I just saw the movie, “Groundhog Day,” for the second time. If you’ve seen it, you’ll remember that the main character, Phil (played by Bill Murray), finds himself stuck in an endless repetitive loop.
No matter what he does, each day is the same as the one before, with events repeating themselves over and over.
Phil gradually realizes that he has the ability to decide how to use each day, rather than just letting things happen to him.
But the cycle isn’t completely broken until he finds and then learns how to express the authentic self that was trapped inside, that part of him that’s innately generous and compassionate. At the end of the movie, time returns to normal, but it’s now influenced by Phil’s new attitude toward himself and others.
Breaking the Cycle
It’s important to learn from the past. But when you let the past keep you from moving forward, it’s no longer serving you well. There are several ways you can stop letting your past determine your future.
1. You be the one to define who you are. If your path is taking you in an entirely new direction, people in your life may have a hard time letting go of the limited view they have of you. They may say things like, “but you were so good at what you used to do” or “I can’t see you doing that.”
Maybe they’re concerned for your well-being. Or they feel threatened that you’re moving away from them. Perhaps they wish they had the courage to spread their own wings. Whatever their reasons, it’s time for you to define who you are.
2. Get rid of the “shoulds” and “oughts.” Most of us grow up absorbing strong messages about how we ought to behave and what careers we should pursue. As an adult, it can be difficult to hear your own voice and to trust your own instincts.
Too many people believe “security” should come before happiness, and they end up staying too long in jobs that are no longer a good fit. Start listening to your own voice and find out what would make you happy.
3. Know there are alternatives. You shut off your options when you decide that “this is all there is.” Believing that it’s not possible to start over can lead to feelings of inertia, hopelessness, and resignation.
Maybe you haven’t allowed yourself to see them yet, but you do have options. And when you make the choice to take charge of your life (yes, even in this economy), it’s amazing what opportunities begin to present themselves.
Like Phil in “Groundhog Day,” you can decide to be who you are and to create your own future.
In what ways do you let your past keep you from moving into your future?