Focus on the Future for Better Relationships

If you want less stress and better relationships, then focus on the future. Unfortunately, many people live in the past. They replay conversations and events in their head repeatedly, analyzing what happened and what each party said. While it is good to understand the past so we learn and grow, living in the past often results in negative emotions. That’s why it’s important we all focus on the future.

This advice is especially important today. As we all start engaging with family and friends in face-to-face settings again, focusing on the future will promote healthy relationships. So here’s my best advice: When you interact with family, loved ones, close friends, and other valued people, don’t begin a new conversation with the baggage from the last one–or even think about it. If you do, one incident or perceived slight can adversely influence that conversation along with days or weeks of future communications.

Look Ahead

Goodman Ace, the legendary game show producer, had a classic observation: “If you can’t recall it, forget it.” In many cases, we can’t even recall why we were angry or upset. We can’t accurately recall the details or even the nuances of what happened. So, don’t try. Start fresh. Approach every communication as a new one.

I was reminded of this advice recently when someone asked me what my favorite quotation was. Immediately came my response: “Don’t look back; something may be gaining on you.”

I have no idea how old I was when I heard this quotation by Satchel Paige, perhaps the greatest professional baseball pitcher of all time, but it must have had a profound effect on me. My entire life has been concerned with the future, rather than the past. That’s why I suggest everyone focuses on the future if they want better relationships.

Tip: Life is more enjoyable when you focus on the future. Learn from the past and feel free to reminisce about the good times with loved ones. But to make the most of your current relationships and live your best life, keep your focus in front of you—on all the good yet to come.