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How to Learn from your Experiences

One of the few things that are good about getting older is that you learn things along the way; things that can help you when you face new things in the future. But this only works if you actually do learn something from the things you do, and if you apply them when new situations arise.

One of the hallmarks of intelligent people is their ability to reach back into their past whenever new situations arise; to compare their current circumstances with those that were present in other situations and then to use that information to help them make a better, smarter decision when the time comes.

The thing is, some people learn to do this naturally as they grow up. It becomes a part of who they are, and thus, it’s not something they have to consciously do, it just happens whenever some new thing comes along.

Other people on the other hand, don’t seem to learn this when they’re kids, or even after they’ve grown older. They continue to make decisions as if every new situation were something they had never seen before, and thus, don’t always make the best decisions. Also, they tend to make the same mistakes over and over.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Using past experiences to help make future decisions or current ones for that matter is something practically anyone can do, provided they are willing to work on it.

The way to go about learning how to do this is by first deciding to really do it; not think about it, or maybe try it at some later date. To make this work you have to start right away when the idea is fresh in your mind.

Next, you have to buy yourself a little pack of note-cards that will fit in your back pocket or purse. It doesn’t matter what kind, just that you have something to pull out when you need it. You’ll need a pen or pencil too.

Then, on the first card, write down the words “Remember when…” Just like that. Put that card on the top of your little deck and file the whole works away in your pocket or purse. Then, get on with living your normal regular life; but all the while watching and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike; for that moment when the situation arises that you need to make a decision. It might be as simple as what to have for lunch or it might be more difficult, such as choosing your retirement plan. Whatever it is, when that time comes, reach into your back pocket or purse and pull out your cards, and read those words on the first one. “Remember when…” And then, finish the sentence with something that is pertinent to your current situation. Remember when you ordered that BLT last week and it gave you heartburn all afternoon? Or Remember when you signed up for your 401(k) without first talking things over with your wife and how she got so mad she slammed the bathroom door on your finger and how you couldn’t use that hand for at least a weak. These are the types of memories you should try to dredge up when confronted with a new decision to make.

And then, as you make these new decisions, write down on one of the cards what memory you used to make that decision, and then, the next time you are faced with a decision to make, even if it’s about something completely different, you’ll see that card, and it will remind you of the process you went through and you’ll know by then how it all worked out so you can see the benefits of your efforts in action.

And the odds are good that they will be many.

Then, all you have to do is keep it up.