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Hindsight, Insight and Foresight

Updated on May 19, 2014
Hindsight, Insight, Foresight
Hindsight, Insight, Foresight

Hindsight leading to Insight

‘Do we learn from our mistakes,' and more importantly, ‘do we make adjustments to our life in accordance with the lessons learned.’

The voice of hindsight often says: “I wish I knew then what I know now.”

Life is full of lessons, sometimes we know with some certainty the outcome of the action, and other times you have a moment when you say, “I was right, I knew that would happen." That was hindsight. You may already be thinking, that you should have done it differently to create another result, but don’t be too hard on yourself, we cannot foretell the future, nor can we go back and undo what has been done.

Hindsight is described as "the ability to gain clarity by looking back in retrospect;" foresight is the ability to see what will happen before it occurs and the wisdom to avoid it. A simple example being, don't step off a fast moving bus, because you will be hurt. Mistakes, shouldn't always be seen as negative, they can actually be stepping-stones to greater success.

Do we chalk up a lesson learned to life’s twists and turns, store the lesson in our mind or heart, but don’t always allow the lesson to settle into our feet and the next steps we take.

The lesson learned is not worth much if it doesn’t affect the way we walk through life, increase our insight and knowledge to make better decisions in the future.

How linking to Hindsight helps the present

Our brain associates new information with what is already stored in your head. This is how experiences we have are linked together.

You are unlikely to make a decision in the future, when you know that some decision in the past brought on some unlikeable effects.

It is not always about bad outcomes though, as hindsight will also remember the positive decisions and the good results made in the past thereby allowing you to create more positive things in your life.

We are always learning, life keeps teaching us. Hindsight means that we are a work in progress, an unfinished project. You can still create meaningful experiences in your life based on what you have achieved, done, visited, or made.

Hindsight is about what you do with the knowledge and experience that you have gained going forward in your life.

HIndsight, Insight and Foresight
HIndsight, Insight and Foresight | Source

Hindsight Bias

This bias is our tendency to think that we knew deep down that things would have had to turn out the way they did. In part this our desire to make sense of the world and believe that we can foresee what is happening to us and why, is partly to blame for this rose-coloured thinking.

This finding has been proved time and time again, be it the outcomes of a diagnoses, legal decision or sporting event seems more likely after the answer is known.

The hindsight bias can be a problem if it stops us learning from our mistakes. However, you can ensure you correct your hindsight bias by justifying your judgments and think of alternate ways it could have turned out. This will usually allow you see how things could easily have turned out differently.

Insight and Foresight

Ask yourself where you see yourself a few years from now, will your plans be fulfilled, where are you, who are you with? Then, imagine you could go into the future and give advice to your younger self – what would you say?

Let’s turn the hindsight question around and ask, “If you knew then what you know now what would you do differently?”

Foresight allows for the recognition of realities, possibilities or requirement of the situation before it happens. It also takes the experience of hindsight into consideration and makes you better prepared to handle the event, and make contingency plans. Identifying the patterns that lead to good results will improve the quality of your decisions. Thus turning hindsight into insight.

The cinematic retrospective lens provides us with the knowledge of what to avoid, and the wisdom of to make proper choices at the exact time that, in hindsight, would otherwise have been damaging to us.

360 Degree: Develop Hindsight, Insight and Foresight

Hindsight in Relationships

Hindsight will not give you happiness, insight regarding happiness, such as contentment and peace comes from within, – it is not an external process.

Every relationship we form and romantic encounter we enter is a lesson, which allows us to make a decision on what we really want in a partner. These mistakes allow us to progress. It is easy to forget what you consider important in a relationship when in the throes of infatuation. Just as easily as we are assailed by the feelings of pain and over-thinking of what went ‘wrong’ when the relationship ends.

So using your hindsight, insight and foresight, make a list of the characteristics you liked in your previous partners, including the list of ‘don’t like,’ and ‘will not tolerate.’ Then list the characteristics you would like to have in a partner, differentiating between qualities that ‘it would be great if,' but not a relationship stopper, and absolute ‘must-haves.'

Once you have put everything together keep it handy so when you think you may be at the start of a really great relationship, you can look at your list and tick off the qualities inherent in your new person. From there, you will know if the relationship is a non-starter or whether you should proceed.

Life presents you with higher standards learned through mistakes, so ensure that you receive better by embracing every lesson life brings.

Relationships and Hindsight
Relationships and Hindsight

Thinking about Hindsight, Insight and Foresight

What boo-boos or blunders have you made in your life? Could you share with others what happened to you and on reflection, what would you do differently, what lessons would you like others to know to save them from severe consequences of a decision or series of decisions.

Although hindsight and foresight are important tools, live in the moment, practice ‘now-ness.' Mindfulness takes some practice, but the now is all there really is. Trust yourself and your own insight, and don’t let over-thinking stop you from doing something.

And read - biographies are useful as someone else before us, has already made all the mistakes that can be made. Learn from them. It may lead you down a non-conventional path, which may catapult you to new experiences and success beyond our expectations.

An insight worth sharing is that knowledge will only become wisdom through application; you have spent years learning, so strive to put what you have learned to good use, and your individual journey with your experiences, you will learn the necessary lessons to ensure that all stages of your life will happen right on schedule.


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    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      WriterJanis, You are so right, thank you for reading and your thoughts. Much appreciated.

    • WriterJanis profile image


      4 years ago from California

      Life is all about learning lessons. Some of my mistakes in the past have actually helped me in life.

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      DDE, Many thanks Devika for always being there - I do appreciate both you and your thoughtful comments.

      FlourishAnyway, Hello and thank you for stopping and leaving your thoughts. I couldn't agree with you more, now is what we have, and what we must enjoy to the full.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I like your recommendation about practicing "now-fulness." We can live too much in the past or future. Although we can learn from yesterday and plan for tomorrow (which may or may not come), the only thing we can really do anything about is now.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I have moved forward from my past thoughts. I saw progress in my life once I started seeing the light. Lessons are always learned if only everyone could see their mistakes and learn from it great hub indeed.

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      Thank Bill for visiting and appreciate your comments - we can't change the past, so as you say it's better to learn and move forward.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      An interesting discussion for sure. I once spent so much time dissecting my past, and regretting decisions, and wishing I was I just try to learn and move forward. Thanks for the food for thought.


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