‘If I had known’ is a phrase which many of us have said it ourselves, and have heard many others said it. It is a lamentation of the fact that we cannot predict the future, and hence unable to make the correct decision at the correct time in order to get the best results.
While none of us have the powers of fortune telling, many of us are fortunately granted with a brain and the capability to think. By logical deduction, and many times common sense, we are able to deduce what will happen to us by a certain time.
My job is a very stable yet physically demanding job. As such, even though the retirement age for other people is 65, we have to retire at 55. This was made known to us the day we joined the organisation. Recruitment does not consider people older than 35, which means that for all of us in this line, we have more than 20 years to prepare for it.
Yet I once heard of a fellow colleague who was in shock when he was informed that he had to leave the job because he was already 55. He said that all his life he has been working in this line, and now the organisation suddenly told him that he had to go, he did not know what else to do.
There was also another colleague who sold his cheaper house and upgraded to a much more expensive house at 53. The housing loan would take a few more years before he can finish paying off. He ended up begging for his superiors to grant him an extension contract of another 5 years, which was an option granted to a capable few but for which he was rejected. He was therefore very stressed and at a loss on what to do.
A third and final example, one which may be more common to others. I had a very good friend who joined the banking industry and was earning $10,000 a month at the age of 27. Yet she was saving only $500 per month and spending the rest on various things.
These are a few examples of things which we would have known long ago simply by using common sense. If the organisation tell you that you have to leave at 55 and gave you at least 20 years to prepare, you better be prepared. If you know that you will be out of job in 2 years, do not spend on a big ticket item which will take you 10 years to clear. If you are earning a lot of money at a young age, I would assume you have the brains and the capability to earn that much and would be able to think ahead on what will happen as you grow older (eg will you be too expensive to hire in the future? Will you lose your advantage which is your youth and energy?).
We may not predict an upcoming pandemic like Covid-19. We may not be able to predict if the plane we are sitting on will crash or not like in the movies. But with some effort put into thinking, making the correct decisions and preparing in advance, we are able to deduce the future to a certain accuracy and be able to welcome it with grace and anticipation, having being ready for it way in advance.
Many times we sabotage our own lives and lamented ‘if I had known’. But in actual reality, many of us ‘should have already known’. Many times all it takes is really common sense to know what will happen in the future.
Thinking is hard work. Acknowledging a not so fanciful reality takes courage. Dedicating time and energy out of your work hours for a backup plan takes sacrifice. Preparing for it little by little everyday takes persistence. Yet, it is far tougher to do nothing and be caught off-guard by something you already should have known long ago.
The consolation you have is: Often times, we do not need to put in great effort and sacrifice for it. Just a little every day and let it roll over, over the weeks, over the months, over the years. Slowly but surely, you will gradually be ready for the future.