The only purposeful aspect of hindsight is to improve what we start doing today. It is quite easy to look back over a decade to see if we had done Plan A more efficiently, we would have ended up with a better outcome. That reflection can include all the complications of raising children, our career trajectory, dietary and exercise habits, dating and marriage choices, and our ability to hold onto a retirement estate.

Given the limited number of hours in any day, it is nearly impossible to do everything perfectly.  Successes and failures are revealed as we look at those past days. No one can escape the evidence of his or her past, any more than they can change a single minute of what was done.

Proof of this notion is the misdirected text message. In haste, I typed or dictated what I believed to be a response to a question from my friend Harry. Ignoring the “To” line, I accidentally sent it to Heidi. My communications with both of them were now off track. I cannot change what went out. I then spent five times as much work trying to straighten out the mess I had created by rushing.

Every aspect of our history is just like that misdirected text message. There’s an old saying – Italian race car drivers win more because they throw away their rearview mirror. We can learn from this concept. Turning my eyes to what lies ahead, I put my efforts into today’s actions. Beating myself up over past failures draws time and energy away from accomplishing a task that can produce a better tomorrow for myself or someone else.

One key is to change from thinking about the past to thinking about this moment in time, this today. Some call it being present. Others call it mindfulness. Retain your knowledge and wisdom but shed your worries about past events. 

Taking action is the second key. Just do something, anything that derives a positive outcome for others. You will be handsomely repaid in this world and in the next.

By Bob Bekins


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