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What Would You Do Differently?

I came across an interesting thought experiment by Savings Ninja I just had to write about.  The idea, you’ve spent your life savings to purchase a reset of your life.  The reset sends you back to the first day of school where you get to live your life again.  The underlying question is what would you do differently.

The reason this thought experiment spoke to me is that the underlying assumption is I would like to do something different with my life.

We All Have Scars in Our Pasts 

Now, let’s start by saying I am a human being.  I have made plenty of mistakes.  Yes, I even have events in my life I wish had turned out differently.  We all do.  Some of them are painful, some of them hurt others, some of them hurt ourselves.  Who wouldn’t want to erase one of those old wounds?

But…  Here is the thing.  Despite having some scars throughout life I am actually quite happy with where my life is today.    I have a loving family.   We are financially stable.  And we do all kinds of fun things when I’m not working or writing this blog.  (As I noted to one commenter a few weeks ago, don’t assume a bloggers sole focus in life is their topic.  It’s just one area they put out there on their blog.)  There are little to no aspects of my life today I would like to change.

Does Changing the Past Change Now?

And therein lies the rub.  You can’t change the past, scars and all, and still guarantee you’ll wind up with the good life you have today.    Would I risk giving up my happiness now to eliminate scars and regrets from yesteryear? 

Don’t Dwell on the Past

No.  Quite simply I am a different person today than I was in the past.  I don’t dwell on the past, so honestly, those echoes are not a priority.   My current happiness is not worth some memory.  Wallowing in failure misses the point. 

 You know what is a priority?  Ensuring you are happy with today.  So in a way, I renounce the thought experiment but instead turn it on its head.  The question you should be asking is not what would you do differently in the past.  No, the question should be what would you change today?  What would you change about your life today to maximize your happiness?

Identify, Plan, Act

And I wouldn’t just stop at the hypothetical experiment.  Really think about it and then go do something about it.  Odds are high most things the come to mind are things you control.  If you believe you can improve your situation the probability you can improve it increases significantly.   Sure there are some things that can’t change, but inevitably there are some aspects of your life today that you can improve no matter your situation.  So why not start?

Failure is the Learning that Brings Success

Is the fear of failure holding you back?  Just remember failure is another form of learning.  The only action that ensures repeated failure is to not try.  So as we enter the end of the year here is my ask.  You should contemplate your current life.    Identify those areas of your life you’d like to change.  Sit down and map out the steps to get to your desired change and start tracking your movement towards that change today.  Only you can improve you.

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