Time has a peculiar way of eluding our grasp, leaving us with hindsight that frequently resembles a treasure trove of lessons rather than regrets.
Life is a journey filled with lessons and experiences, and hindsight is often beneficial. Looking back and reflecting on the last two decades, it’s astounding to see how much life has changed and how much wisdom we’ve gained along the way.
One may also realise that there are numerous things you wish you had known or understood at that time, which, if known two decades ago, could have made a significant difference in your life.
While we cannot turn back the clock, we can certainly reflect on the things we wish we knew two decades ago, hoping these insights will guide us as we navigate the future.
1. The Concept of Change and the Value of Time
Two decades ago, you may have been apprehensive about change and its accompanying effects. However, with time, you come to realise that change is constant. Embracing change and recognising the significance of time will lead to growth, innovation, and new opportunities.
Time is a finite resource, and as it passes, you will increasingly appreciate its value, understanding that effective time management is crucial for achieving your goals and maintaining a sense of balance in life.
2. Striking the Balance Between Fantasy and Reality
The comprehension and realization of life’s fragility and impermanence were not as profound and fundamental as they are now. This shallow realisation influenced the choices and priorities in our interactions with people and the actions we took. Understanding the demarcation between fantasy and reality concerning life and our relationships with others can help us attain the much-needed balance.
The concept of achieving equilibrium in all aspects of our lives, including work, school, and family profoundly impacts our effectiveness both in the public and personal spheres. Some of us failed to strike a balance between work and family life, neglecting to take necessary breaks and thus risking burnout.
These imbalances could have been detrimental to our overall well-being and happiness. Achieving balance is crucial, whether it pertains to managing work and personal life, reconciling ambition with contentment, or finding the right equilibrium between taking risks and exercising prudence.
3. The Significance of Relationships
As we grow older, the value of relationships becomes increasingly evident. Nurturing friendships, maintaining family ties, and building a support network are vital for emotional and mental well-being. Recognising this importance earlier could have led to more robust and meaningful connections. Some individuals traverse life in social solitude only to later realise what they missed.
4. The Importance of Health
Many people today suffer from terminal illnesses and disability because of poor lifestyle choices. Many have sacrificed their healthy adult lives for the fleeting, unhealthy, youthful lifestyle. You may have taken your health for granted, but as time passes, you realise it is of great importance.
Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and a healthy lifestyle are essential for long-term well-being. You wish you had established these habits earlier to enjoy a healthier, more active life today.
5. Lessons Learned From Mistakes
Mistakes are valuable lessons, but sometimes, mistakes are poorly handled; hence, the vital lessons meant to be learned are missed.
Looking back, one would have been better positioned if lessons were learned from our mistakes. Gleaning from the past and others, we will understand from experience that mistakes are to be embraced as they fuel personal and professional growth.
6. Understanding What True Wealth Is
While money is essential, it isn’t everything. It cannot buy happiness. One may have wasted a significant amount of time and energy admiring people with great material possessions or pursuing careers that seemed successful, even when their true passion didn’t lie in that field of study.
We have undertaken actions without experiencing absolute satisfaction, driven solely by the pursuit of money. We sometimes associate with the wrong people, believing it would provide an easy path to acquiring wealth and material possessions. However, the profound realisation that comes later is that genuine wealth is discovered through meaningful experiences, relationships, and personal growth.
7. The Power of Saving and Investing
Understanding the principles of saving and investing is something that many wish they had known two decades ago. Time is a valuable asset in the world of finance. Learning to manage your money and invest wisely can set you on the path to financial security and independence. Many have missed this opportunity and are now working for others to secure their financial future.
8. Self-Acceptance and Self-Worth
One may have struggled with self-doubt and insecurity but later realised that self-acceptance and self-love are crucial for a fulfilling life. Embracing your strengths and weaknesses makes you more confident and content.
The lack of self-acceptance and self-worth has dragged people to make a shipwreck of their lives and end up not exploring their potential. They would have been more productive and successful if they had known that decades ago.
9. The Pursuit of Passion Over Prestige
You may have been focused on pursuing a high-paying job or a promising career, but now, you realise that pursuing your passions and engaging in what you love is more fulfilling and often leads to greater success in the long run.
When you appreciate life and your abilities, your perspective on life is transformed tremendously. Expressing gratitude for what you have, instead of fixating on what you lack, can result in increased happiness and a more positive outlook. This is a lesson many wish they had learned earlier.
10. Legacy and Impact
Two decades of experience have led me to contemplate the significance of the legacy I would like to leave behind. In earlier years, I lived in the moment, finding contentment as days transitioned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. Yet, it would have been more gratifying to have established a lasting legacy, to leave a mark on the corner of my existence, and to create an impact that would extend beyond my time.
Reflecting on the influence I could have had on the world, whether through my actions, relationships, or contributions to society, I now realise how far I may have gone had I started many years ago.
Reflecting on the past two decades is more than just nostalgia; it presents an opportunity to reassess priorities, make conscious choices, and continue our journey with newfound wisdom and insight. The past acts as a teacher, and hindsight provides a distinctive perspective on life.
When we look back, we often find ourselves wishing we had known or understood things better earlier. Although we can’t alter the past, we can harness these insights to guide our present and shape our future. Ultimately, the wisdom and experience acquired over the years are invaluable for forging a brighter future.
Researched by Olukotun Joan