Take charge of your health. Sign up for HealthyWomen newsletters:
Healthy Aging

If I Had to Do it Over...

By Sheryl Kraft

Share on:

With the holidays approaching, it’s inevitable to reflect inward. Actually, I don’t need that excuse – I tend toward introspection, sometimes to a fault.
When I was having dinner with my good friend Robin the other night (we’ve gotten into the habit of Monday night at the movies, preceded by a meal – kind of bordering on the early bird dinners I always make fun of. You know, the ones that the “older folk” in Florida go to at 4:30 in the afternoon?) I don’t know about you, but when a movie starts at 6:45 PM and gets out close to 9PM, the thought of going out for dinner afterwards – and probably not being served until close to 9:30 – doesn’t thrill me. I guess I AM getting old…
Anyhow, we’ve been enjoying dinners together for the past couple of weeks, since there are finally movies we actually want to see (saw “An Education” and “The Secret Lives of Pippa Lee” – highly recommend both). Robin mentioned “Pirate Radio” (which I haven’t seen) and was relaying a scene when she told me that the thing she wishes she could have done, if she could do things over, was to be a singer in a rock band. Ah, fantasy.
So, it got me thinking: what are the things I wish I had done if I got to live my life over? It brought to mind the movie, “Peggy Sue Got Married (one of my all-time faves!) where she actually did get to do things over. And guess what? She did them pretty much the same as she did the first time around, even marrying the same guy that she was divorcing in her first life.
But I’d like to think that given the chance, I’d take a really dramatic detour and do something totally different and perhaps out of character. For instance, I fantasize about living out in California and running a vineyard, or living on a sprawling ranch in farm country and raising lots of dogs. Oh, and definitely this one: living right smack on the beach so I could wake up and see/hear/smell the ocean every single day and fall asleep to its steady, gentle beat.
Okay, how about smaller, more everyday things: Here are some that come to mind:

  • I would have taken things slower, forcing myself to sit still and relax with a book when all around me there is chaos and activity. Learned to shut out the world instead of absorbing it all like a sponge.
  • I would have taken the time to learn how to fix a car when my father used to make me watch him work under the hood instead of rolling my eyes and sighing with boredom.
  • I would have stayed longer at the beach instead of worrying about getting on the road because I’d hit traffic.
  • I would have listened less to other people and listened more to my heart.

How about you? What would you do if you had to life your life over?
Happy Holidays, to all my loyal readers!


I must admit, I don't have many regrets in life, though I sometimes wonder at alternate paths. There are just so many things I'd love to try, if only I had the time! (swing dancing lessons, photo walks, hang gliding, writing a book, etc.) If only I could clone myself...

But if I did do it all over again, I'd probably end up doing things exactly as I had done them previously.

My only real regret? Living so much of my life in fear. I've always suffered from social anxiety, and started taking medication for it several years ago. I'm still nowhere near as brave as I wish I was. I wonder if life would have been different if only I'd been blessed with more self-confidence.

I don't have a lot of regrets either, because I've been blessed with a broad array of experiences and loving people. My only regret is that I did not concentrate more on my children when they were teens. At the time they were so annoying and so time consuming, just when I had one of the most interesting jobs of my life. But I needed to pay closer attention and just give them more unconditional love. Giving unconditional love was something I did not learn early enough in life.

Good question! I feel like I have plenty of time to improve (I hope) and one thing--like with your list--is slowing down and appreciating the small stuff. I wrote about that here (as you know): http://mothering.com/jennifermargulis/newborn-care/seven-weeks-old-today

I think I would have studied photography sooner, and also taken a technology class in grad school. But those are things I am doing now so...

Happy holidays to you Sheryl! Slow and happy...

My goodness! This requires much thought. I think one thing I would have done when I was younger was apply for the Iowa Writer's Workshop grad program. That is one experience I regret not having had in my life.

I wouldn't be where I am today - happy and writing - if I hadn't experienced the previous 58 years of my life. Even the times I would like to re-do (or completely erase) have brought me to this contented place.

But the biggest thing that I would change, even now, is to slow down and enjoy the moment. I've always been one to look ahead at the next event. I used to call it "wishing my life away." I think you've given me a goal for next year (I don't like New Year's resolutions).

Your first and last do-over bullets are so totally my deal, too. I'm so inspired by this that I might write my own do-over post. Looooooved it. Thanks for writing it.

This one always gets me, as the list is so long and yet, each thing I would change would in turn change other things I would never ever change. So for example, I might wish I had made a different choice in who I married (I'm divorced), yet then I wouldn't have the two daughters I have, who are truly my favorite human beings on the planet. And so it goes.
What do I wish/hope still to do?
--Stand in Ankor Wat at dawn
--Visit the Andaman Islands
--Drink coffee in Marrakesh...
You get my drift. We'll see how good a job I do of making it all happen! Thanks for some food for thought.

I'm not really sure. In some ways it has all worked out the way I wanted. In others, I wish I wasn't so hard headed to get to where I am. Why can't I choose the easy route?

As an adult, I'd have studied harder and been more focused in college (the first time). I would have focused on finances and saving money. I would have bought a house RIGHT away before the giant boom in the market.

Hmm.. I guess it's not so hard to think of what I'd do differently. ;)

Wow, that is a loaded question. There are things along my life I could have done differently or better, for sure.

But considering I am here: living abroad; married very happily for 20yrs with the perfect daughter (yeah, right, she's 14yrs old, so that may change any miniute); doing a job I love (although I could do with a few more commissions, please?!), and I am spending my time and money on travelling and eating out.

Would I live this life if I had taken a different route somewhere on the way? Probably not, so here's to no regrets and no do-overs!

Wow, I think you and I are from a similar vein. I could easily have written this post - funny!

"Learned to shut out the world instead of absorbing it all like a sponge."

When you learn how to do this, PLEASE SHARE. ;)


Add new comment