When you hear people talk about their past decisions it’s not uncommon to hear them say things like, “If I had invested all of my money twenty years ago in Best-Performer-in-the-Market company I would now be rich.” “If I had…” they say, not “If I had known I would have….” Then you can see them go on to imagine the life they would have had, which they clearly imagine would be void of all the problems they experience today, if they had accurately predicted the future. The exercise is pointless, self-destructive, and from my observation unavoidable.
Regret may serve us well. Lessons from our past mistakes may guide us towards more informed decisions today. But regret wasted on blaming ourselves for not accurately predicting how we would feel at life’s junctures before we got there, and for the impact of all outside events we had no control over, is a waste of time. If you are the type of person who needs to assign responsibility so much so that you will take responsibility yourself if you can’t find anyone else suitable to blame, you understand the despair of regret. And you understand being temporarily immobilized – so consumed with the past that you are unable to see all the present options before you. But if you had invested all your money twenty years ago you wouldn’t have had any money twenty years ago when you needed some of that money to pay the rent. You didn’t miss the boat. That boat was never an option. Waste no more time. Do your best from where you’re at and look back for guidance only.