How To Do Life

Fresh ideas about career and personal issues

If You Got a Second Chance

A thought experiment that could point you in a direction.

Thomas Oben, CC3.0
Everyone has regrets, and per a previous post, sometimes there are ways to put them behind you. But sometimes you can’t.

Perhaps this thought experiment might wring a bit of good from your regrets. Each of the following questions addresses one of life’s major decisions. Imagine you could roll back the clock and choose differently. Would you?  Write any that you would change. I know it’s more hassle to write them than to just think about them but that will make easier the last thing I’ll ask you to do.

Would you change the way you interacted with your parents? If so, how?

Would you change the way you interacted with your sibling(s)? If so, how?

Would you attend a different school K-12?  What would it be like?

Would you attend a different college or graduate school?  What would it be like? Or would you forgo college or graduate school?

How would you do school differently? More or less diligently? Would you choose different extracurriculars? Interact differently with professors? With fellow students?

Would you have chosen any romantic partners differently? How so?

Had more or fewer children?

Would you have chosen a different career? Any idea what? For a master list of careers, check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Would you have started a business? If so, what?

Would you have made any money decisions differently: Investing? Spending versus saving? A particular purchase—for example, your house, car, or jewelry?

Would you have spoken out more or less? If more, what would you say?

Would you have changed your use of mind-altering substances? How?

Would you have been more or less honest? How so?

Would you have worked more or played more?

Would you have focused on different recreation than you have? Taken a recreation more or less seriously?

Would you have been more or less careful about weight control, smoking, etc?

Would you have dealt differently with religion or spirituality?

Do you have some other regret that you wish you could have a second chance at?

Now look at your answers. Does it suggest something you could do now?  For example, if you would have chosen to be more intellectual with your parents, should you surround yourself now with more cerebral types?  Be more intellectual with your kids? If you would have married someone more self-sufficient, should you work with your spouse to help him or her be that way? If you would have chosen a different career, is it too late to pursue it, even a simpler version as a sideline? For example, if you wished you had been a lawyer, should you be a volunteer advocate/fundraiser for a cause you believe in?

We can’t turn back the clock but we often can give ourselves a second chance.

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.

Marty Nemko is a career and personal coach based in Oakland, Ca. and the author of 7 books. 
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