Looking back …

January 17, 2012 — 17 Comments


Time Travel Clock by Bob Borson


Hindsight is 20/20, or so the phrase goes. It basically means that if you knew then what you know now, you would do things differently and avoid some mistake or misstep.

Other than being able to possibly avoid some catastrophic event, the idea that you would look at your current state of affairs and wish that you had done things differently (like “I should have become a doctor” or “I should have bought Apple stock in January of  2003”)  doesn’t actually change anything for you other than provide you with the opportunity to learn from that mistake or decision and move on … hopefully not to repeat.

If I could go back in time what would I do? The first 5 or 6 things don’t actually have anything to do with me directly, I’m doing stuff like telling my Mom to go to the doctor, stopping my friend from getting in the car … it’s a while until I get to me and when I finally do dial myself up – surprise! –  I am still an architect

… except I’m an architect who has won the lottery


… twice (going back in time is awesome for winning the lottery)


I don’t generally like to get too preachy on this site – I mean, who am I to tell you anything about what you shoulda – coulda – woulda? I just make stuff up as I go and as a result, I’ve made my fair share of regrettable decisions. If you added up all my actions and in-actions, well, you get who I am today. While I continue to be a work in progress, for the most part I’m pretty happy with myself, just as you should be happy with who you are (which is not the same as being content with how you are).

It’s a valuable exercise to look back from time to time and evaluate your decisions and their ramifications so that you have some inkling as to why you did what you did in an effort to prepare yourself when you are in a similar position moving forward. As you get older, you think more about the motivations behind the decisions rather than the decisions themselves, your end game is a little further out than when you’re in your 20’s. When you are young, the end game is so far out, it doesn’t really factor into the decision making process at all.


Looking back is not a waste of time but looking back and wishing that things had turned out differently is … you can’t change it. Absorb it, catalog it – whatever – you just make the most out of what you have or take steps to change it.

… that and lottery tickets are only $1.00

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  • Great post, love the lottery x2.  Agree, we are pretty happy with you 🙂 

  • “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”  Satchel Paige

    Then again “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” Muhammad Ali

    • two great quotes but I prefer the latter to the former – seems more constructive.


  • “For the most part I’m pretty happy with myself” – Bob Borson
    “For the most part we’re pretty happy with Bob” – the rest of us

    Don’t look back… Keep up the good work!

  • “I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger…”

    • then you would be even smarter by the time you got to be as old as you are now

      or would you? You could probably coast a little

  • Anonymous

    Great thoughts Bob.

    For me, the two big professional decisions I made I don’t regret.

    The first one, to hang out my own shingle was great and, although the initial timing was poor (April ’80, right before we hit 16% interest rates and ALL building stopped), the whole ride’s been fantastic.

    The second professional decision was made in the summer of ’99. Over the course of the 19 year span since going self employed we (partners and I), built the firm up and at one point had 16 emplyees including six architects. But I decided I was spending too much time working and not enough time doing other stuff. I didn’t want to get to 80 and think “Gee, I wished I’d spent more time having fun”. Not that architecture isn’t fun but I hope my drift is understood.  So I cut back and have worked part time out of my house ever since.

    I recently read in another thread that one regret dying people have is that they spent too much time working. I didn’t want to have that regret. I still work but have been able to do a bunch of other stuff, some of which I probably won’t be able to do at 80 if I even get there.


    • I would be quite happy to find myself in a position to make that decision. I really enjoy what I do and don’t feel like I spend an excessive amount of time working (as long as you don’t consider writing this blog as work) – all the same, I would like a 4 day work week so I could explore other pursuits.

      Thanks for the inspiration Doug!

  • Great post. As far as my profession goes, I love it more than I ever did-it involves all the senses, smart/cool people to know (present company-you-included) and the very cool combination of analytics + creativity which is the real draw for me. I love using both parts of my so-called brain. Otherwise, if I could have 3 professions at once, I’d still be a kitchen designer but I’d also be a photographer (had my own darkroom back in the day) and a psychologist. YOU know how much psychology there is in new construction/remodeling! Fascinating! Great that you’re still an architect!

    • that is one of the major draws to being a designer that gets things built – using both sides of your brain. I think that’s why so many of us (including those that are hurting) would still choose to do it all over again.

      Thanks for commenting Susan – I appreciate it

  • Bob – great article – I am with you, I wouldn’t change much.  My one regret has to do with my education.  I would have still attended architecture school, but instead of settling for my BS-Arch degree and thinking I’d go back later and get the full thing, I should have gone all the way through for my masters in one shot.  I did eventually get my M-Arch, but I now have triple the student loan debt that I would have had I done it back then… 

    • ooof – that is tough. I remember the day we finished off my wife’s student loans, that was a good day.

  • Todd Vendituoli

    Ah yes. Apple stock. Never going to amount to anything. Had their day and its gone. Yup remember saying all that and more.

    • you and hundred’s of thousands of other people …

  • Apple stock instead of an Apple Computer.