Looking Back, Moving Forward

Everything I know about mythology would fit on the head of a pin with room left over for everything I know about quantum physics, astronomy, and curling. (Except bicep curling. I’ve got that!)

Statue: Janus

Source: Wikipedia

The one mythological god I know a teensy bit about is Janus, the god of beginnings, change, and transitions. Usually depicted with two faces–one looking forward, one looking back–Janus earned the god-job of ringing in the new year as a punishment for ratting out his half-brother to the enemy to save his own skin (see: two-faced). As a god, he was immortal; but he only got to do one thing…over and over and over.

I guess having a whole month named after him was small consolation for Janus, considering that it’s one of the most miserable, weather-wise, in all of the northern hemisphere. Not to mention, that about half of the American population resolves to change something drastic about their lives in January, which sometimes translates to more misery. Poor Janus.

But time heals, apparently, because as the years passed, Janus came to represent all beginnings and not just the new year. That’s no easy job, because as we well know, beginnings can be hard. And they’re sometimes made even harder because we don’t have Janus’s ability to look both backward and forward at the same time.

Reflection is a good thing, especially to savor past successes or identify wrong turns taken. But if taken too far, “looking back” can lead to circular thinking–trying to relive past successes or cycle through regrets and recriminations. Like Janus, we can be stuck doing the same thing over and over and over. And, of course, be we, I mean me.

“If you’re looking backward while trying to move forward, you’re likely to fall at some point.” Me, October 2011

For me, the transition to January and the new year is a great time to look back at the past year–the good, the bad, the in between–and identify what I want to continue doing and what I want to change. In doing that, I use past lessons as a guide, not a road map. One of the greatest lessons I learned when I started this healthier living quest was that I wouldn’t do it perfectly. That I would have doubts. That I would complicate things. That I would over-think and over-analyze. That I would learn. That I would succeed.

“She understands now what she, in all her worry, had forgotten. That even as she hesitates and wavers, even as she thinks too much and moves too cautiously, she doesn’t always have to get it right. It’s okay to look back, even as you move forward.”
― Jennifer E. Smith, The Comeback Season

And that’s how I’m starting this new year–moving forward, always, but with the help of lessons learned to ease the way.

Happy New Year to all, and may we all have our Best Year Ever!

16 thoughts on “Looking Back, Moving Forward

  1. Happy New Year, Cammy! I’m right with you on appreciating lessons learned to help in the future, but I’d sure like to not have to repeat them…

  2. Happy New Year!!
    My goal every year is that the new year is the best one yet – I hope that is the case for you this year!

  3. Happy New Year Cammy! I reflect in the week between Christmas and NY. January is for making the changes in things based on the reflections of the last year.

    Janus not so popular here with 6 to 12 inches forecast in the next couple of days. Hoping much closer to 6 (or less if possible, thank you).

  4. An interesting transition from 2013 to 2014 for us for sure! With six more weeks of treatment for Bill, our “new beginning” will more likely be when we hear the words cancer-free! In a way, it has served to remind me that new beginnings do happen all the time, not just on January 1.

  5. I have a piece of art that I bought years ago made by a student artist at our local college. It’s called Forward Back and it is a charcoal sketch of a human leaning over and picking up pieces of paper in the lower left corner and that same body (two upper bodies on the same lower body…hard to describe) standing straight, looking forward and placing the pieces in the top right corner, which turns out to be a photograph of the artist as a little girl. It’s really cool and it always reminds me to pick up the pieces of the past that are useful or that I forgot were useful and bring only them into the present. Hey…I think I just wrote a blog! Thanks, Cammy! And happy new year :)

  6. Love this Cammy. Especially “use past lessons as a guide, not a road map.” I hope that’s what I do more often than not.

  7. Agree with you! This year I didn’t make a resolution, per se, just a committment to being better with my finances in general. My hard earned knowledge and experience will come into play for that!

  8. You’re SO right. Perfection is not a good goal. We all get inside our own heads and think too much, compare too much, chastise ourselves too much. Forgiveness is a great gift…we need to give it to ourselves, too!

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