Part 2: Mastering Your Past

R&R 2.0 Series
Part 2: Mastering Your Past

High-achieving professionals and business owners are focused on the future.  

Even after significant “wins”, the focus for many of us quickly shifts to “what’s next”.  Over the long-term, this can lead to burnout, discontent, and feeling trapped; even isolated.

Taking the time now to inventory and connect with our past can boost our self-awareness and confidence, and better position us to win at both work and life.  


The Habits of Winning

High-achievers do things that many others don’t or won’t, and even do things that we may not have previously thought possible.

Commitment to excellence and winning is vital to establishing ourselves as successful professionals and business owners.  Following through on commitments also helps build our character and self-esteem.

Whatever motivated us to pursue our path – the challenge, the paycheck, the standing in society, or the expectations of others – a full commitment was necessary.  

Early on, most of us needed to take ownership to target a direction for our lives and focus our time to realize our future.  We needed to select a school and a major. We needed to get through 8:00 a.m. classes and a challenging curriculum. We needed to secure and succeed in internships and residencies, and we needed to pass tests for licenses and certifications.  We formed the habits needed for success.

At some point, however, many of us lost some ownership in the details and the direction of our lives.


“As we pursue and achieve success in our careers, many of us lose some ownership in the details and the direction of our lives.”  

-Peter C. Atherton


The Price of “All In”

For virtually all professions, excelling, achieving standing, and having success requires us to be “all in” for an extended period – often 10, 20, or even 30 years.  That is what it takes to master our craft, make a name, and build our platform.  

Professional and entrepreneurial success is as much or more about applied knowledge than it is about information alone.  We need to make judgments. We need to operate in gray areas.

To get to this point, we need to gain both experience and understanding.  There is no other way to do this than to spend the appropriate amount of time in our craft to learn, do, fail, seek more opportunities, and repeat.  

The more time and the more focus, the more growth – and the quicker the path to success.  There is so much to learn on the job, especially in the early years, and our commitment to do so can be consuming.  This can be consuming in a positive and productive way… but this can also work against us.

Over time, our commitment to our careers can cause us to lose touch with ourselves and others, lose track of our accomplishments, and lose clarity of where things may be heading.


“After a decade or two spent mastering our careers, many of us look up and realize we may be losing touch, track, and clarity with our lives.”

 -Peter C. Atherton


Mastering Our Past

If we are feeling burned-out, disengaged, trapped, or even isolated, we need to take inventory and connect with our past.  

We need to recognize, appreciate, and preserve our successes to date as a first step in being able to master our past.  Doing so is essential to better understanding our present (Part 3 of this Series)… and then leveraging both to achieve our desired future (Part 4 and Part 5).

Before I had the conviction to give my final 2-year notice to my partners, I went through a process of accounting for and documenting my past successes.  This all began by chance when my son asked me to review his college co-op resume.

I was impressed, not just with the content as a proud Dad, but with the format. The flow was different than I remembered and what I normally saw from candidates interested in joining our firm.  

I also realized that it had been over 15 years since I last developed a resume for myself.  

I had updated a “corporate resume” for years, but it was not the same.  Corporate resumes focus only on industry projects, positions, and roles.  

I decided to build a more complete resume.  I began to use the “margin” I created in my life to do so, and I modified the format to better reflect components representative of a 20 plus year career.  

This newer format helped me highlight my skills, qualities, and career progression, as well as my work outside of the office.  

A link to the format and content created can be found here: resume example.

As I documented my progression and achievements, I felt like I began to enjoy them – some for the first time.  Having these documented, and being able to reflect on them, helped me put my successes into perspective.

I also began to recognize and become excited about transferable skills and experiences that could be used for greater impact beyond what I was currently doing.  This helped build up my confidence and give me the courage to venture into a new chapter of my career.


Your Homework

Build your resume.  

Use the “margin” established as part of Part 1 of this Series over the next several weeks to do so.

Take the time to account for and document:

  • Your overarching level of achievement,
  • Your professional highlights and personal qualities,
  • The details of your various roles, duties, formed skills, and achieved outcomes for each level of your career progression,
  • Your roles, experiences, and impact outside of the office,
  • Your educational achievements, certifications, and awards earned, and
  • Any other personal skills, hobbies, and interests that help round-out who you are.

Your up-to-date resume will help you gain perspective and much greater awareness.  

You will be better able to recognize and celebrate the full scope of your accomplishments.  You will also be better positioned to close any gaps between the life you have and the one you desire, while you form new winning habits that will help you reverse and avoid burnout.

To your winning,

PS – Ready to stop feeling burned-out, disengaged, and that you are missing out?  Check out: 7-weeks to Reversing Burnout and Avoiding It Forever Fast Start Program   

PSS – Click HERE to receive a free download of “3 Ways You Can Immediately Begin to Reverse Burnout”

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Pete Atherton

About the Author

Pete is the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC and author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners. ActionsProve works with professionals and business owners to create greater growth and profits through more effective employee attraction, retention, and impact.  Prior to founding ActionsProve, and for more than 20 years, Pete was a very successful and accomplished professional engineer. Pete sold his engineering firm ownership to focus on designing systems for you and your organization to grow and succeed in more relevant and effective ways. For over a dozen years, Pete has also been serving in multiple capacities in the non-profit sector to achieve both local and global impact, and is a co-founder of the 100 Men Who Care chapter for Knoxville and the 100 Men Who Care chapter for Southern Maine.

For a more expansive biography and experience summary.

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R&R 2.0 Series – Part 2: Mastering Your Past