If you had your time again, what would you do differently? Hang on to those shares for a bit longer? Buy that property that didn’t seem quite cheap enough but was, in fact, an absolute bargain? Take that other job with the slightly lower salary but which would have been so much more interesting? Study something else at university? Marry that person?
It can be quite easy to get trapped into a downward spiral of self-recrimination when we catch glimpses of what might have been or of where we have taken a mis-step. It can be hard, in retrospect, to understand some of the choices we have made and, financially at least, I am sure we’ve all missed plenty of chances to make it big. When we make decisions, we try to be rational and logical but of course our hearts, habit and instinct often direct our subconscious.
Whether it is in business or in our personal lives, we generally make the decision that seems right at that time. Sometimes we know, whilst making it, that we might be heading in the wrong direction but we have to make a decision and we make what seems like the correct one. If other people are helping us make the decision, it can be harder still. Their views and needs play a part and it can be easy to let their opinions sway us – or to blame them if the decision turns out to be wrong.
It’s important to remember, however, that when we look back at the various forks and crossroads in our lives and reflect on the different paths we could have taken, the choices we made are not necessarily the wrong ones. We might dream of a different career or different relationships but in reality, would they actually suit us? If we had gone in those other directions, would we have different outcomes or – more to the point – better outcomes?
To a great extent, our personalities dictate how our choices pan out. We choose things which fit us, which appeal to us, which suit our view of ourselves. However hard we try to be different or make conscious choices in alternative directions, we can’t escape the kind of person we are. In that job or situation (or relationship), we will respond in our own way, in the same way, in the way that only we can. Furthermore, whilst other people’s lives might look amazing, that isn’t necessarily the case, not only for those other people but most likely also for us. We might think we would like to live differently but, in the end, we will inevitably revert to type and when that happens, the further you are from your genuine self, the more difficult it will be.