We Cannot Change The Past, But We Can Change The Future

3565828392_5dbd6b9000_oA few days ago, I watched an episode of The Simpsons.

In that episode, called “In the Name of the Grandfather”, the Simpson family travels to Ireland so that Grampa Simpson can visit a pub where he had the best night of his life. In one scene, the pub owner is watching a  horse race and is screaming madly for one of the horses to go faster and win. When the horse loses, the pub owner takes a video tape out of the VCR and mumbles that the horse can’t win the darn race (which took place in 1979!).

I laughed. How could the horse win? The pub owner was watching a recording of a 30 year old race that the horse lost. But after laughing, I started thinking. We all think about the past. We hyper-analyze our decisions and the consequences of those decisions. We assess what would have happened if we took made different decisions. We dwell on our mistakes.

It’s both necessary and helpful to learn from mistakes. But some of us obsess about the past – just like the pub owner (I’ve certainly done that at times). And in our obsession with the past, we often lose sight of the fact that we cannot change the past. Ever.

But we can change the future. We should obsess about that instead.

image credit: fragmented


  1. I’ve been thinking/writing a lot about mastering mistakes and I think this is a fine point. Another way to word it is, focus on what’s in your control, not what’s out of your control.

    Oh, the Simpson’s.

  2. That’s absolutely right, Ryan – an important point that pretty much everyone forgets at one point or another.

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