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Cut the Shoulda-Woulda-Couldas

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“I could have been some rich business executive, but I wasted years of my life playing in a rock band.”

No, these are not the words of Bret Michaels. (Dude’s rich.) These bitter words are my own – from just a few days ago to be exact.

Don't regret it

If you’re not familiar with the world of freelancing, it’s one of feast or famine financially. Clients come and go at the drop of a hat and you’re out of regular cash just like that. Finding myself one client (and a couple hundred bucks a week) short last week, I uttered the aforementioned words of regret to my girlfriend. Wise women that she is, she promptly reminded me that (1) Shoulda-woulda-couldas don’t get you anywhere and (2) I’m the unique person I am for making the choices I’ve made. Needless to say, her encouraging words cheered me up and earned her a “One Hour Massage” ticket to be redeemed at any time.

Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda.

How often do you find yourself uttering one or more of these words? Do they really serve any purpose?

“I shoulda told her sooner that I liked her.” “I woulda been a great doctor/lawyer/snowboarder if I’d only tried harder.” “I coulda gone to that college, but I picked this crummy one.”

Think about it: what do you gain? These types of questions exist solely to tear you down. They’re pity party words and nothing more. Unless you’ve got a souped-up DeLorean and a suitcase full of plutonium, you’re not changing anything about your past any time soon, so stop wasting your time.

Cut it with the “If only,” stuck in the past type statements and replace them with hopeful “If” statements. Rather than saying, for example, “If only I’d studied harder, I’d be attending a better college,” how about replacing it with something positive, like “If I study hard now, I’ll get good grades and have a chance of attending the school I dream of.” Kicking yourself over your past decisions won’t get you any closer to achieving your goals. You’ll just end up kicking yourself later for kicking yourself now.

Why get down about past decisions when you can just as equally embrace them? Did you spend four years going to school as a criminal justice major and decide you now want to be a marine biologist?  (I actually know somebody who did just that.) Rather than get down about the four years you weren’t learning about dolphins or whatever, think about all you learned and how you might apply it to a future career. I’m not exactly sure how history would play a part in a job as a marine biologist, but I’m sure there’s some way you could work it. With all that history in your noggin, you at least make for a great Quizzo player.

I may not have an MBA or be a CEO, but I’m certainly not SOL. I’ve got memories no one can take away and a few CD’s (and questionable photographs) to prove it. Next time you your mind goes to shoulda, woulda or coulda, take stock of what you’ve done and what you’re going to achieve. Now if only I’d been in Poison …

About John Brhel

John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.

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