Why Do We Regret Decisions Taken In The Past?
June 26, 2020
It was the last week of Feb 2020. I had an investment that was up 14% Year to date. I was feeling good. News about the spread of Covid-19 was just about escalating. Should I sell the investment, book profits and sit on cash? I spoke with a few industry experts, and they felt the world was overreacting. I agreed with them and decided not to do anything knee jerk. Ten days later, the markets globally were awash in red, and I found my investment down 20%.
I started beating myself-“How could I be so stupid”. ” What was I thinking. The whole world was saying Covid19, and I did not take it seriously” “I should not have entered the markets.”
What had happened? Why did I berate myself and get into an emotional tailspin? Why is that, with the benefit of hindsight, everything looked like a wrong decision?
We often analyze a decision we take in the past, as wrong, based on the knowledge and intelligence we have today. When we examine all past decisions from the perch of our present knowledge, intelligence, and maturity, everything looks terrible. We then beat ourselves up and start feeling vulnerable. And once vulnerability creeps in, It is a downward spiral from thereon. We become indecisive and fearful. We freeze in our ability to make confident decisions.
When I had the choice of holding or selling my investment, I did not have the experience of a pandemic, nor did I have the vision to understand how bad it could get. Therefore I took a decision based on the maturity and knowledge I had in February, to not sell. However, in March, after the markets had tanked, I was analyzing that decision with the understanding of Pandemic and how bad it had become.
How do we prevent ourselves from falling into this trap? We need to learn to draw a line to our past, and we should stop analyzing yesterday’s decisions, with today’s maturity. We should be future based. What’s done is done. With what we have learned, what is the choice we must make to rectify whatever has gone wrong. That is what matters.
We are all artists who are sketching our own destiny on the canvas of life. When you make any mistake, it is as if a brush stroke went awry. Only you know that its a brushstroke gone wrong. And as an artist, you have the power to rectify the wrong stroke with a counterstroke. The new stroke you take is like the new decision you take today. All that matters is that you take the corrective stroke today with confidence.