It’s all too easy to look back with regret at the choices you’ve made when it’s too late to do anything about them. But that doesn’t mean you should never consider the path you’re on.  

Scanning the many bookshelves in my home for a particular title, I was struck by a realization. Two, actually. First, it really is impressive how many books I’ve read in my life. I only have a fraction of them but I still have hundreds, maybe thousands.  

Then I realized that my reading really fell off a cliff once I started writing. The implications of that hit me like a brick to the head. What the hell have I done to my brain, depriving it of literature these past 10 years? I wondered, almost starting to panic.

I told myself not to freak out – life is long, we go through phases, there’s a time to read and a time to write, yada yada – and just as quickly the panic subsided. I resumed my search. Never did find that book. [sigh]

While it’s not in my nature to look over my shoulder and question past decisions – after all, you can’t change the past – there’s certainly nothing wrong with the occasional pause to consider whether the path you’re on still makes sense. There’s a big difference, you know?

As you get older you become aware of time moving faster. At least that’s what I’ve observed. So it becomes even more important to stop and consider what you’re doing from time to time. That’s how to avoid regret down the road – a major cause of depression in the elderly. Besides just being old and wrinkly, that is.

It’s true that past decisions – whether they’re mistakes or not – have a funny way of catching up with you. Besides periodically taking stock of your situation, it’s also important to realize that hindsight is always 20-20 so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to beat yourself up about choices you made without its benefit.

One last thing. You know I always say that the only thing you really have control over to change the outcome is the decisions you make. So when you’re considering a choice, try to imagine your future self looking back. If the future you says, “That was dumb, I should have known better,” don’t do it. Smart guy, that future you.

Image credit dawolf- / Flickr