John Maxwell tells a story about having a sign on his desk that reads: “Yesterday Ended Last Night.” He further explained that this sign reminded him to keep a proper perspective about the past and to engage in the brand new day that God had given him.
Yet, for some people, it is hard to let go of yesterday in order to embrace today. We can be tempted to hold on to the past – especially the great moments – or to be tortured by our failures and setbacks and think that these bad moments define our future. Here are some ways that I see people holding on to yesterday:
- Lamenting the Past – Some people lament the past and hold on to regrets over what they should have said or done. A bad play, a bad game, or a bad day lead to a snowball of emotions that keep us anchored to a moment we can never change. While we are physically in the present moment, we stay chained to the past mentally and emotionally.
- Living in the Past – Other people live in the past glory of great moments and continue to relive them over and over again. Maybe, you have a friend who continues to talk about the time he won the Little League championship game, made the game winning shot, or received the promotion at the best company he ever worked for and forsakes the future. These types of people can never get past this moment to realize the opportunity of today.
- Limited by the Past – Some people are limited by their past. They feel that their past mistakes, setbacks, or performances have created a perceived ceiling on what they can accomplish both today and in the future. I see this with people in sports, business, and life who put limits on their potential based on how they performed in the past.
When we think about yesterday, we must learn from the past. A proper perspective can help us break through improper perceptions that are formed based on yesterday. Bad moments can haunt us and keep us from realizing the potential of today. We have to remember that just like the sign says, “Yesterday ended last night!” There is nothing we can do to change it. Whether it ended well or not so well, we must understand that today is the only day that we have to make our lives count for what matters most. And as John Wooden, the Hall of Fame UCLA basketball coach and mentor of men, said, “Make each day your masterpiece!” Engage in today and all that God wants you to experience!