When learning to work effectively with the universal laws it becomes important to reevaluate how we look at time. When we get stuck in the past - pining away over how we wish something would have gone, feeling guilt, regret, etc. we remain stuck there. We cannot hope for progress or new joy if we remain victims of the past.
Those who direct all their energy towards "future" goals also get caught in a similar trap. They postpone joy and full awareness believing that happiness is a goal rather than a choice and part of the journey itself. Joy, peace, gratitude should all have a place in the "now". If you give all of your energy to the future, you will find that your bliss also remains in your future.
Does this mean you shouldn't have goals for the future? No - of course not. Dreams and inspired actions because of those dreams are what keep us motivated and growing - embracing change. What you should not do is pin the results (happiness, satisfaction) on the future - embrace those now. Allow yourself to love the journey itself, be grateful for all of your experiences and you will find the universe opens so many doors for you that you can't fathom them all.
Being in the present, fully aware takes practice. It requires us to slow down, to consciously direct our thoughts/emotions to "what is" as opposed to what was or what will be. When we slow down to pay attention to our thoughts we often find they are directed anywhere but now - but the present is where you manifest. Your thoughts right now are manifesting the energies that are making their way into your life. If you interrupt that "now" thinking and redirect your energy backwards or forwards you lose momentum.
Does this mean you have to have total mind control at all times? No, but it does mean you need to learn to be mindful of where your thoughts/energy are going and redirect them. When you notice things are not going as you like or you are feeling "off" or confused etc. it is a sure sign you've been living in the past/future and not in the now.
Retraining the mind takes dedication and practice, but it gets easier in time. Your mind is the most powerful thing you have, yet people often don't realize it and neglect it - and they find themselves struggling because of it. Your mind is a great gift - and it is connected directly to Universal Knowledge and Wisdom. "I am one with the Universal Mind" is a mantra I use regularly when I feel answers are not flowing easily. I meditate on that, put myself completely in the present moment and let go of "time constraints" and impatience. I know that the infinite flows through me and that my correct answers will appear in the time that is right - not the time constraints that I place out of a fear based need for a false sense of control.
Impatience and wanting everything immediately - that desire for instant gratification is a fear based belief system. We get impatient when we fear things are not going to go our way. That energy - fear, impatience, etc deafens our receptivity to the universe and causes our answers to elude us. Put your problem or question out there to the universe in the now and know that your answers are manifesting and coming your way without a need for you to struggle to see them etc. They will come to you if you let go and relax and allow them to happen according to divine providence/timing.
Those who learn to consciously focus their thoughts achieve greater levels of inner well being and find that they open up to many new possibilities. Don't focus on "timelines" rather focus on where you are and how to use that to its fullest benefit so that the universe will lay out the clear path for you to walk into the future.
As for your past, look back long enough to bless it for what it has taught you and then redirect your attention/energy to the present.