You Don’t Get Yesterday Back

You don’t get yesterday back, but you don’t have to let yesterday own today.

When you are working on projects for your business or jobs, sometimes you become crippled in your ability to move forward because of the setbacks that you have encountered. The project may be 11 months overdue and $70,000 over budget. It may look like the external developer has no idea how to solve the technical problem that you are trying to address. Or you might have taken on a client that is so demanding that they are taking all of your time. Or you might have just failed to plan well, and your project is so far behind that you won’t have a chance to catch up to make the deadline. Missing the deadline will result in lost revenue and some very uncomfortable conversations at the lunchroom table.

When you wake up in the morning any, or all, of these situations, may weigh on you. The key is to focus on how you are going to move forward today. Too often we focus on the amount of effort that we have sunk into something and then work on getting back the cost. (Sunk Cost Fallacy) When we think about what we have accomplished today but instead of celebrating the small wins that we have, we think about how insignificant it is compared to the mountain of issues. Comparing like this is called anchoring. We compare the trouble of yesterday with the small win from today, and we still feel that there is a mountain of trouble.

Focus on your forward movement today. When a football team is down 32 to 7, they don’t look at the scoreboard. The team then looks to get the next 5 yards. Then they focus on getting the next 5 yards to get the first down. And then they celebrate. And if they focus enough on the next 10 yards, and keep enjoying the small wins, they can eventually get the first touchdown, and then the second, and then win the game.

You will never get yesterday back. You don’t get a do-over like you would in a video game. But just because your choices or situation wasn’t ideal yesterday, doesn’t mean that you have to accept yesterday as the ending place. You can always change today. Go: focus on the small win that you will achieve today. Celebrate your victory, and set yourself up for tomorrow’s success. Before you know it the mountain that seemed insurmountable has been conquered.