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The Peril of Second-Guessing Decisions

If you follow us on Twitter, you may have noticed that this week has been a massive cluster of travel delays for me. A lengthy diversion one day, a string of cancelled flights the next. In all, I was booked on eight different flights, only three of which went mostly as planned, and I got home 26 hours after I had planned. I will spare you all the boring details, but there’s one part of it that provides a good reminder that applies just as well to travel as it does to finances and life.

Today: the peril of second-guessing your decisions, and why it’s better to look forward than back.

 

OurNextLife.com // The Peril of Second-Guessing Decisions in Finances, Life and Travel -- Early Retirement and Financial Independence Blog

Making the Call

After my work meetings had wrapped up, and I was about to head to the airport to go home, I got a notice that my first flight was delayed, meaning I wouldn’t make my connection, and I’d be stuck in that hub city overnight. I quickly called the airline to discuss options, and decided to switch to a different flight out of a different airport in the region so that I’d at least spend the night in a hub city that offers more flights to my home airport, putting me home earlier the next day. That meant a mad dash and an long, expensive taxi ride to the alternate airport, a few hours of uncertainty, and eventually a cancelled flight. I ended up spending the night in some bland suburban hotel in the eastern half of the country, and not making it to the western half hub I intended to overnight in. I eventually got home the next day (actually very late the next night), so not a big deal in the scheme of things.

Except.

It turns out that if I had stayed with my original itinerary, I would have gotten home the same day. My first leg was still delayed in the end, but my original connecting flight ended up being delayed too. I could have made it. But I was off at a different airport, not able to hop on that flight, and so I lost a day at home in the name of bad luck.

Feeling the Blame

If I had stuck with my original itinerary and not made it home, I wouldn’t have felt that that was “my fault,” even if other possible flight options would have gotten me home. I would have happily blamed the weather and the airline like everyone does for travel delays. But because I actively took action and switched to a different flight — meaning an affirmative decision instead of a passive non-decision — it felt like I did the wrong thing. I became seemingly culpable.

But really, it was just dumb luck. The airport I switched to ended up being right under a massive thunderstorm system, but it just as easily could have moved in over the original airport. It was no better than a dice roll, but because I made that choice to switch, I sat in my bland hotel room and kicked myself for making what felt like a bad decision.

Recognizing the Difference Between Luck and Skill

I’m pretty good at travel. I do it a lot, and I know how things work. I know that getting stuck at a non-hub airport is an unfortunate thing, because you have way fewer flight options to choose from, and I know which airports have the most flights that will get me home. All of that means that, in any given situation, I know my odds, and I play the odds to try to get the best outcome. Most of the time, that approach works — I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever been stranded overnight somewhere. But it’s still ultimately luck whether the flights fly as planned.

Mr. ONL would use a poker analogy to describe the same circumstances. You can know all the odds, know how many outs there are, but it’s ultimately luck which cards you get. Knowing how it works, knowing how to read opponents’ tells — these things help you make decisions with the best odds, but even the most skilled player can still get beat by a rookie on a hot streak.

Some travelers and gamblers may fool themselves into thinking they’ve mastered it all and they’re in control, but they are kidding themselves.

The Illusion of Control — Especially in Finances

The same thing is true in finances, especially when the markets are involved: there is an element of skill and knowledge involved (for example, knowing not to buy high and sell low, or having a general strategy like investing in index funds or dividend stocks), but there is a whole heckuva lot of luck. The timing of when you retire relative to the markets can make a big difference in whether all your hard-earned planning succeeds in the end. People who do everything right and follow all the best advice can still end up losing money. And plenty of people have made money off nothing more than dumb luck.

Even things that seem fully within our control, like how much we save, aren’t entirely. We may be able to save X amount, but that’s because we have a job, and that’s not fully within our control either. An employer could hit a rough patch and lay us off. Even if we owned the company, the ability to make money would be hugely impacted by the overall economy and whether customers have money to spend on what we offer. CEOs get ousted by capricious boards of directors all the time. What we earn and save both have a massive element of luck, just like investing in the markets.Of course we want to control all of it. That makes total sense! It’s a deeply uncomfortable position to be in so much of the time, to know that we don’t completely control our own destiny. It’s why we create things like emergency funds and retirement planning spreadsheets with many different rate scenarios, to try to account for that uncertainty. But then we continue talking about our financial plans as though they’re totally up to us, even though they’re not. The best we can do — just as with travel — is to make the best decisions given the information we have, and to give ourselves the best odds of success, and then leave the rest up to chance.

It’s Skill When We’re Right, Luck When We’re Wrong

One of the psychological biases that we definitely fall into sometimes is this belief that it was all our own skill and good decision-making if something goes well, but that it was just bad luck if it doesn’t. Obviously it can’t be both, but we want to pat ourselves on the back for making good choices, while applying a completely different set of logic that says it was out of our hands if things don’t go our way. Logically, it makes no sense, but I know we’re not alone in thinking this way.

Cutting Yourself Some Slack

Of course the flipside also happens, when we blame ourselves for making the wrong choice when it was really all just luck, like my flight snafu that kept me away from home an extra day. Or, as we’ve heard other bloggers lament, when an investment goes bad, we get bad financial advice, or we get a late start on the path toward financial security — all of these things have a heavy dose of chance involved, and yet they’re easy things to blame ourselves for.

But what if instead of blaming ourselves, we cut ourselves some slack? Or we go even farther and recognize the role that chance played in all of it, and acknowledge that a lot of what happened was entirely out of our hands? It may not feel comfortable to feel like we’re letting go of control, but it’s actually super empowering to acknowledge that we never really had all that control in the first place.

Looking Forward, Not Backward

In the end, I kicked myself for missing that flight, and then I moved on. I enjoyed the free cable TV in my hotel room the night I’d planned to be home, I indulged in my first-ever mall walk the next morning (it was soooo hot out and there was a big suburban mall right there), and I made the best of it. Just as when some of our pre-index fund days investments lost money — we don’t sweat that stuff anymore. What’s done is done, and beating ourselves up about our choices would accomplish exactly nothing. Instead, we figure out what we can learn from it (in the case of travel: no lesson to be learned, it was all luck; with investing: don’t pick individual stocks), and we move forward with a heavy dose of humility about how much of our success is out of our hands.

If we spend our time looking backward, we’re ultimately wasting time and energy lamenting what amounts to essentially a coin flip, something we could never control under any circumstances. But by looking forward, we can acknowledge the bits we can’t control and focus on putting ourselves in the best position to thrive given the odds.

Share Your Thoughts

Do you tend to second-guess yourself a lot, or are you more of a “Moving on!” type? Have you realized that something you often lamented was actually chance and never in your control in the first place? Any tales of travel woe you’d care to get off your chest? Spill it all in the comments!

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57 thoughts on “The Peril of Second-Guessing Decisions

  1. It makes total (illogical) sense! Like how we attribute our success to skill and other peoples success to luck (there’s probably an official name for this bias).

    It doesn’t mesh well with PF’s bootstrapping ra ra mentality but soooo much in our financial lives is beyond our control. Luck and circumstance play a major role when it comes to money matters.

    Been following your travel woes on Twitter – sympathies! What a trooper

    1. Haha — gotta love that illogical logic! :-) I’m sure there IS a name for this bias, and I bet Maggie @ Northern Expenditure could tell us what it’s called. And that bootstrap mentality is one of our biggest pet peeves — it ignores the huge role of privilege and of luck, and overstates our own control in all of it. Thanks for the travel sympathies! It’s good to be home at last. :-)

  2. Hi , I definitely understand the need to let go and accept that with my pension pot I have no real influence over it other than the degree of risk I tell the investor I am prepared to accept. The degree it succeeds does however decide whether I can completely get out of the rat race at 55 (48 now) . I have made a step towards this goal by dropping out of the 5 day a week job and taking a 3 day one :-) , this will give me time to explore other options and revenue streams.

    1. Yeah, I would imagine you have to accept a fair amount of uncertainty with a pension, since you can’t control anything about it! That’s so fantastic that you have cut back your work schedule! I am sure that having more breathing room in your life is positive on so many levels, and is giving you a lot more perspective on how you want to use your time!

      1. Although the government changes in the UK personal pension rules mean that now it’s a self managed pot that you can draw an income or cash off when and however you like , so much more control.

  3. When starting toward FIRE I became a big fan of the work of Todd Tresidder at Financial Mentor. He writes about the concept of positive expectancy vs. negative expectancy decisions based on the likelihood of an outcome and factoring in the consequences of a wrong decision. In your case, you made a positive expectancy decision but truly had bad luck. Playing the odds you would have probably been better off with your decision 8-9/10 times. This just wasn’t one. Over time, if you keep making the same decision you will eventually have more good than bad outcomes.

    Bringing it back to finance and FIRE, I think this type of decision making process is what is leading us to change our FIRE visions to incorporate some work. The 4% rule tells us that retiring is likely to be successful, but we also have to factor in the consequences of failure. If this is one of the rare times it doesn’t work out due to unfavorable current market conditions, are you ok with the consequences? We decided not.

    1. I love that way of framing it. And totally agree — it was still the best choice given the odds, and it’s the choice I’d make again in the same situation. It just didn’t go my way this one time. But the fact that it is so rare for me to get stuck overnight somewhere, despite traveling all the time, means that I’m generally making good choices on these things. :-) And yeah, we’re thinking similarly about work in ER — odds are good that we’ll be completely fine without work, but failure is still a remote possibility, and that doesn’t sit well with us!

  4. I had a conversation with my boss a couple of months after I started my job. We were in his car, driving back from a company event, and discussing the different bosses we’ve had. I mentioned that I’ve been really, really lucky – the people I’ve worked for have all been great people, and each of them has contributed towards my career growth. He said that I’m not giving myself enough credit, it’s more than luck – “It has more to do with YOU than you think.”

    What’s that saying… The harder I work, the luckier I get? But I’m not 100% sold on this – sometimes folks just get dealt the $hit hand, as Mr. ONL points out.

    But there is always an element of both. I think you made the right choice in your travel scenario just by being an active participant. Sure, in this ONE case, you missed a flight, but how many wins have you had just by being pro-active?

    That goes beyond flights. Think about how becoming pro-active in your career, your finances, and your relationships has helped you!

    1. We are total believers that some people create more luck by working hard, staying focused, being open to opportunities, etc. And we’d definitely still argue for putting yourself in the best position to take advantage of the odds, so you and I are saying the same thing. BUT, sometimes you are just unlikely despite all that (which sounds like it doesn’t apply to your situation at work and with bosses!), and that’s when we’d say second-guessing gets you nowhere. And yeah, totally agree re: my flights. If I had the same choice to make again, I’d still make the same one. It didn’t go my way this time, but most of the time it would have.

  5. I’ve been thinking and writing about this very topic lately. Second-guessing and self-doubt have often plagued me to the point of paralysis; I don’t want to make a decision for fear of making the wrong one and living with regret. I’d like to believe I’m improving in this arena as I get older. I recently decided to leave my teaching job to stay home with our kids for a few years. While it’s exciting to me to have the freedom to so this, I’ve still experienced a lot of “What have I done?” moments. When my kids are acting up, I wonder how I’m going to manage them all day. When we talk of our early retirement goals, I have pangs of regret over my missing salary. For me, the one thing that gave/gives me confidence in this decision is the belief that being more involved in my kids’ lives while they’re young is something I’ll never regret. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! It’s great to focus on making the best decisions you can with what you know, and not dwelling on what you can’t control. Oh, and glad you made it home and made the best of it all!

    1. Fellow teacher (and mom) here! I think that is one of the hardest decisions we ever have to make. I ended up doing the opposite. I worked when they were little (still had summers) and now I reached FI and have left full-time teaching 5 years before my pension hits. Same “pangs” somedays – but home when they are still here in their late teens. Glad you get to be with your kids – they grow up way too fast.

      1. Gosh, all of this stuff is outside of our experience since we don’t have kids, but it does seem SO hard to decide! I’m positive I would second-guess this kind of major life decision!

    2. I feel completely confident that you will never regret having this time with your kids! I’m sure day-to-day it can be hard to see the big picture, but this time in your kids’ lives is so precious, and you’ll always be glad you were there for it. :-) But I definitely understand that you wonder what you’ve done and if this will be the best choice long-term. Just try not to beat yourself up over it! :-) And thanks for the nice note — I’m super glad to be home, too!

  6. I think there’s a difference between second-guessing and reflection. Second-guessing isn’t productive – it gets you in “rewind mode” or in a cycle of “what if’s” and what good does that do you? It sounds like you are much more of a reflective person and that is productive. Thinking about what happened (not over-analyzing hopefully!) and considering decisions we make is incredibly important in being able to “move on”. If you just move forward all the time without reflection, there is little growth. This is something we work on a lot with student teachers. “Don’t beat yourself up over a bad lesson (bad decisions made during a lesson), think about what you did and try something new next time.” Ties in with solution-focused thinking too!

    1. Total agreement, Vicki! Reflection is important, and especially in settings where things are in our own control, it’s super helpful to figure out what we can learn from what happened. I was thinking here mostly about things that are heavily influenced by chance, and then that second-guessing is entirely pointless. :-) But you know I’m all about reflecting and learning and growing!

  7. Yikes! Mr.Hodgepodge had very similar travel woes this week as well. But he said it made for some good laughs with his consultant friends! :)

    I am most definitely a second guesser, if it were a sport in the Olpympics I would surely get a gold medal. Something I’m working on, but realizing more and more it’s better to move forward instead of constant fretting.

    1. Maybe we were in the same area! And oh yeah, tons of laughs from it for sure! :-) I just wrote this to Accidental Retirees, but maybe you can work toward kicking yourself once over something, and then letting it go. That way you still indulge that urge to second-guess for a moment, but you don’t dwell on it. :-)

  8. Definitely a major character flaw of mine! Why didn’t I (fill in the blank)? Regardless of whatever the issue is, from remembering to bring a coupon from home before we decided to stop by the grocery store, to filling up the gas tank where it was two cents cheaper, to buying that Disney stock for the grandkids twenty bucks a share ago, I am the queen of shoulda, coulda, woulda. I have been really focusing on putting some serious effort into accepting what is instead of what might have been, but it’s a skill I haven’t developed. I don’t like wasting precious time on regrets and I’m well aware of what a futile exercise that process is, but it seems to be a learned response (or just a plain old habit) by this time in my life, and one I struggle mightily with. Similar to worry, it’s non-productive, futile and exhausting to replay every decision, large or small, and armchair quarterback your way through life. That knowledge, however, doesn’t stop me from doing it, although I’d like to think I’ve become gentler on myself in retirement since I no longer second guess the myriad of work related decisions I used to beat myself up over. Come to think of it, I have made some real progress in this area, but there’s a long way to go. Great topic, though! Thank you for the brain food for me to reflect on this glorious Wednesday.

    1. I’m laughing because the last thing I want you to do is beat yourself up over beating yourself up! LOL. But I’m glad to know you’re making progress. What if, instead of lingering on whatever it is you wish you hadn’t done, you indulge in one kick, and then let it go. Like when I switched airports and it didn’t work out, I had a “Bad me!” moment, and then moved on and didn’t let it bug me. Lots of people wouldn’t even kick themselves at all, and would just calmly shrug, but I think that little kick might be a good transitional place to get, and from there gradually work to let stuff go entirely. :-)

  9. I almost never second-guess myself – not because I arrogantly believe that I always make the right decisions, but because I understand that every decision that I do make was made with the information at hand at the time. Sometimes those decisions turn out in my favor, but other times, they don’t. It’s life. Like you said, it’s entirely unhelpful to dwell on some circumstance because it didn’t turn out exactly as we wanted – whether or not we had full control over it.

    Regarding luck vs. skill, I do firmly believe that we cannot control everything that happens TO us, but we very, very (VERY!) often can control how we REACT. I remember reading the book “Seven habits of highly successful people”, and one of their landmark topics was about this very phenomenon. Bad stuff happens. We can’t always control that bad stuff. But, those of us who take a proactive approach to working through life’s circumstances and making the best of everything, like you guys definitely do, tend to have a much greater likelihood of finding success in our lives – even through all the unlucky stuff.

    1. You definitely don’t seem like a second-guesser, based on everything of yours that I’ve read — and I mean that in a good way! It’s easy to overthink things that are already done, and waste breath and energy bellyaching over all of it. But if it’s already done, then that’s just a waste.

      And I am in 100% agreement on controlling how we react to things! That’s a subject for a different post altogether. :-) I could have made myself miserable on this trip if I’d decided to have a bad attitude about all of it, but instead went with the “Eh, what can you do?” approach, which made it all a lot more tolerable. I knew I’d get home eventually, and didn’t make it more stressful than it had to be. (And you know we agree that you can create more luck for yourself by working hard and staying positive — also a subject for another post!) :-)

  10. I have grown into a person who learns and looks forward. I used to hold myself accountable for things outside of my control and that did nothing positive for me or my actions. Now, I try to make the best decision with the information in front of me. Sometimes I’ll be wrong, but it is done.

    1. That’s so fantastic that you’ve evolved this way in your thinking. While it can be useful to learn from the past, dwelling on it, especially on the stuff that was never in our control to begin with, is a recipe for misery. Kudos for focusing on the future and the positive!

  11. The illusion of control section is particularly interesting for us. Mrs. PIE just learned she could be facing a layoff tomorrow. Bless her, she just put up a post in real time to express some real time thoughts about two different scenarios.

    As some others have commented, it is all about working with what is thrown at you. I am a big believer in risk mitigation, it is part of my job in terms of diligence we do in the business development arena. It applies to outside work situations also. How can you mitigate risk of any scenario that could play out? Doing this can help with the looking in the rear view mirror syndrome.

    As for travel, I could tell a few crazy stories about a collaboration with an Indian company and traveling 3-4 times each year to that fascinating country over the course of a three year period. One that sticks in the memory was coming of a 14hr flight from Newark to Mumbai, which actually wasn’t my final destination in India. I got to the hotel late (whatever late means with a 10hr time diff.) , hit bed and woke up about 5 am. Got up and headed in the elevator down for an early breakfast. I did not get out of the elevator for nearly another 1.5 hrs. The power unit malfunctioned, the air con feed malfunctioned and I sweated out a significant bit of weight during what seemed like an eternity. Humid Mumbai. No air con. Stuck in an elevator. I went from simmering to boiling to pi**ed. Credit to the hotel (and it was a rather opulent one to be honest) , lots and lots of apologies and I was pampered for the next 24 hrs I was in the hotel. One of many tales of my business escapades in India. I feel a post coming on to tell the stories, just thinking back to that time. Gotta love business travel! It tests us for sure.

    1. Oh wow, fingers crossed for you guys that there is no layoff in your very immediate future! We’re *close* to the point when a layoff would be fine, assuming a generous severance package, but we’re not *quite* there. Hoping you guys can stay put until you hit your numbers!

      And WOW, that’s a doozy of a travel story! I think I would get boiling mad over that, too. I already become a huge wimp about the heat and humidity when I travel to the south in the U.S., so I’m guessing I wouldn’t do too well in India. :-)

  12. I’m so glad you eventually made it home. Also, I HATE that feeling. And it happens all the time. I pick the wrong line in the grocery store every single time. If it’s up to me to make a choice, I will inevitably choose the wrong one. But yes, I’ve gotten better about looking forward instead of back. When that B&B in England (that I reserved!) wouldn’t let us in and we had to get another hotel, I was mad, I felt guilty, I huffed a bit, but then I embraced the experience. Worst case scenario? We were out a couple hundred dollars. Worth ruining our trip? No!

    1. Yes, I finally got here! And I even get a whole night at home before leaving on my next trip! Wohoo! ;-)

      Oh, I am the WORST at always picking the slowest every kind of line, so I completely sympathize. But I’m glad that you’re beating yourself up less for stuff that’s ultimately random. And SO glad you didn’t let that B&B snafu spoil your trip.

      Speaking of England… I’m next on the list for the Cursed Child e-book from the library. So excited!!!

  13. I second guess myself all the time! Just about every decision I make, if it doesn’t work out according to plan, I will sit and beat myself up a bit over picking the wrong choice. I am trying to be more aware when I do this and just realize that things in life don’t go according to plan. In fact, the one thing you can count on is things won’t happen the way you plan them.

    Fantastic post Ms. ONL!

    1. Thanks, Thias! I’m so glad that you’re becoming more aware of your inner critic and your tendency to second-guess yourself. That’s the first step in kicking out the habit. I’m pretty sure no one looks back from their deathbed and says, “I wish I’d been tougher on myself.” ;-)

  14. I’ve come to learn that second guessing is just extra stuff my mind doesn’t need. Reflection is great because it’s more of a “Hmmm, this is how I made the dumb decision, this is what triggered me to make that decision. Mental note to self, avoid those triggers in the future.” And move on.

    Do I repeat same dumb decisions, oh yeah, you betcha! That sounds like a line out of Fargo, lol. :) I’m not perfect, I’ve just learned to let up on myself over the years. Old me/young me used to be very very critical of myself, and somewhere in the 4 yrs of talking with a therapist (yeah 4 friggin yrs) I realized I’m my worst enemy and harshest critic.

    It was a Stuart Smalley moment to realize, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, People Like me!” After that, I go easy on myself and try to just learn from it and move on with the best decisions for today’s situation.

    1. What a great evolution you’ve gone through! I do agree that age helps — over time it’s easier to see how unproductive and harmful that second-guessing and reliving of mistakes can be. I’ve definitely gotten better about this stuff over time, too. And hey, at least you needed *only* four years of therapy — haha. I remember my therapist (I did my tour in therapy, too) ;-) once saying, “If you heard someone saying all the stuff you say about yourself to your best friend, what would you do?” And of course I said, “Well I’d defend her and make sure she knew it wasn’t true!” And that helped it click for me that that self critic stuff is just completely toxic (though normal) and usually not even true. :-)

  15. I dwell way too much on actions I can’t change, something I have been working hard to get past. There’s no magic time-turner to undo mistakes, and stress loops are not productive. But it’s easier to recognize this than get away from the bad mindset.

    1. Ooh, ooh! New FIRE career: Finally inventing Hermione’s time turner! Let’s do it! :-) I totally relate to the stress loops (what a great term), and wonder if a good intermediate goal is to kick yourself once over something, and then remind yourself that you’ve already been punished and move on. Easier said than done, I know, but maybe something to strive for?

  16. Even if we owned the company, the ability to make money would be hugely impacted by the overall economy and whether customers have money to spend on what we offer.
    ~~~~~~
    Im glad you pointed this out , small business owners often work very hard for very little and are at the mercy of so many things out of their control.

    1. So true, Chris! In the PF community, we love this idea that what we earn is a direct result of how hard we hustle, but there are a lot of other factors at play, and the idea that it’s fully within our control is an illusion.

    1. I think wondering about “what-ifs” is completely healthy if it’s the future what-ifs and it’s about making your plan stronger or exploring opportunities that excite you. It’s the backward-looking what-ifs that can pull your focus to the past instead of growing in the future. But recognizing that you have that tendency is the first step toward ending that habit! :-)

  17. I’m glad you made it home & enjoyed the free cable! I can definitely beat myself up over past choices if they don’t play out as I’d planned. I think part of it stems from placing too much value on efficiency. I hate feeling like I wasted time, money, or other resources that could have been optimized if I somehow could predict the future!

    1. Haha — always love that free cable! :-) I can totally relate on hating knowing that I wasted time — especially weekend time! If I wanted to do something on the weekend and couldn’t get to it, I will definitely beat myself up over it. But that’s not about chance vs. skill but more just about needing downtime from work and letting that overrule my to do list. :-)

  18. There is one decision we are second guessing: debt freedom. A couple of the remaining student loans have low interest rates, so should we really pay these off or should we start saving for the next investment? Other than that, I try to keep in mind that Baz L. song as a reminder that our choices are half chance (and so are everyone else’s). πŸ˜€

    1. I totally understand why you’re second-guessing that, and that falls into the camp of legitimate things to question, unlike things that happen that are pure chance and not really in your control. Though whether paying off the loans or investing that money instead turns out to be a better decision in the long run IS ultimately chance. So I say do what lets you sleep best at night. I can definitely attest to the value of being debt-free and how much quality that adds to life (at least all non-mortgage debt… we can weigh in on that sometime next year). ;-)

  19. Great concept to ponder. Basically anything bad that happens to your life you can probably trace back to a decision you can blame yourself for, but at the end of the day it is not useful. It usually results in guilt or shame, which are useless states of mind to be in. It may be useful to reflect upon things if they will provide better decision making in the future, but often as you point out, it is just the luck of the draw.

    1. I know that second-guessing is totally human and normal, and we can’t always be perfect, rational beings. Sometimes we simply react emotionally, which is very much what second-guessing is all about. But I do think recognizing the difference between chance and a truly “bad decision” is important for letting go of this stuff and not dwelling! :-)

  20. I struggle with this a lot, although I think I get better as I get older (oh what difference not giving af makes!). As a student, I used to get anxious after exams because my classmates would discuss their answers and I would always worry if my answers were different: “I should’ve picked B”. When I realised what it was doing to my head, I decided I would walk away, or straight home after every test and I wouldn’t subject myself to that kind of mental torture again. These days, I try to be responsible for the decisions and choices I make and I try to remember that there is no use dwelling on the past. But, admittedly, I still feel gutted every time I buy shares and see the next day that prices have dropped. Haha! I still wallow on that regret for a few days before I move on.

    Sorry to hear about your travel mishaps! I’m glad you had a safe, although a bit uncomfortable, journey.

    P.s. I saw the ONL cards on Twitter, they look really cool!

    1. Same here — getting older makes it a lot easier not to dwell on this stuff! It sounds like you have good self-protective instincts, though, and chose to go straight home after tests rather than subject yourself to that torture. :-) I understand about stocks, though — I also think that gets easier with practice. And thanks re: the cards! It’s kinda fun to have things I can hold in my hand that have our logo on them… makes it all feel more real. :-)

  21. second guessing used to be a hobby of mine. I now know better… It is a waste of time and energy. I now live by the rule: we are where we are, what matters is the next step we take! This way, I keep more control on where I end up, rather than looking in the rear mirror to see where I should drive.

    1. I know we can’t all be perfect rational beings — sometimes we have emotional reactions, and that’s normal. But I’m glad you’ve been able to let go of that “hobby.” :-)

  22. I am glad you made it home safely :)

    Some decisions are easier for me to make than others but snap-decisions, I rarely regret. The decisions where I actually need to pro/con the situation and hem and haw until I make a decision, ugh, those are the ones where I second guess myself and wonder if I made the right decision. Why are we human-beings so complicated, lol? :)

    1. That’s so interesting, but definitely makes sense — the decisions you’re less invested in weigh on you less than the ones you really dig into. I wonder the same thing… clearly our dogs don’t belabor decisions or second-guess anything, and they seem perfectly happy! Haha.

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