Sometimes our on-the-job-training takes place when we least expect it. I am a huge subscriber to LifeCareer theory (Miller-Tiedeman, 1997) with the premise being that life qualifies as a career. The lessons that you learn along the way, the places that you end up, the plans that develop and change (and change again) over time are all a part of the career that we have made for ourselves called life.
I don’t know about you, but I have found that regardless of how prepared I think that I am or how many plans I have made for myself, somehow things never quite work out the way that I anticipate. This is not good or bad; it just is. Life is unexpected, life doesn’t care what you want or how you feel, and life doesn’t wait for you to catch up. You will make the choices that are necessary to make and you will use all of the experiences and knowledge that you have at that particular point in time as a guide.
Looking back upon your life, you may question your decisions or your may wonder what may have happened if you took the alternate route. Here's the deal: there is no way to answer any of those "what if" questions. All you can do is accept the outcomes of your decisions for what they are- outcomes. If that idea seems too zen to follow, I suggest the following tip:
Reflect, reflect, reflect, and then reflect some more. Every time that you decide on a course of action, think about why you made that specific choice and what factors came into play when making your decision AND WRITE THEM DOWN. When you are overly judging yourself, it is easy to forget the feelings, thoughts, and impact on others that were taken into consideration when making your final decision. A quick glance at your notes will quickly remind you of your frame of mind at the time that decision was made. You may then pat yourself on the back OR cut yourself some slack when you realize that most of the decisions that you make in your life are not made on a whim.
Life is not perfect and neither are you. You will do what you have to do to get by and most likely you will be ok in the end. Learn from your mistakes and don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that life is a career in itself.