A few weeks ago I sold a car.
I’ve never sold anything worth more than a couple of dollars before, so the experience was actually a little bit intimidating.
To get the car ready to sell we needed to bring it to a shop for a safety check, and then address any issues that came from that (thankfully there’s weren’t many). Once that was done and the car was cleaned up inside and out it was time to put it up for sale.
All that was left was the little question of price.
What was an appropriate price? Truthfully, I had no idea. So it was time to do some research. I looked up other ads for the same model and year, talked to an insurance company for an estimated value, and checked a website with estimated values for cars.
I took all these numbers, factored in the condition of the car, and made a judgement call on what seemed “right”.
I posted the ad on Friday morning, hoping that the car would go within a few weeks…
…and then my phone started to ring.
I had a number of people interested in coming to take a look at it, and when I got home from work I had two people show up at my place right away. Both were interested in the car, and I ended up selling it for exactly what I asked. No bargaining, no haggling.
Pretty good, right?
In most ways, yeah. But the response also makes me think I could and probably should have charged more.
I kind of wished I could have gone back in time 24 hours and added another $500 to what I was asking. I mean, I could definitely use the money and I’m (now) pretty sure I would have got it.
Thing is, I can’t. There is no rewind button.
Pricing the car was based on a decision that seemed like the right one at the time. And that was all I could do.
That’s pretty much how life goes. We are constantly making decisions, both big and small. And when we make them, they are the decisions that appeared right to us in that moment.
Maybe our choice was based on careful deliberation or maybe it was an impulsive action. Maybe we did something because we thought it was the altruistic thing to do, or maybe we were only thinking about ourselves (basically being a selfish asshole).
In some ways, our “intent” doesn’t matter as much as the result does. Was that decision actually a good one? And more importantly, if presented with the same choice in the future would we make the same decision?
Even if we later realize that the decision was a terrible one, we can’t change it. Life doesn’t come with a rewind button.
Once we’ve made choice, it’s happened – and it’s up to us to own our decisions and live with the consequences – good or bad.
In psychology, rumination is a term used to describe being:
compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solution
Generally speaking, rumination is a BAD thing. Getting caught up in would’ve, could’ve, should’ve and what if? can trap you in the past. Sometimes people spend so much time and energy worrying about the things they’ve done and how they should or could have done them differently that they are unable to move forward in life.
The way I see it, time spent in rumination is nothing but wasted time.
No matter how much we may wish life came with a rewind button we can’t change it. It doesn’t matter if you would do something differently with what you know now, you didn’t.
A choice we made, and now all you can do is live with the consequences.
That’s not to say the past doesn’t matter.
We are still the owners of our own decisions. So we need to own them, and be accountable for them.
This is well summed up by the late Muhammad Ali:
Learning is the key here. Life doesn’t have a rewind button. We are always moving forward, whether we like it or not.
We should always try to learn from our choices.
I’m not the same me that I was at 20.
I’m not the same me that I was at 30.
And I shouldn’t be.
Our past is important because it shapes us. And it provides considerable value if we look at what we’ve done, what was good, what was bad, and try to be better next time.
But it should never trap us.
We make choices, good and bad. But we only become trapped in our past when we refuse to use it to grow.