Letting Go of Yesterday and Using the Gift of the Present

Be Present

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” ~Alice Morse Earle

Did you make a mistake yesterday? Or did something bad happen to you a few weeks ago? Are you still dwelling on it, doing all you can to move on? Then this post is for you.

Why? Because I want you to know that you’re not alone.

Just like you, my past wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. No one in this world has a past that is sparkling clean and error-free. We've all made mistakes. That's life. And that’s what makes us human.

About eight weeks ago I received an offer to study for my diploma in fitness in Melbourne. Having lived in Sydney for ten years, receiving the offer was a dream come true, but not because I got accepted for the course. It’s because I’ve always wanted to live in Melbourne ever since I was a teenager.

I accepted the offer thinking it was a great opportunity. I did not consult anyone; I merely did it for myself. I didn’t even have the slightest clue of what the course was about, where I was going to stay, and if it made sense financially.

This turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

A day after I accepted the offer, I told my parents. They’ve never tried to talk me out of doing anything I wanted to, but this time Mum was a little hesitant.

She wondered why it was last minute and stressed how I hadn’t even arranged anything. I, on the other hand, justified my decisions by telling her and everyone else around me that it was a good opportunity, although I knew I probably couldn’t afford the move.

A week later, with a few hundred dollars in savings and slight credit card debt, I made the trip down to Melbourne with my selfless parents, who decided to help me find an apartment and settle in.

Things went well. I found a nice place and generally liked Melbourne, but something felt off. As hours turned to days, I felt more and more restless and knew something wasn’t right. My finances backfired on me and soon enough, everything went down.

After living a few days in denial, I allowed myself to let go of anger about what I’d done and replace it with self-compassion.

I then did something I should’ve done even before I decided to move—I spoke to my mother and told her I wasn’t in a great financial position and it wasn’t the right decision for me at that point in time.

A day after, I turned the apartment down, rejected the offer, and drove 540 miles home, with an added financial stress that was completely unnecessary.

You may have experienced something similar. Perhaps you were as silly as I was to do things without thinking. Or perhaps things were worse for you. We make mistakes. Everyone does, and I want you to know that it is okay.

The clock ticks forward, and soon enough the mistake that you made a second ago is history. It might take days, months, or years to learn and address the consequences of the mistake, but every day forward is an opportunity to make things right.

Worrying about it does not get you anywhere. Thinking about how to learn from the experience and make things better is a good start. But actually doing things to learn from the mistake is the fundamental part of really moving forward.

If you’re having a hard time letting go of yesterday and seizing today, remember:

Yesterday is History

Yesterday is history.

It's done. Record it into your history book and close it.

Yesterday could have been the best day of your life.

Your long-term partner proposed, or you landed a raise at work. Maybe you met someone who you feel is good for you. Remember it fondly but don't live in the past. Instead, let your happy memories push you forward when times get tough.

Yesterday could have been the worst day of your life.

You might’ve lost your savings or someone you held close to your heart. Although it might take some time to move on from any tragedies you faced yesterday, every day forward will get better.

Yesterday you made decisions; they may now seem good, they may seem bad.

But that was yesterday. If you stay positive, you can choose to make the best of your decision today.

Yesterday cannot be changed.

It is indeed too late to change the things you did in the past, but it's not too late to change the things you're planning to do today. Learn from your mistakes and act on what you’ve learned.

Tomorrow is a Mystery

Tomorrow is a mystery.

It hasn't happened yet, so don't sweat the small things. Be kind to yourself; it has the power to make you happy.

Tomorrow depends on the choices you make today.

Dream and start doing things to work toward that dream right now. 

Tomorrow is not certain.

Life can make a 180-degree change in less than a day, and we cannot control them. We can make plans, but plans change. Anticipate and remember that.

Tomorrow is an opportunity.

If you did something great today, you have the opportunity tomorrow to create something better. If you did something that seems bad, you have the opportunity tomorrow to make it good. It’s your choice.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

So don’t waste today worrying about what will happen then. Life’s too short to dwell on things that are uncertain.

Today is a Gift

Today is a certain opportunity.

You can use it to decide where you want to go in life. If you don't love what you’re doing, use this opportunity to change something.

Today can be the first day of the rest of your life.

Create new habits, surprise yourself, and put a smile on your own face by doing things you love.

Today you can be better than you were yesterday.

And you know you can be better than you were yesterday.

Today you have the power to make great choices for your health, body and mind.

You are strong enough today to say no to that can of soda. You are strong enough today to remove yourself from negative people. You are strong enough, period.

Today is your only chance to experience this present moment.

It will never come again

Don’t beat yourself up for what has happened in the past. We’ve all made mistakes; failure is imperative to leading a successful life. Learn from yesterday by doing things today that have the power to make tomorrow great. I know you can.

What are you doing today to make full use of the gift given to you?

Photo by Eddi van W

About Aqilah Norazman

Aqilah Norazman makes mistakes but strives to learn from it. As a health coach, she teaches fitness, nutrition and being happy to her Pretty Awesome Fitness community and clients. Click here to grab her free eBook and follow her adventures that’ll leave you smiling.

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  • Manasa Pruppala

    amazing… Loved it totally…….

  • JMM

    Nice piece 🙂

  • Great post. I’ve made similar mistakes in my life and had to learn the hard way that fretting about the past won’t change it. The only thing we can change is what we do today.

  • Talya Price

    Great article. We all make mistakes but the best thing to do is to learn from them, move on and live in the present moment.

  • Thanks JMM. 🙂

  • Thank you Manasa. Glad you liked it. 🙂

  • That’s it. You got that right. Thanks Talya.

  • Yes. And look forward to a brighter future. Thanks Lovelyn!

  • Jagadish

    Hi Really while reading it I feel it is written for me only because I always hangout in past or dreamed in future because of this nature iI last all opportunities in life so I lernt good things from your articel try to implememy it tx

  • Criss

    Thank you 🙂

  • My pleasure, Criss. 🙂

  • I hope it works out well, Jagadish. 🙂

  • artemis

    What I learned yesterday Aqilah. I have been hurting and struggling from the pain of where I am in my life because I am leaving a marriage of nearly 30 years. Having to start again at 53yo, the loss of my life in the marriage and doing it alone.
    But what I learned yesterday and know today was, I could of been suffering for the rest of my life if I decided to stay knowing what I know today. But they would never happen.
    I realized where I am today is because of yesterday and that I have given myself another chance of hope with a new beginning.
    What can I say! Having this realization stopped the suffering I felt yesterday and today replaced it with hope I gave myself for a better and happy future.

  • Someone

    A good read, but I think you meant a ‘180 degrees turn’ instead of 360. Otherwise, there’s no change 😉

  • I think, as far as I’ve learned things, they were all by my own mistakes. Even though I read this post now I know I will make mistake and then get the lesson. It is really helpful to know from someone who have already done the mistake, but It’s best suitable if we feel it ourselves.

    However, this was a great post Aqilah and I visited your “about me” on your website. Congrats to all the medals you’ve received 🙂

  • That’s true, Nikola. In order for us to embrace our mistakes for a better future, we have to make the mistakes ourselves. Thank you for your kind words. 🙂

  • Where we are today, our thoughts, actions and decisions are usually shaped by what we’ve been through in the past, both good and bad. I really hope things will go well and better in your life today and in the near future, Artemis. My well wishes are for you.

  • Thank you for pointing that out. We’ve made the change. 🙂

  • artemis

    Aqilah your article brought this awareness and realization of my situation. It made such a huge difference to how I perceive my life and future today compared to the struggle and suffering I felt yesterday.
    I feel like a completely different person.
    Thank you so….. much and for your kind wishes.

  • No worries, Artemis. All the best to you. 🙂

  • what i learn about this post is that don’t stop dreaming go on and have fun…the pain i feel inside grows for a long time but i learn to let go and trying to meet new one..i am writing an article about meeting a strangers along the way.. pleas help me improve it and make some comments feel free to visit

  • simirani

    Hi Aqilah! great article 🙂 definitely motivating needed this today.. we always need a little motivation even when we already know what the truth is and yes definitely we always learn from our own mistakes… People even our own parents can tell us but we only learn and grow when we experience it ourselves 🙂 Cheers.. Stay Positive!

  • Thank you for sharing this again 🙂

  • infinite

    There’s a phrase in Buddhism, “yesterday is the past, every” today “is a kind of rebirth”
    People always think oneself is very painful,
    Because people always remember “I haven’t XX”
    And forget “I already have a XX”
    To cherish the things you have,
    You will find that you are very rich, very happy,
    This is called “happiness consists in contentment”
    If you always think you have nothing,
    Even if you are a billionaire, you are just a poor “billionaire”,
    Needing less, Wanting more, That is the root of worries.
    Time is just fantasy of your heart
    I hope you can happiness next second.

  • infinite

    There was a young man asked an old man
    “Why did you do successfully?
    Can be so successful?
    Why do I always fail? ”
    Old man said, “because I have wisdom”
    The young man
    “That you of wisdom come from?”
    The elders “wisdom comes from experience,”
    Young people “experience come from?”
    Old man said, “experience come from failure”

    Don’t lose heart, in front of the life we were young,

  • There is a great new TED talk by Andrew Solomon that talks about seeing our past as us being a hero fighting a dragon. I try to look at my past and be forgiving. Because I would not be who I am without it.

    Its just the short-term difficulties I have a hard time getting over. They are the more tricky ones.

    Great post!

  • We can be trapped by are yesterdays and let them hold us down. It’s a lifetime’s work to live in the moment and face forward. We can learn from our mistakes – and there is a lesson is everything – and use them to be stronger and better people. And as we get older we can get better at letting go and enjoying the time we have even though there may be less of it.