Retroactive is a tricky word to me. To be quite honest; it’s one that I have to look up use-case every time I include it in an email.

From eight to five, Monday through Friday I’m a data analyst. I spend my days determining what data points to capture, analyzing that data and then troubleshooting when there are technical issues and for some reason data isn’t being captured. Majority of the time technical fixes can rarely impact data retroactively. However, there are those rare moments that I’m told a simple classification update will in fact provide a clean view of data back to launch. It’s these moments that the clouds part and a bright blue sky reigns.

Because that’s typically not the case, I spend half my day trying to clean up the data manually and the other half praying for that glorious day when the “dirty” data is no longer in my comparison window. After all the clean up I’m left with little time to do the analysis, which is my actual job.

I’ve come to realize that life rarely has those retroactive fixes. With age, the decisions become greater, the impact more significant and the clean up much more difficult. Thinking before acting can lessen the need for clean up, allowing more time to make a positive impact, which is essentially what we’re all here to do. But there are those unavoidable glitches in life that no matter which way you spin it, there’s just no explanation. These glitches weren’t requested nor were they deserved.

As dad began to carve out his new normal shortly after retiring, he sent an email to the six kids. Little does he know the impact his words made or the fact that I reference this email from time to time when I feel myself drifting from the clear blue sky.  

Dad wrote “So set your goals, not for your benefit but for others, always for others, family, children, charity, church, needy- you choose and then set out to do it.  You will be amazed at what you can accomplish when the goal is not for you but someone dependent on you or those less fortunate… Always keep it real and no one will ever fault you.”

Life the past couple of months has had its fair share of unavoidable glitches. None of it can be explained but through it all I could still see beauty in the interactions of the people that surrounded me. Meals were still delivered to friends, time was shared, hugs were a little tighter, compassionate words said aloud. People showed up, not for themselves but for the benefit of those that needed it.

This is all to emphasize the importance of living a thoughtful life, the importance of being a good human from the start. Life can be extremely trying at times and continuously wishing you had done things differently is tiring. Remember retroactive fixes are seldom. Be proactive, live a life that makes an impact on someone else.