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Looking Ahead, Not Behind



The year 2022 is fast coming to a close, and 2023 is almost upon us. In fact, we have only one more day left before the New Year arrives.


It's a time of reflection when people tend to glance backward with satisfaction for things accomplished or with regrets for things left undone. It's also a time for either anticipation of opportunities that lie ahead and goals we want to accomplish or, for some people, dread of the problems they might encounter along the way.


Although it can be satisfying and even edifying to glance backward at goals achieved and lessons learned, we cannot allow that glance to become a nostalgic staring that prevents us from accomplishing anything. Assuming that we have begun to apply the lessons learned from the past, we must begin looking forward, focusing on the present and the future, if we are to make the next year better than the last one.


My glance backward shows me that I accomplished many things in 2022. (I summarized many of those in an earlier post, so I won't belabor them in this one.) But as I move into 2023, I can neither rest on those laurels nor wallow in regrets over what I didn't accomplish or the failures I had. What is past, whether good or bad, is past. All I can do is make the most of the present moment at my disposal. Only by doing this day by day throughout 2023 can I ever hope to accomplish anything worthwhile.

Tennis legend Arthur Ashe said, "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."


That's good advice for not only tennis players but also writers. If we are to make any progress in our craft, whether improving our skills or seeing them showcased in published work, requires that we start here and now; work with the tools, ideas, and experience we have; and move forward one step at a time, refusing to look back except to review the lessons and be encouraged by the successes of the past.


Each of us is writing a life story of some sort, and 2023 is but one chapter in that story. What will you write in that chapter during the year ahead? What will this chapter of your life story tell your readers?


Whatever you produce in the coming year will be determined, first of all, by who you are. I mean the real you, who you are on the inside, your true character. Somehow, that will always come out in what we write. Someone has said, "It makes not so much difference where you are as who you are." So determine to be someone whose writing is worthy of emulation.

Second, once we begin, we will be faced with multiple opportunities to do "charitable" work, that is, we'll be asked to do some writing (or editing) gratis. And once we agree to one such request, many more will follow, so we must choose our "charities" carefully. After all, we presumably are writing (at least in part) for some form of remuneration. Invest yourself and your skills where you are most needed. Establish your priorities accordingly.

And third, we must beware of always expecting something "way off over yonder somewhere" to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. For some reason, we never seem to see anything worthwhile right where we are, in our own back yard. We tend to see "success" only somewhere else. We see lush green pastures only on the other side of the fence while we're oblivious to the lush, green grass on which we're standing. As someone has said, we must "believe in the great opportunities that are right here, not over [there]."


No one knows what 2023 holds for any of us. But whatever it is, we must keep our eyes forward, doing what we can where we are with what we have, and leave the results to God.


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