Your Dreams Aren’t In Your Rearview Mirror

By Nancy Fredericks


Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.

It doesn’t bode well for anyone driving toward a new “can’t wait to get there” destination by focusing on the rearview mirror instead of the front windshield. Operating your career with the same mindset leads to disaster as well.

Everyone I’ve ever coached wants a fulfilling, thriving career. Rearview mirror living generates the very opposite. The quality and prominence of your job are affected by your thoughts. Unfortunately, recycling what you did or didn't do right won't change anything. It harms you.

Such reminiscing only adds value to your professional growth when you highlight the wisdom acquired and your decisions moving forward—never bemoan what could have been or didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped.

Ready for several clues that reveal your career attitude is rearview window driven?

  • Regret: This emotion is one many of us feel… “I wish I had.” If only I hadn’t.” “Why? Why?” Why?” None of these spiraling downward thoughts lead to a thriving career. They hold you stuck. Unsurprisingly, an Allianz survey confirms that at least a third of Americans regret major life choices, including professional regrets. And your career is listed as number two! The truth is that we’re all imperfect human beings, so that we can expect stumbles. Stop your spiraling down thoughts and convert them to spiraling up ones that have you choosing to move outside of disappointing patterns into ones that support you in achieving a satisfying, rewarding future for yourself.
  • Fear: What story are you telling yourself? Does it have elements of fear, or is it hopeful? Neither fear nor hope is a reality. Both are future-oriented, conceiving emotions without a guarantee of coming to fruition. Still, one opens the door to the possibility of a better future tomorrow than today—and the other doesn’t. Focusing your mental feedback muscle on going after more substantial outcomes will develop into self-fulfilling prophecies. Researchers have found that HOPE fuels persistence, motivation, goal setting, and innovation. When you view life with expectancy—you’re 14 percent more productive at work than a colleague who doesn’t! So, which one offers you the possibility of a fulfilling, thriving outcome?
  • Failure: Research from Stanford University reveals a correlation between the executives at the leading-edge of their field of endeavor and their high fail rate….That is, if you don’t remain stuck. To do so is a waste of a terrific opportunity. There’s no question that at the root of failure is the prospect to:
    • Acquire new learning and ways to handle your career better,
    • Solving problems effectively,
    • Challenge old, broken ways of doing business to generate new innovative solutions,
    • And it builds resiliency, an essential career skill.

Are you convinced that to F A I L is nothing more than a:
To Lift-Off your career!?

You must understand there is only one thing standing in the way of achieving your career aspiration, and it is spending too much time looking backward. Reflecting on the rearview mirror doesn’t set you up for success. Your present is where you turn your professional ambitions and hopes into reality…not in the past!

Please don’t spend your time in areas that produce little joy…let alone a prospering career. For it may cause you to miss capturing your dreams.

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