How Looking in the Rear-View Mirror can Steer Where you are Going

Transformation is something we more easily see in the rear-view mirror than out the side window. David Benner

 What’s the view out of your side window like at the moment?

Fast and furious? Blurred, as the year whizz’s by you?

In this post I want to sow an idea in your thinking that you might like to mull over and see where it takes you.

As I write this it is but a couple of weeks until the best week of the year, in my opinion.

It’s that short little time between Christmas and New Year.

Here in New Zealand it is summer time and this week is often used as the first week of summer holidays for many people. Shops, factories and offices close down and people hit the beach for some much needed rest and recovery.

This final week is crucial for me.

It’s like I have been driving a car for a whole year. I have experienced many mountain tops, and beautiful beaches. I have also gone through dark depression tunnels and been stung by wild lashing storms.

Now I stop and look in the rear-view mirror and wonder how I have changed from this journey. What has formed me?

As someone who struggles with depression, I can very easily look back emotionally and only see black clouds and lightless tunnels. In reality though there have been many summer days.

My true reality is a glorious mess of light and dark, both of which I must embrace. (Would you like to Tweet that?)

As I spend time reading scripture, I journey with people like myself. I read this verse in Job yesterday

 See, before God I am as you are;

I too was formed from a piece of clay. Job 33:6

How has the year formed and moulded your clay?


Ten Steps to finish well.

1. Stop the Car. Schedule some time for yourself. You can’t really have a good look back wards while you are driving and looking ahead. So pull over from the busyness of your life. Schedule as much time as possible for this. Don’t rush the view!

2. Compile all your memory joggers. Gather together your journals, diaries, collections of photos, and anything else that will trigger memories of the journey for you.

3. Pray. Ask God to come and highlight areas of the journey that he wants you to examine further.

4. Be creative. For some it might a large piece of paper where you write down events of the year. For others it could be a collage of images, ‘post it’ notes stuck to a wall, mind maps. Let’s get creative and have fun!

5. Briefly list out all that comes to mind – highs/ lows, successes/ failures. Everything that comes to mind. Big things, little things. Cup fillers/ Cup Drainers. Don’t be afraid to list out the painful experiences as they can often hold some of the most valuable of lessons. Explore the millimetre experiences as well as the metre experiences. It is easy to see the large changes in our lives such as a change in career, but most journeys involve small subtle millimetre experiences that are deeply profound in the long-term.

6. Write a brief sentence about what you have learnt from these experiences.

7. Look for trends, themes, and threads in your story. Are there similar patterns happening? Could God be saying something to you that could be summed up in a paragraph?

8. Count your Blessings and Give Grace. Prayerfully give thanks for the year and give yourself and others grace for the mistakes and failures made.

9. Share with a friend. Write out what you have learnt on a single page and share with a safe person. I will be doing this with my wife and my Balcony mates.

10. List 2 -3 habits you want to have forming your future. Considering this reflective journey you have taken and that you are about to get back into the car of your life and tackle another year. What habits do you want to develop that will transform your journey for the next year?

Some quotes to consider

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first time and the lesson afterwards. Vernon Sanders Law

We’ve all heard, “Experience is the best teacher,” but it’s simply not true. Experience is not the best teacher; it never has been and never will be.  Maturity doesn’t always come with time; sometimes age brings nothing more than wrinkles and gray hair. Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is the best teacher. Reflective thinking is needed to turn experience into insight. We draw lessons from the past only when we study it. John Maxwell

What [a person] knows at fifty that he did not know at twenty is not the knowledge of  formulas or forms of words, but of people, places, actions—a knowledge gained by touch,  sight, sound, victories, failures, sleeplessness, devotion, love—the human experiences and emotions of this earth and of oneself and of other men. Adlai Stevenson


Question to Consider 

  • What would it take for you to schedule some time to stop and go through this exercise?
  • What habits have formed you this last year?


Email me after you have done this exercise. I would love to hear how you found it.


Barry Pearman

Image by Alex Carmichal Creative Commons Flickr