I spend significant effort to optimize and find the subtle efficiencies I can gain in my daily life, and maybe the lives of others around me. As a result, I’ve found re-evaluating past decisions to be generally a very poor use of time. There is little you can do to change the decision you made in the past, instead you should focus on what you can do moving forward to change what needs to be changed. The decision itself is set in stone, why bother thinking about the what-elses after the what.
This blog will not be optimized or efficient. I hope to review some my decisions just because. I can’t articulate the specific reasons why I feel this way, but its something I must do. I wonder if there will ever be a point in my life where I don’t feel that when looking back, I’m regularly making wrong decisions. I think part of this process occurs now because I don’t always do such a hot job of fully evaluating ideas before executing thing. I would say I have a few people I can talk (by talk I mean instant message) pretty openly about ideas and things I’m thinking about to, but most of them have some a moderate to more extreme form of bias that I’d like to avoid when seeking neutral feedback. This presidential election, while not a topic receiving much of my thought at all, is a great point. If I talk to a Republican, then McCain is the way to go. Democrats obviously feel Obama is the way to go. There are some confused people out there who are like “Arg, write in Ron Paul” but none of those are really what I was hoping to gain from discussing whatever political issues that I might have been concerned with.
I’m unsure the best way to present these ideas I’m rethinking. I could make a timeline, but that implies I’ve tried to generate an exhaustive list in chronological order.. which I haven’t. I guess I’ll just dive into this in the Order of Brian, which is an O(1) ordering routine my brain computes.
One of the larger decisions I’ve made has been the location to attend college, aka RPI. I know my identification of schools process was very poor, only reflected by the fact that I got into every school I applied to. I would be more comfortable with the process if there were school I didn’t get into because I would have a better understanding of the perceived limits of mine. I’m not quite sure why my searching list was so poor. I could probably throw some blame on the under-achieving guidance department at SHHS where I can’t say they do a great job of motivating students to try their hardest even if there is a chance of failure… A fair share could also go on my parents, who consistently underestimate my ability when it comes to just about everything. Technically there has always been the options to leave and go somewhere else, but its very hard for me to justify all the work involved if I don’t know the outcome will be any better.
I think I have a larger problem with college and the higher education system in general. I’ve found the system to be pretty decent at teaching people how to be researchers, professors, and teachers but very little when it comes to being productive in a business workplace. No, those “Professional Development” classes don’t count for anything. In the past few years I’ve applied approximately 0 skills learned in a college classroom while working and I would say the jobs I’ve had have been pretty technical in nature.
Sometimes I think about my involvements here at RPI. Not usually the binary case of being involved or not, but the gradient to which I am involved in organizations. Sometimes being involved to the extent I current am works out pretty well, but other times not so much. Its easy for me to think about what would happen if I resized this, or shifted something else around, but in an organizational group its hard to have any substantial influence on the direction of a blob. My goal has never been to single handedly try to shift the direction because that approach is pointless to me. I can see how people have single handedly directed things and as a result group participation is substandard. Instead I rely on the hope to spread my direction and help others take ownership of an individual part of a larger goal. It makes things much more fluid than say, 2 or 3 members stating the direction and assigning tasks to everyone else.
There are very few decisions I think back upon and debate their profound impact on my current life. I could see most choices effecting slight trends, but what choices have I made that have been real game changers for me? What choices have I made that have provided significant redirection in my life? I think to myself, if I changed things would I be in a more strategic location today or would I be less than I am. I don’t have the answers, which makes it very hard to learn from those choices. I think that at the time of choosing, I am comfortable with somewhere between 80% and 90% of the choices I make, but I lack a running list of uncomfortable decisions to conduct a further analysis on.
You always wonder.. well I do at least, if I had done Y differently, where would I be today. Would I be in Troy, NY? Would I be attending college seeking the degree I’m seeking? Would the economy be where it is right now? (Ok, I just had to add that last one in. I am moderately confident I hold little influence over the financial rivers.)
Alas the clock is no longer on my side. I’ve used up my allocation of rethinking time for now. My plan, as it always has been, is to press forward. Upward and onward right? I’d settle for any direction, it doesn’t have to be upward really, as long as you keep moving.
Someone famous once said something like “Even if you’re on the right track, you won’t get anywhere if you’re just standing there.”