We’ve all been there before. A decision we made which, with hindsight, was something that we would gladly change, should physicists stop playing particle marbles at CERN and really put their minds to inventing reliable time travel. It can’t be that difficult, Marty McFly was doing it in the 1980s.
Of course, such decisions could actually have been the result of inaction; the fear of failure or of change causing a paralysis of decisive thought. It just seemed easier to keep things as they are. Why take a chance?
Whether decisions seem more trivial or involve major shifts in circumstance, the mechanics behind our thought processes are essentially the same. It’s about balancing risk versus reward. The only difference between each of us and the paths we take in life are ultimately how accurately we judge that balance.
Maybe you still think about that partner you once had, the ‘one that got away’. If you’d have done things differently, who’s to say that you wouldn’t now be living in family bliss in a converted barn in the countryside? Although possibly you may actually have had a lucky escape from marital strife and a son who makes Bart Simpson look well-adjusted.
Alternatively you may look back on your younger days and wish that you had travelled more. You’ve always wanted the hassle of bringing back an impulse buy didgerdoo through customs, trying not to look guilty as they check it for concealed drugs. You know there’s nothing in there, but you feel embarrassed that you’ve fallen for such a tourist trap and if they ask you to play it, you know that you can only make farting noises at best.
How many times have you heard someone you know wishing aloud that they had studied harder at school or university? Sure, they passed the drink-a-yard-of-ale challenge in the rugby team, but that trip to hospital caused a missed exam. And how often has a colleague at work been surreptitiously scanning the recruitment ads whilst the boss is out, dismayed that he has chosen to work at such a terrible company?
Well I can identify with all of these scenarios. Having taken what I perceived to be the easy way out for much of my younger years, I reached an epiphany of sorts in my late 20s. It was then that I took the decision to attempt a career in the advertising world. And when I realised after five years that it was really not what I wanted to do, I embarked on two years of home study to update my old psychology degree.
Which leads to me on to where I am now, commencing study of an MSc in Forensic Psychology, whilst still clinging on to an income from advertising, working part-time. Many people have told me that they could never go back to studying in their 30s. It’s far too scary a thought. I responded by saying that staying in a job I hate, that offers me few challenges or variation, and in an industry with a high percentage of incompetent fools is a much greater fear to me personally.
I would much rather make sacrifices and push myself to achieve something that I can be proud of, that will ultimately fascinate me and lead to a fulfilling life. Sure, I can earn good money in advertising sales, but that’s all it is. Hell, you can earn over £40,000 driving a train, but I can’t think of anything more tedious.
Money is largely irrelevant, as long as the bills are paid. You can’t put a price on happiness and contentment. The 30s is not too old to make life changing decisions. It’s not even halfway through a working life. My goal in life is to be able to look back on my life at 70 years old, knowing that I experienced a rich, interesting and varied life. No regrets.