While I don’t think we should spend much time thinking of the past, wishing away our present or dreading the future I think it could be valuable to briefly look at the past.
Some things we lived through were out of our control and we could not change if we wanted to. My parents’ divorce and the upheaval of life as I knew it at age 8 is not something I had any decision or control of. Perhaps some of my behaviors and choices in life came as a result of it but I think we all know that children of divorce have to work through that.
The things that I look back on and would do a “redo” if given the opportunity would include putting away money (and not taking it out) for retirement starting at a young age. If I had done that I would be a multi millionaire at this age and could retire early. I share this nugget of wisdom with young people anytime I get the chance hoping they don’t make the mistake I did.
Another redo would be to spend less time trying to do things “perfectly ” as a parent and relax and enjoy my kids during their young growing up years. I wish I had more fun, enjoying watching them learn, explore, and even allowed mistakes. I was too strict, eager to control and worried about how they reflected on me as a parent rather than just letting them be who they were.
If I could go back I would stop always wishing for the next best thing, whether it was a different house, car, vacation, clothes, or job. I would learn to be satisfied, content and enjoy what I had.
The last thing I would try to change is my relationships with my spouse, parents and friends. I would be more vulnerable, open, honest, and caring. I would seek to serve more than be served. I would invest more time with the people in my life than being too busy working or going to meetings or social/professional clubs.
Is it good to reflect on the past? Maybe not often but I think it can help us change how we live presently and go toward the future. The things I have wished for “do-overs” are the things I am practicing now. Hopefully my years after 50 will be what family and friends remember me most by.