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
(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 should be doing? I tend to 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 for those times when you find yourself in a similar position. As you get older, you think more about the motivations behind the decisions rather than the decisions themselves. When you are young, the end game is so far out, it doesn’t really factor into the decision-making process at all – at least I didn’t think about the end game when I was younger.
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 – just make the most out of what you have or take steps to change it.
… that and lottery tickets are only $1.00