At the start of a new year, people often make resolutions about what they’ll do differently during the next 365 days. Perhaps you, the oncology nurse, are in this place of pondering, self-examination, or you’re just reviewing the past year in general. Here’s some food for thought.

Each person is shaped by the events, encounters, and relationships occurring over the course of his or her lifetime. Thinking about doing something differently usually means learning something from past experiences and believing that a do-over would make a difference in the outcome. But this is where philosophy meets reality. There is no exact way of knowing how a do-over would change anything. An alternative outcome can only be imagined.

Consider this:

Jack stood at the crossroads: he had time to make a conscious decision about which road to take. The road to the right was overgrown and rocky. The road to the left was kept and well-traveled. What he could not know was each road had an equal variety of potholes and perils, sunshine and pleasure. He began his journey down the road of his choice, each experience leading right into another. Before he knew it, he was in a dark and scary place. “If I could do it all over. . .” His mind imagined the other road would have been different, better, less of some, more of the other. Yet he had no way of knowing what was down the other road or what lie ahead on his chosen path. The moral of the story?

Move through what is in order to embrace what is yet to come.

Every sunrise holds promise for a new opportunity. Yet it’s easy to see life as a blur of days instead of opportunities for new beginnings. If you find yourself wishing for a do-over, go ahead and think about what you would do differently so the next time you are in a similar situation—you can do different.

Happy New Year.