Rewrite Your Story, Design Your Future Life

life

Reflect On The First Half Of Your Life, Design The Second

Many people start to look back on their past when they enter the second half of life. In particular, they become immersed in memories as they recall both good and hard times. But such passive retrospection isn’t enough. You must take time to do an interim accounting of your life, reflecting actively and intentionally on your past, with an intention to design your period of completion with a new mindset and new goals.

Renewal doesn’t come automatically, and life doesn’t change just because you’re a year older. You can understand this even if you’re only 30 years old. The years pass and the seasons change in accordance with the cycles of nature, but it is you who gives meaning to those changes, and you who chooses renewal. Unless you reflect on what you’ve learned through the past year and on how you will apply those lessons to your future life, aging another year won’t make you any wiser. In the same way, unless you take time to consciously look back and reflect deeply on the first half of your life, all that remains will be fleeting memories and feelings. Your experiences won’t develop into wisdom for living better in the second half of your life.

I once heard a scholar say that 95 percent of people are living today just as they did yesterday, just as they did a month ago, without anything changing. Renewal doesn’t just happen. It comes only to those who consciously pursue it. Only those who open their eyes at daybreak can see the dawn. When dawn comes, it remains as dark as night for you unless you open your eyes. Though spring arrives, you cannot sow seed unless you are aware of the season. You cannot harvest grain in the fall unless you have first sown the seed. The era of longevity stretching out before us holds in infinite potential for completing our lives as we want. However, it will end as an unfulfilled possibility unless you perceive it and consciously design the second half of your life. The path to a new life will not open for you unless you choose it.

Rewriting The Story Of Your Life

There are many ways to look back over your life. You could divide your life into 10-year units, for example, and bring to mind what important things occurred in each of those time periods. Or you could think about what happened in each stage of your life that was meaningful to you — for example, when you were in primary school, middle school, high school, and college, when you started working, when you started a family, and when your children got married.

I recommend that you ask yourself the following questions to reflect actively on the first half of your life:

• What things have I achieved in my life?

• When was I most joyful?

• When were things most trying?

• How did I overcome hardship in those moments, and what did I learn through them?

• What moments in my life do I regret?

• When did I do things that made me feel proud and that I found rewarding?

• What momentary choices became opportunities that changed my life?

• What values did I try to remain true to in my life? What helped me remain true to those values?

• What got in the way of my remaining true to those values?

• What life goals have I had so far?

• What motivated me to establish those goals?

• Which of my life goals have I achieved?

• Which goals have I failed to achieve?

• Who has had a great impact on my life so far?

• Who have I considered precious so far?

• With whom do I want to share my gratitude?

• With whom do I have emotional issues that I need to resolve?

• Which of my habits do I want to keep and develop?

• Which of my habits do I want to discard?

• What things have I really wanted to do but failed to do?

• What were the reasons I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do?

If possible, write down your thoughts about these questions. Organizing them in writing, instead of just thinking about them, will help you unravel the tangle of thoughts rolling around in your head.

When you look back, organize your life story so that it motivates and inspires you, enabling you to live a life of completion. You must not let the story of your past burden you with confusion, hurt, and despair. Use your past as a driving force for making today and tomorrow bright and strong. In that sense, you have to edit and reinterpret your life story. I don’t mean that you should deny the reality of the hurts and setbacks you experienced as if they never happened. Nor should you insert good things that never happened. I’m not telling you to distort your past, but to look at it from a new perspective.

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