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Do-Overs: How to Get a Second Chance

Updated on August 19, 2016

How to Get a Do-Over

Everyone, at times, wishes they could have a do-over in life There are three ways to get a do-over--a magical undo button, the fantasy of time travel, or a mulligan. Only the mulligan is actually possible. In golf, a mulligan is a second chance to play the ball. In life, a mulligan is the opportunity to make a different choice. We can't un-do or re-do what's done, but we can get a second chance to make a different choice, to choose a different path, to explore a different possibility.

If You Could Go Back in Time...

If you could go back in time for a do-over, what point in your life would you choose?
If you could go back in time for a do-over, what point in your life would you choose? | Source

If only life came with an undo button.

Don’t you just love the undo button on your computer?

Suppose I inadvertently deleted the entire article I’ve been working on for the past four hours. No problem. I just click “undo.”

If only life had an undo button.

An Undo Button for Life?

Wouldn't it be nice if life had an undo button.
Wouldn't it be nice if life had an undo button. | Source

Everyone wants a do-over.

We wish we could do some of the things that we didn’t do and undo some of the things we did do. When we flub something, we wish we had a chance to do it over. Even when we do something well, we wish we could have a chance to do it better.

  • Observe children at play, and sooner or later you will hear. “I want a do-over. I wasn’t ready.”
  • We have do-overs in sports. In baseball, “It’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game.” The do-overs are built right into the rules. You get three chances to hit the ball.
  • Movies deal with this theme. In the movie, Groundhog Day, a man must relive a day over and over until he gets it right.
  • Science fiction often takes up this theme of time travel. If only we could go back in time and do it differently.

How often do we think about “the road not taken” and wonder how our life would have been different if we could go back and make a different choice?

How often do we think: “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda”?

Do you ever wish you could go back in time?

There is a science fiction book about this: Replay by Ken Grimwood. It is about a man who has a heart attack at age 43, but wakes up to find himself back in time, back to his college days. He’s gone back in time to 25 years earlier, and he is back in his 18-year old body.

If you had the opportunity to do this, would you take it?

At first is sounds great—a chance to start over. But if you think about it a little, it might actually be awful. Here’s why:

This is a wonderful novel. It will get you thinking about do-overs and second chances.

1. Would you like a life with no surprises?

You would know the future. Just think of all the Super Bowls it would ruin for you—knowing who was going to win every time. (On the other hand, you would know what team to bet on.)

In the movie Groundhog Day, the man who is forced to live the same day over and over finds his life so monotonous, that at a certain point, he tries to kill himself. He is unsuccessful, of course-- he simply wakes up again the next morning because he is destined to live this one day over and over until he learns to become a better human being.

2. Do you want to be an “old head” in a young body?

I say “old-head” because you would have all the experiences of a 43-year old, but you would be in your 18-year old body. It’s the “if-I knew-then-what-I-know-now” dream come true.

Would you want to be friends with 18-year olds? You would probably find young people silly, shallow, and ignorant and they would probably feel like you were a know-it-all and an “old fuddy-duddy”.

What if you tried to be friends who were the age of your “old head”, the age you were before you were transported back in time and back into your 18-year old body?

You’d be more compatible with them on a mental level, but they wouldn’t be very compatible as friends. They wouldn’t be able to keep up with you physically, and you wouldn’t have very much in common. You’d be in college or just beginning a career, and they would be planning for retirement and visiting their grandchildren.

Did you ever see a movie that you first saw 20 or 30 years ago? You loved that movie and now you see it again and it is boring. You wonder why you ever liked it. It is because 30 years of experience have intervened, and you can’t see the movie in the same way. It might be like that if you could replay the movie of your life.

Looking Young; Thinking Old

Being an "old head" mans you look young, but you think old.
Being an "old head" mans you look young, but you think old. | Source

3. Do you want to create or edit?

If you got a do-over on your life-- instead of creating, you’d be proofreading. All the fun is in the creation of something; if you got a do-over, you’d just be editing. And where’s the fun in that?

4. Do you want to give up modern conveniences?

If you went back in time, you’d have to live without a lot of the things we have all come to depend upon, even take for granted. No computers, no internet, no smart phones, no VCR’s, no video games, no Velcro, no Spanx, etc.

Think of all the things big and small, you would have to learn to live without.

Life is Full of Choices

Life is full of choices--We can never know which possibility is right and which is a wrong turn.
Life is full of choices--We can never know which possibility is right and which is a wrong turn. | Source

5. Would different choices be better choices?

We always think that different choices would be better choices. But is this really the case? If you had made different choices would it really have made that big a difference in your happiness or success?

Maybe you would like a do-over for a mistake you made. If you had done something differently, it might have been an even bigger mistake. Maybe if you had zigged right instead of zagging left, you would have zigged right into the path of an oncoming bus.

Different choices could have been worse choices.

In the book “Replay”, the protagonist lives his whole life again, and then has a heart attack again, and goes back in time again to an even younger age. This happens over and over. He gets to make different choices each time.

After the first few times, he pretty much just does everything the way he did it the first time. He obviously has come to the conclusion that his life could be different, but different is not necessarily better. He chooses his original life because it is HIS life, and that life is as good as any other.

Life Can Be Like a Spiral

Sometimes life is like a spiral--you think a possibility is gone, but then it spirals back into view.
Sometimes life is like a spiral--you think a possibility is gone, but then it spirals back into view. | Source

Second chances are the mulligans in the game of life.

In golf, a player can get a “mulligan”—a chance to replay the ball. In the games of life, we can get second chances.

When my son was 17, he came to me and said, “Mom, I’ve made so many mistakes.” I thought, “Come talk to me when you are 50.”

What I actually said was “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future. You can have a second chance, a third chance, as many chances as you need.”

Judging by the divorce rate, a lot of people regret their decision to marry the person they married. If you are in a situation like that, then you either need to work on making your marriage better or get a divorce. Either way you have a second chance at happiness. And either way, you have the chance to learn from your mistake and make a better life in the future.

People often regret their career choices. If that is the case, then why not find the work you love? Let that regret be the stimulus that pushes you to make the change you need to make.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. Retired people are starting new careers in a different field all the time. They get a job, start a business, turn their hobby into a source of income, or volunteer. Retirement is no longer about sitting in a rocking chair--it is about starting over and doing the things they never had the time or money or smarts to do when they were younger.

Grandma Moses started painting in her 70’s. Harland Sanders started franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 65. And, I fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a writer in my 60’s. I also wanted to be an actress when I was a little girl, and now I do public speaking and work as a background actor (aka, an extra).

You can find a way to match your dream to your talents and go for it. You can get that second chance!

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.

— John W. Garner

This is the best of all possible lives.

John W. Garner, the secretary of Health Education and Welfare under President Johnson, said, “Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” We can’t erase our past, but we can use our experiences, both good and bad, to help us perfect the “art of living”.

If some fairy godmother or some genie-in-a-lamp came and offered us a do-over, maybe we should say, “Thanks, but no thanks”.

Instead of thinking about do-overs, we should be paraphrasing Voltaire’s Candide: “All is for the best in the best of all my possible lives.”

Take the poll just for fun.

Has life given you second chances?

See results

Groundhog Day: Watch the trailer

© 2015 Catherine Giordano

I welcome your comments. What do you want to do over? What second chances have you taken?

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      4 years ago

      Yes, there are 2 ways to go with time travel stories. Everything is set and can't be changed or it is easy to change things and a minor change has major consequences. A Twilight Zone episode managed to do both in the same story.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      4 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Robert Sacchi: Maybe you could, but I would never remember who won what. Actually in the book Replay the hero does exactly what you suggest and he does become rich. Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting. It is always interesting to thin ,"what if."

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      4 years ago

      You bring up interesting points but I can't agree with you on this one. Take your sports scenario. You could win enough on bets to buy your own team. Then comes the real excitement.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      5 years ago from Orlando Florida

      fpherj48: I would definitely snap up a chance to be 20 again, but only if I could keep all my wisdom. This might have some of the drawbacks I mentioned, but I think it would be worth it. The question still remains would my second life be better, or would I just make different mistakes. thanks for your comments and votes.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      5 years ago from Carson City

      To be able to have the experiences and wisdom of my current age (A-hem, cough cough) and yet be 20 or 25?

      I'd be a fool or a liar to say, "No" to an opportunity like that!

      and because I AM my current age...this is ALL I have to say here! LOL

      Positively marvelous article, Catherine. I love it... UP++++ Peace, Paula

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      5 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Yes, you have hit the nail on the head, Sara. If we time travel we have to take our wisdom with us. Our mistakes gave us our wisdom. That is the paradox. Thanks so much for adding to the discussion

    • Sara Sarwar Riaz profile image

      Sara Sarwar Riaz 

      5 years ago from Michigan, USA

      A very thought provoking article with a close to heart notion explored… I oftentimes wonder if I could revisit certain time points in my life with the choice and ability to "re-do" things. I, however, always concur and convince myself that the wisdom I have today to question my deeds and decisions from the past, is a result of those incidents and course of events. Nevertheless, the idea remains tempting.

      Thank you for sharing this interesting and insightful piece of writing.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      5 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks MsDora: I do talk a good game, and I halfway persuade myself; but if I could time travel, I'd probably take it in a heart beat.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      I like the message in this article. Your five points make so much sense. You inspire me.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      5 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks FlourishAnyway. We all get do-overs. I wanted to be a writer and I made a different career choice and now I'm a writer. I needed all that "experience," as you put it, to have enough wisdom to be ale to write well. I appreciate you vote up and voting on the ratings. It's so nice to know you loved this piece.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      I loved this. I've had the benefit of one or two do-overs, and the rest I've chalked up to experience. Voted up and more.

    • CatherineGiordano profile imageAUTHOR

      Catherine Giordano 

      5 years ago from Orlando Florida

      billybuc: This is based on one of my speeches. I had to cut a lot to keep the word count down. In my speech I say that all the "mistakes" are just part of the journey. If I changed my past, I wouldn't be who I am today, and I like who I am today. I'm so glad you liked my positive message. Thanks.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What a wonderfully positive article. To answer your question, I wouldn't change a thing. I'm a big believer in the Butterfly Effect. My actions in the past led me to today, and today is close to perfect. :)


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