I can't believe the New Year is almost three months old. It seems like just a few weeks ago the stress and uncertainty of 2017 had been boxed up and safely put in my attic (if only). Receipts were bundled and stored away, this year's budget is holding up (so far).
It is a human tendency to want to have a clean break, a new beginning, a way to look ahead instead of behind. January 1st serves that purpose for many. Since we cannot do anything about our past except learn from it, focusing on today and what may lie ahead is the only logical choice.
But, too quickly, it seems we are back into our normal routine. I spend time worrying about mistakes I have made, opportunities I have missed, or people I have hurt or neglected. I read the news and am constantly irritated. I fret over Betty's health though she has been managing everything well for the last 40 years.
At times, don't we wish there was a way to revise our history, to fix something we broke? Wouldn't it be great if we could store all of the negative parts of our past as easily as we box up old papers and tax forms?
Maybe the answer is to take to heart in the question posed by the title of this post: Will all of this matter a few years from now? If the past is, well, past, how do we leave it there? How do we chalk up the past months and years to just part of our life journey and not make it more powerful than it need be?
This seems especially important during retirement. We should be focusing on what we can affect, right now. Wasting time and energy on what is in our rear view mirror is counterproductive. 90% of our worry about the future won't happen. For that remaining 10% there isn't much we can do about it now anyway except make plans and realize they'll probably need revision.
I found an article on Huffpost from several years ago that is an excellent summary of my point. The author, Shelby Doherty, wrote the following:
"Someday in the future we are all going to end up exactly where we are supposed to be. So why stress about how we get there?"
"Think about how far you have come and everything that you are so fortunate to have, you will realize that no matter how far away your hopes and dreams may seem, where you’re at right now is the perfect place to begin."
I know this is hard. As humans, we believe our lives are a fragile mix of fate, divine intervention, or the flip of a coin, so all our actions have consequences, all our thoughts are worth having. We attempt to enforce our will on a universe that has bigger things to accomplish.
The reality is quite elemental: the only thing we can definitely affect is right where we are with our attitude, focus, and choices we make in this moment. Yes, we should apologize to those we hurt in the past and learn from our bad choices. Yes, we should plan for the future and do what we think is best to prepare.
But, the only thing that we absolutely affect is the now. Excessive worry about what lies in the future is wasted energy. Will it all matter a few years from now?
We don't know.