I was asked a question the other day that many of us are presented with on a regular basis. It’s an interesting one to say the least as it requires you to step outside and look in with hindsight awareness and knowledge on your life both professionally and personally.

Before we jump into it…hindsight knowledge is a funny animal. When you go into situations throughout your life, you try to make the best decisions you can given the facts presented to you at the time. With hindsight, you are able to know all of the facts and an outcome given certain actions. In essence, it is cheating and that is why I typically do not like looking at situations in hindsight.

So onto the question…

Looking back at your professional life up until this point, is there anything you would have done differently?

The short answer…no. But let me explain.

Given that this is a yes or no answer, there are two types of people that answer a certain way.

  1. If you are happy with your life and your current situation, you typically answer no.
  2. If you are unhappy with your life and current situation, you typically answer yes.

Makes sense…but let’s look into it a little bit deeper and then I’ll give you my angle.

I Wouldn’t Change A Thing

The person that is happy with their spot in life wouldn’t change a thing. Why is that? Each of the experiences in our lives brings us to where we are today. It affects the people we meet, the decisions we make and the path we eventually walk. By changing any one of these decisions and actions, we are derailing the path and we end up at a different destination.

If you are happy with your life, why would you want to change anything? Yes…there are decisions that you could have made in the past that you could have done better, but the person that answers no to this question uses this as fuel to make better decisions in the future instead of focusing on the bad decisions of the past. It isn’t regret or depression. It is motivation to become better.

I Would Have Done Things Differently

For the person that answers that they would have done things differently, this normally stems from a dissatisfaction in their current state. Instead of trying harder for the future, this person looks to the past and what they could have done differently to be in a different situation today…instead of looking where they want to be in the future. By focusing on what they can not change (the past), they can separate themselves from the responsibility and ownership of making things better.

Let’s put it this way…if you are running into people that are always complaining about how they could have done it better, they are always performing sub par to their abilities because one day they will be complaining about today. Instead of using the time an energy it takes to make a true difference, they are wasting that time worrying about thoughts and actions they can not change.

Would I Change Anything?

Absolutely not. My life has not been perfect by any stretch and I am not alone in that fact. But the experiences I have had through the course of my life has made me who I am today. My life time line has given me a beautiful wife, two great dogs, a great family and a house I can call my own. Could I have more? Sure. Are there more things I want? Absolutely, but the fact that I do want more makes me strive to be better…not worry about how I could have gotten those things in the past.

As we look back on our lives with hindsight knowledge, use those experiences for what they are…fuel for the future. That is your ammo to take on the world with the knowledge that you can be bigger and better. While others will let the past cripple their growth, you are going to use it to allow you to fly even higher…

Image by DimitryB