I just saw the book that I was supposed to write. Except someone else got there first.

About three years ago, I was working on a self-help book about the world of work. It had a slightly different slant that I hadn’t seen in other such books and hoped my book would really connect with people. I had a hoo-hah agent and a writing partner to spur me on. I even had a publisher who showed interest. But stuff happened and I let it go for the moment. And then for the next moment. And the next.

Now I see this book that came out earlier this year and it hits on many of the very points I was making. The ones that only me and a few other people ever got to see. And this book-that-isn’t-mine even has some chapters strangely reminiscent of ones I had in my proposed Table of Contents. Now sometimes these ideas get suggested by editors or agents who have seen other proposals like mine, but sometimes the ideas are just in the air looking for people to bring them to life. And they did.

The book-that-isn’t-mine appears to be well-written in an easy-to-grasp style and has funny, interesting chapter titles. It’s put together well by people who seem to have a firm grasp on the material. So the book-that-isn’t-mine looks like it could help people. And that was what I wanted when I started anyway. Not that I didn’t have a moment or two of regret when I first saw that this book existed!

But then I reminded myself that I can’t undo what’s done. The past is the past. And of course, that also doesn’t mean I can’t still write my book. Or another one. Or a bunch of ’em. The only person who can stop me is me. What they did by writing the-book-that-isn’t-mine has nothing to do with me. It’s easy to forget that sometimes.

Thinking back, there are many good reasons why it wasn’t the right time for me to push myself to finish the book. Of course, there were just as many reasons why I could have gone ahead anyway and let things fall as they may. That would have been fine too. The path not taken.

But since I didn’t, there’s no reason to rehash all that. The book I would write now – or whenever the urge strikes – would not be the same book I would have written then. Hopefully it would benefit by all I’ve learned about myself and the world – including things I’ve learned from writing my Work Coach blog.

So no regrets that I didn’t beat the book-that-isn’t-mine to the publishing finish line. And no regrets that some of my original ideas may not be as original as I hoped. Each person has their own story to tell.

As I said, the past is the past. Regretting any of it just wastes time now. I’m so glad I can feel that way. I couldn’t have back then.

We can’t do anything about the past anyway. All we have is now – and the rest of our lives. But that’s a lot! Sometimes we just need to go through a bunch of missteps, detours, and plain-old life experiences to get us to where we need to go anyway.

As I wrote on my cyber-pal Mel’s blog:

“I’m a firm believer that all those other journeys we took – even the ones you regret – help get us to where we are. You wouldn’t be the person you are now without them. And that would be something to regret. “

Mel…this one’s for you!