Monday, May 21, 2012

What If?

What if? I constantly catch myself thinking these two words. What if I had finished law school? What if I had a different job? What if I had more money? What if I lived somewhere else? What if I had done things differently in college? What if I had stuck with a past job? What if I hadn't bought this house? What if I had been offered the job in St. Thomas? What if I did more? What if, what if, what if? All of our "what if" questions fall in to two categories, things we can change and those we can not.

If you are thinking about the past and wondering what if, stop. You can't change the past and there is no reason to think about it. The decisions you made have led you to this point in life. As with everyone, there is good and there is bad. You will never know what would have happened if you took another path, so thinking about it is of little use. Yes, things might be better or they might be worse. You could have more money, but you would have missed out on meeting the people and doing the things you did on this path.

You may think life would have been better, but you just don't know. Any other path is no longer there. Yes, you can go back and do things you didn't do, but this would only start a new path, not pick up from where you left off. You may argue these are only daydreams and they don't matter, but many look back on these decisions with regret. The thoughts bring us down and keep us from focusing on the things we can still change. Think about all the good things that have happened since then and remember these wouldn't have happened in the same way on a different path.

The questions about things we can change are different. These can be good and they can lead us towards new dreams and goals. What if you had a different job? Would you be happier? Would you feel more fulfilled? What would you want to do? These questions can help lead us to make life-changing decisions and the answers can drastically change our path in life. These are the questions we should be asking ourselves every day. These are the important questions.

Too many of us spend all of our time thinking about what would have happened in the past and ignore the questions about the present. We think our life would have been better if (insert whatever your if is) and blame what we have now on that if. Instead of thinking about the better job if law school had been finished, focus on finding the job you want. If that means going back and finishing that degree, then do it. If that means taking a chance on something else, then do it. Too much of our time is spent thinking about what we have no control over instead of taking control and doing what needs to be done. We wish we had something different, but instead of actually doing something about it, we blame the decisions in the past. We take the easy way out, throw up our hands and say we have no control over it.

Stop doing this. If you wonder, wonder about something you have control over. Try something new. Find a new job. Sell the house and move to another state. Travel. Take a chance. Do what moves you. Find what you want and grab hold. Stop letting decisions you made in the past haunt you today. When you catch yourself thinking "what if", make damn sure you are wondering about something you can change. If you want to, change it. We have a finite amount of time to do everything we want to do, don't let anything stand in your way.

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