamic past directly influences your perception and outlook, which then causes you to look back with a new perspective, after which the cycle repeats itself.

As you embark on your personal journey known as “your life,” and if you’re living right, you’ll encounter numerous unique scenarios and situations. Your action or reaction to those situations and scenarios will be filed away in your memory as your past – as you remember it.

As life progresses, you’ll continue to file away more and more experiences that shape who you think you are. With a static past, this is all you’ll ever be.

Using the example above, if you have a static past, you’ll always be that person who had poor work performance due to an overbearing boss. While you can use that knowledge to your advantage moving forward, that “blemish” will always be a part of your past psyche.

With a dynamic past, however, this blemish can turn into a bright spot. 

Think about it this way, because it may sound like a never ending feedback loop: A single past experience will cause you to view your past a specific and singular way, and then force you to act in the present based on that viewpoint so that it affects the trajectory of your future. Multiple past experiences, however, stack on one another to create a mosaic of understanding.

So while a single past experience is static, multiple past experiences are dynamic. 

The aggregation of understanding from multiple experiences works to constantly update your perception and outlook on life in the present and the future. Then, when you look back on the past, you consistently view it in a different and increasingly positive way.

Think about the first example, revamped: again, you quit your job due to a boss with whom you have no alignment. Your work performance had begun to suffer and your mental stability began to wain, and the only plausible option was for you to leave.

Now, looking at that singular event as a static point, it could be said that you’re a failure. It could be said that you have an inability to work with people or that you have a problem with authority. I’m sure even worse could be said, and I’m sure if you’ve ever found yourself in a situation like this you’ve said worse to yourself.

But of course your past isn’t over and done. In fact, every day that you live compounds an additional day in your past.

As you move forward, this singular point from your past will gain more and more context. Continuing with the example: since you understand the ultimate value of your time, and since you’ve been building experience after experience, you decide to start your own business instead of looking for another job. Drawing on the experience of quitting due to a poor work environment, you make an early commitment to a positive culture.

The business starts as a freelance endeavor, but your focus on positive culture immediately bleeds over into the way you treat your few – but growing! – clients. With more clients comes the need for more help, and you eventually hire people to help you build a more traditional and lasting business.

Not forgetting the past nor your commitment, you instill an uplifting culture with the very first employee. This causes the business to maximize productivity, sustain growth and, most importantly, successfully service your clients. Your company is a success.

And all because of a moment in time that you originally perceived as a “failure!”

Now, looking back at that moment can’t help but make you smile. It was an experience that directly led to a future success. In this sense, your past has become dynamic: failures in the moment are used to fuel a successful present and future, and are looked back upon as a necessary step on the path to your success.

With a dynamic past, we commit ourselves to having – and then learning from – an eclectic array of experiences. A dynamic past makes all past events positive.

And how could it not? If you’re growing because of your experiences, than you’ll become increasingly fonder of your past, because with each success you’ll realize more and more that your past is what got you there.