How often have you thought, “I wish I knew then what I know now?” So many of us have those times when we sit around, gazing into the recesses of our souls, scrutinizing our past in an effort to better understand where we are now. More often than not, this journey of reflection illuminates opportunities lost, and people left behind.
When you look back over your life, the odds say there are going to be at least a few things that you would have done differently back in the day. Sure, we could all be millionaires if we had invested in Microsoft or Ebay. Some of us might happily be raising children, married to a loving partner, if we had accepted the date from the high-school geek who we secretly liked, instead of going to prom with the one who rated higher in the “cool” factor. Mom and Dad were right! Europe didn’t disappear and without that scholarship – college never started, much less finished. How much did not getting that haircut impact the decision to hire someone else for the position you knew you were perfect for?
Most of us have a list of, “coulda, shoulda, woulda”… and we all know for certain from that list that our life would not be the same had we done things differently. What we don’t know, is if we had made different decisions, exactly where we would be. Hindsight is always 20/20. Navigating through life is as much about looking forward as it is about looking back. The thing is, until time passes, you just don’t know how things are going to unfold.
It’s easy to look back and see where you may have made mistakes, where you may not have used the best judgment or considered all of the possible outcomes. After living through the consequences of your decisions, you have achieved something that can never be achieved any other way – experience. For good or ill, it is those choices and those experiences resulting from those choices that have shaped you and brought you to where you are now.
There’s always tomorrow
Just because you can’t go back and change the past doesn’t mean that all opportunities are lost forever. In fact, it is quite the opposite. By accepting things as they are and understanding how they came to be, you are more likely to recognize or create even greater opportunity. And, chances are good, life has brought you to the place and circumstances in which you are supposed to be.
The choices you made, you made for a reason. Whether they seem right or wrong now really has no bearing, because they were apparently right for you at that moment in time, and the experiences that followed were necessary to your soul’s development. You can beat yourself up and regret your path by indulging in “coulda, shoulda, woulda” fantasy or you can embrace your unmet desires and find a way to make them a reality.
There is more than one possible outcome for every decision we make. When we look back with regret, we tend to believe that our lives would be better if we had done things differently. It’s possible, but it could also be that what we see as a better choice then, could have been a fatal mistake.
The geek with the family may be a person you could never love, no matter how much they loved you. Not landing the job you thought was your perfect fit may have sent you down a path that may have caused you to excel much further in a slightly different career. Your European expedition changed the way you look at life – and the memories are something that will lift your spirits until you have one foot in the grave. You may not have your formal education now, but it is never too late. Colleges are everywhere, and now you know what your major really should be.
What you did or didn’t do doesn’t dictate what you can do or are capable of doing in the future, it only highlights how to recognize what will bring you fulfillment. So, forge ahead with anticipation! Some of your biggest mistakes are most likely your most valued blessings.
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