Time Travel: What Would You Do?

What if you could flip a switch and go back in time?

It’s right up there with flying and invisibility—the ability to travel in time, to revisit the past and alter the future.

What if you could return to some point in the past and do something different?

Would you undo a historical tragedy?

Relive your glory days?

Make a different choice?

Or would you leave it alone, secure in the knowledge that you can’t change the past but are responsible for your future?

All answers are acceptable and valid. Tell us yours here.


Update: thanks for all the responses! This post is now closed for comments—we’ll have another reader forum soon.


Image: HKD

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  • Ryan says:

    I definitely fall into the latter of the categories. If you’re focussed only on what could have/should have/would have been you’re taking valuable time and attention away from focussing on how to make things better, both now and in the future. Learn from the past and apply it to how you live in the now.

  • Brianna says:

    I’m a pretty firm believer in not changing the past because it made me who I am today. But if I had a time machine I would totally go back to relive the hard parts so I could find the joy in them the second time around.

    For example, when I look back at a visual merchandising job that drove me crazy, I now realize I actually enjoyed the work just not the hours. I wasted a lot of time and energy “hating” when I could have been focusing on the parts I enjoyed.

  • James Gregory says:

    I think I would choose a time where I believe I would have the least amount of impact, just to keep the present day relatively safe. I think that time would be around the 60s and 70s. Man ‘o man, I can just see it now. Living in the sexual revolution, marching with the hippies, knowing that this movement ain’t going to mean shit in the future. Doing all the drugs you can find while simply calling it freedom of self expression, before all of the real addicts started to surface (and before we realized what too much can do to a person). Wood stock baby. FUCKING WOODSTOCK! First things first, get that damn brown acid out of there, it’s ruining the whole party man! I would have shook those nuns’ hands, danced with them in the rain nekkid (God knows that would have been the only time I praise the lord). I would have jumped on that stage and held Janis Joplin in my arms, telling her it’s going to be ok, there are lots of stars that are going to die at 26.

  • Natalie says:

    I would go back in time to when I was around 12-13 years old and became “too cool” for my sister. I wish I had spent more time with her on a friend level as compared to me being a mean big sister. I wonder how different our relationship would be now if I had been nicer…

  • uberschizo says:

    I would go back to when I was in med school and instead of fucking around,as I did, slog like a donkey.

    If I had learned disciplined studying/working then, I would not have this kind of a mess on my hands


  • James says:

    If I were to change anything, my brief answer would be that I would tell myself to study more and party less. The reality is that even if I could change it, I wouldn’t- I like who I am, and there is no point in worrying over things that are gone in all but memory. And personally I feel better living on the present with an eye to the future. I can work with what I have and improve a little every day.

  • Joshua says:

    I’d go back and watch: To look at my life as an observer. To celebrate the good and learn from the bad. To notice the countless gifts of kindness and generosity given by others that I couldn’t see at the time.

    And when I visited times of struggle and suffering, I’d whisper to myself that everything will be OK.

  • Elise says:

    Ah I’m not sure I’d like to see my past again, the person I was then is so different to now, not necessarily in a bad way but I couldn’t resist telling her to get a f***ing grip! Think I’d be more interested in the future part of time travel anyway – not that I’d want to ruin the surprise, but I really have no idea where my life is headed, which is slightly frustrating at times… 🙂

  • Shoshan says:

    For years before I always had the feeling that I wouldn’t be around when my grandmother passed away.

    I would go back and follow my intuition more closely so that I would not have gone to Canada (my first time out of the country). That way I could at least have been able to say goodbye in person.

  • Gabor says:

    I would go back to 1999, and have a talk with myself. I would make different choices at that time. I would go and do the IB in my high school, enroll into a different university, and actually finish that.

    This goes against the whole “education is not important” philosophy, which is true, but also makes life a hell of a lot easier, and people won’t look at you weirdly for not having a bachelor’s at the age of 28.

  • Mary says:

    I would just like to have one more day with my parents to not just tell them how much I love them but to ask them questions. Other than that I can’t imagine changing anything of my past — it was served me well to get me to today. Okay I might tell Elvis to cut back on the peanut butter sandwiches.

  • Kristen says:

    I would go back to the summer before Dad got sick and Mom died, and relive those last few months with my parents. I would relish every moment.

  • Stuart Gustafson says:

    Comfortable in knowing that I couldn’t actually change the events that occurred (such as Dad and Grandpa being killed by a drunk driver when I was only 16), I would invest the time and effort into absorbing what time I had with certain people. Traveling the world is great, and I’ve enjoyed all my trips, but it is people relationships that are at the foundation of what is truly important. So I would make sure that I’ve used the time wisely, thoroughly enjoying and soaking in the memories that would soon be fleeting.

  • John C says:

    I would relive wonderful moments/days we traveled to Hanoi, VietNam to bring home our adopted baby boy. The first moments holding him, feeding him… long walks around Hanoi, the wonderful greetings and kindnesses from local shopkeepers, restaurant staff and neighbors we met along the streets near our hotel. Hoan Kiem Lake (giant turtle presents the emperor with a magic sword to defeat invaders)… watching TaiChi along the banks of the river. Street vendors, Pho, Paper Street…

  • Roger says:

    To be honest, there isn’t much if anything i would change. Every decision i made in the past has brought me to where i am now. I have a wonderful wife and 2 great kids. If i had made different decisions in my life, no matter how big or small there is the chance my life would have been different. What i want to do is change my future and to do that i need to work on that in my present. That is why i am currently working on launching a project and not only will help me but also help our Wounded Warriors.

  • Maria says:

    I’d have gone into the Army straight out of high school and gotten Uncle Sam to pay for my college instead of going into student loan debt slavery.

  • Anonymous says:

    I wish to reserve this ability for exactly 35 days into the future, at which point I may be desperate for a big, red do-over button.

    You know what? I’m going to pretend I do have one and perhaps then I’ll make the gutsy decision. As always, thanks for the push, Chris.

  • Steve Fisher says:

    Having been born in the right place at the right time for myself, the only thing I’d want to do is relive my childhood from the middle of middle school or so on.

    It’d be much easier dealing with the shit of a 11 year old with a 25 year old’s mind and emotions.

    And I’d be able to get in shape/flexible before being done growing which would have been awesome.

  • Guy says:

    Tough choice as I am a product of my past which is part of living.

    I think I would go back to re-learn youthful fearlessness that I used to have and to teach my younger self not be so affraid of the future. To be more empethitic to others and less arrogant and be more driven in what I want to do. Forgive myself for the poor things that I have done.

    Oddly enough simply thinking about it has given me the time machine that I dream of. I simply have to do those things now and my present becomes my past and I have a brighter future.

    So though my time machine is only virtual the impact of making those changes are real and now.

    I suggest everyone should take the same virtual trip and apply those things that they would alter to their today self.

  • Michael Pinter says:

    I would go back in time about twenty years and tell my earlier self to do what you really want to do, to take chances and not be complacent, to really spend the time figuring out what you want to do instead of what everyone thinks you should do. To forget about everyone’s expectations and to live the life of your dreams. to forget medicocrity and to imagine greatness and then become that.

  • PAblo says:

    I moved to Australia and it took me 9 months to find a job in my field.
    I was sad, worried, stressed. Today no money in the world could buy me 9 months off, of freedom… Time for me…
    I would face it in a totally different way

  • Ti says:

    I’m having way too much fun in the here and now to take time out for traveling to the past. How boring! I know those people and situations. What turns me on is this moment, the people I’m with now, the situations that are unfolding as I listen inward and let that inner voice nudge me one way or the other. Sorry, past, you’re lovely, but you can’t hold a candle to the living everchanging present!

  • Heinz says:

    There is a recommendation to remember the events of a day every evening and to correct unplesant details in your mind. This makes you free from negative emotions like anger, shame, fear. You can transform your past by remodeling negative events into positive ones. This psychological trick or recommendation allows you to free your mind and your heart from thoughts, beliefs or emotions that block your way to success and freedom.

    Make your own new filmscript of your life. Every day is a new start with new chances. Be open to the good things, friends and other nice people who are waiting for you. Life ist beautiful and you deserve the best.

    Good luck

  • Jay says:

    I wouldn’t go back. I might start tinkering around, change something significatnt and become a bigger jerk than I already am. Nope…got to go forward…let’s get one with it baby!

  • Stephanie says:

    I would have made my big leap sooner. The fear of the unknown (and the ease of a comfortable setting) kept me in a stagnant place for too long. How could I have known moving to a new city to begin a new job and overall, a new experience could be so life-changing? To the idea of time travel? To be able to start sooner all the awesome I’m living now, I would say sign me up!

  • Sammy Jo says:

    I screwed up plenty but wouldn’t actually change any of that. I learned valuable lessons from every single one of those screw ups. HOWEVER, I would change one thing.

    I was reunited with my birth-sibs in 1995. My birthmother was furious with them and wanted nothing to do with me. I had one opportunity to speak with her at a family wedding in ’99. I didn’t do it. I told people I was respecting her desired privacy and didn’t want her to make a scene at my niece’s wedding. (“Mommy Dearest” was a hothead!)

    The truth is that I didn’t want to walk up to her with an open heart, thank her for giving me the best chance in life, and then have her look me in the eyes and say, “What are you doing? Get the hell away from me!”

    Being rejected at birth was painful enough. Being rejected twice? No thanks.

    Now, I think I better understand her fear and her shame. If I could do it over, I would take the risk just so I could thank her and walk away. My life has been so much better than my sibling’s lives.

  • Sue Vit says:

    I would go back to 1898 to the freighter that brought my Great Grandma Abby to this country from Austria. She left everything behind bringing only a trunk of belongings and two toddlers. My Great Grandpa Louis came ahead. What a brave woman. Was she scared? Did her children get sea sick? Did she get sick? She built the life that I and my family now gets to enjoy. She gave us our love of travel. Would love to stand next to her on that boat…

  • Lxndr says:

    I would go to myself at 20 or so, which would be in 2001, and tell myself the following thing:

    “In the summer of 2007, DO NOT MAKE PLANS. June. That’s when the brain tumor shows up. You probably cant’ do anything to stop it, but it’s best if you at least can plan around it. Also, after the brain tumor, start checking you balls. If you catch the testicular cancer, early, it might not metastasize as much. Just do it.”

    I probably can’t stop either one of those, but I can make the treatments easier.

  • Phats says:

    I would never have started working a 9 to 5 job because it has been difficult for me to break out of it. I have always hated it but now have the courage to become an entrepeneur.

  • Christa Avampato says:

    It’s hard to understand the impact and choices of our lives as we move forward. As we look back over time, we see how the pieces fall into place. What I would love to do is go back in time as an observer and see how conversations I’ve had and decisions I’ve made affected others in the moment they happened. We make such an impact on others and often times we don’t get to see the outcome of that impact. I think it would be such an enlightening and eye-opening experience for me to observe those effects.

  • Deanna says:

    I would go back to my high school years and tell myself that I matter. That I was created with a purpose. And that all the nasty things kids say don’t define who I am – and don’t matter a hill of beans. Then I wouldn’t have to waste years struggling to build self-esteem and figure out who I am. I would have a sense of purpose and confidence to pursue and realize my dreams as a young person – instead of waiting until my 30s.

  • C B says:

    Even though I believe most of our mistakes are learning opportunities and can even create new pathways, there is one mistake that added no value. I would go back in time to 20 years ago, tell myself to get over my pity party, and not cheat on my husband. He forgave me and now several cities, children, and decades later it still was not worth the pain I created.

  • Wendy Reese says:

    This is tough for me. Part of me would go back to the last 6 weeks of my grandads life and take a FMLA to spend as much time as possible with him. I had to work so I missed precious moments that can’t never be had again. The other part of me would make two stops- India and Alabama. I’d ask Gandhi and Dr. King what they learned, wished they’d done, and regret as well as best practices. I’d ask them about their marriages- how do you do what you do and still give what is needed to your partner…or do you? I’d ask what they would do if they were in Arizona circa 2012 with the craziness here? What would they do about Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Mexico? What was the equal and opposite reaction to their actions and did they expect that? How did they have fun? How did they ground and relax (really)? Then I would figure out how to integrate it and apply it…right freakin’ NOW! Because, sure there is a past that is unchangeable. There is a present where we actually can do something. The future, is nonexistent…ever. It’s just one present moment unfolding into the next.

  • Jeremy says:

    Two answers in one – I think I’d go back just far enough to make a really smart investment… To ensure freedom from the drudgery of work and the ability to travel and spend my life engaged in philanthropic activities and creating art.

    I’d also love to go back and see my father more in his last years, but that’s far enough back to royally screw with the timeline, so yeah. There’s that.

  • Ratana says:

    When I was 17 and graduating high school, I almost skipped going to college in my home state of Michigan to move to NYC to pursue my dream of acting and singing on Broadway. Instead of moving to the big city, I went to college, grad school and worked in corporate America for nearly 10 years before (once again) becoming an actor and pursuing that dream. The “bug” was always there, but I had to rediscover it. Life has a funny way of revealing its path to us: it took me many years, and a different coast, but I’ve come full circle.

    Part of me wonders “what if” I had just followed my dream at 17, but the other part of me thinks I had to do exactly what I’ve done in order to arrive here where I am today.

  • PAblo says:

    That girl that broke my heart… Dont get on the plane to go see her…
    Just forget about her…. She will only hurt you little boy..

  • Marilyn Taillon says:

    If you’re handing out superpowers, can I have levitation instead?

  • Eric | Eden Journal says:

    Most of the comments so far are about going back a very short time and changing our own lives. I don’t have a desire to change anything.

    I’d rather to time-sight-seeing. Imagine going back billions of years to see what the earth was like, or maybe even to the time before earth. I’d love to hit the times that predate human life to see if our scientist have it right with their theories of evolution. I’d want to see if there are any human like civilizations that predate our own, but didn’t leave any fossil evidence behind. I also want to see if dinosaurs roar like they do in all the movies, I’ve always wondered if they did that in real life.

    Then, if this isn’t just a “way back” machine, I’d like to head into the future to see how things progress. Espcially in the times that would be after my current lifetime. I’d love to see my daughter and her kids and grandkids in the future. I’d also like to see how technology and humanity evlove.

  • Michael says:

    I would visit and explore the prehistoric era. Science still has many questions about the beginning of life and I would be delighted to help answer those.

    There are many amazing times to visit. Using a time machine to change my past is boring by comparison.

  • Chad Ray says:

    I wouldn’t really want to do anything that would alter my future, aside from somehow telling my past self what the future holds, that its not as scary as I made it out to be, and to give myself some encouragement and self confidence that I did NOT have then and still struggle with to this day. But I’d love to just step back and tell my past self to step up, take more chances, don’t be afraid, and be the person you really want to be and stop being so afraid of the “What Ifs.” Especially when it comes to any and every type of relationship.

  • Greg says:

    I would have started an entrepreneurial career earlier in life. Raised in my family to be a “climb the ladder” corporate businessperson, I realize now that the term “career” is a relative word. It’s less about how others, society, corporate America, etc define us….and more how we define ourselves. In fact, the term “career” (however one chooses to define it) should be out distanced by “happiness” and “passion”. I’ve learned that if you pragmatically follow your passions, everything is will follow.

  • Becky says:

    I’ve often caught myself saying I wish I could go back and do things over. But the truth is, I have learned from every single event in my life, both good and bad. And the sum total of my experiences has made me who I am today. Would I like to change things? Sure. But I don’t think going back and selectively changing an event would be the answer. I prefer to use all of the events of my personal past and what I have learned from historical events to inform the choices I make in the future. I have no expectation that I will make perfect choices, but I just don’t think a redo button is the answer!

  • Alison Wiley says:

    Good timing, Chris! I feel no need to change my own past, but you reminded me of one of my favorite novels. It’s about some very wise people who learned to time-travel, and they chose the most pivotal point in human history to go back and do an intervention. I just now added this book to the Progressive Novels section of my Books I Love page (right under the Progressive Takes On Money section). Thanks for inspiring me. I love the concept of time-travel when it involves intentionality.

  • JD Kimple says:

    My wife had this very discussion not too long ago. It was based on our eldest son. Actually, I am his step-father but having known him since he was 2, I never think of him as anything less than my son. He was killed in Iraq by an IED four years ago.

    Her comment was that she could go back and not marry me, to spare me the sadness and pain.

    My thought is that if she did, I would not have gotten that time with James. The pain and loss I feel now is proportional to the joy he brought. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

    So no, I would not go back and change the past.

  • Nancy says:

    I’ve given this subject a lot of thought lately. It’s been a tough year with some great celebrations and some major upsets. Right now I’m unemployed because I chose not to go back to work after a year of maternity leave. I decided being around to watch my son learn and grow was more important. However, my choice has had its consequences. I’ve had to cash out my pension to pay debts and stay afloat with bills. We’re naot starving by any means, but it’s been stressful. Because of all this, time travel has been on my mind an awful lot. I could go back and tell myself to work harder in high school, or I could tell myself to finish my apprenticeship in Europe like I wish I had, to hold off getting married until his student loans are paid off in full, to use my maternity leave as a time to study for a new career. There are so many ways I could change my life and the direction it’s in, but I know that changing the past would affect my present life a great deal. Maybe I wouldn’t have my son if I made one little change, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. So, my choice is to live without regretting my past and know that I am responsible for taking charge of my future.

  • Sherice says:

    I think if I could go back in time, instead of choosing a specific moment, I would want to have the ability to go back to a single phrase “You Can’t” and erase their negative impact at the times those words were spoken AND I let them influence me. For the times I didn’t – I’ll keep those because they shaped who I am today :). And for the times they come again in the future, I’ll remember this day because it served as I reminder that I always have a choice.

  • Cynthia Morris says:

    This is a great question. Time travel is a perennial fascination.

    I kind of answered this question in my novel Chasing Sylvia Beach. I’ve always wanted to go to Paris in the 20s and 30s – I have that romantic lens that Woody Allen showed so well in Midnight in Paris.

    So in order to experience that as much as possible, I wrote a novel where my character is transported back to 1937. In true Wizard of Oz fashion, she has to find herself in order to find her way home…but home isn’t where she thought it was either.

    Even though I started writing this years ago, I still think that if I could time travel, I’d go back to this time. Especially now that I’ve done all the research for it! 😉

    Thanks for asking this fun question.

  • Patricia GW says:

    To know my father.

    Other than that, I am in the place in time I was always meant to be.

  • KarenB says:

    I would love to go back and spend a day with each of my parents. I wouldn’t change anything, I would just look, listen and hug them one more time. Besides, staying present keeps me busy:)

  • Judy Morris says:

    I wouldn’t really change things so much as just listen to a few people more. I don’t mean “listen” as in “do what they tell me”. I mean really listen to them, ask questions, get to know them, bond. I remember the last time I saw my grandmother, I was trying to make up for an entire childhood of not caring what she had to say and adult years of not being around, and get some of her version of her experiences in the world. That was interrupted by my sister who wanted to use that time to complain about her son. More recently, there are a few people I have had intense interpersonal conflict with, that I wish I had been able to bond a bit better with and avoid that painful conflict. Listening more, and more closely, understanding them, what they want, what their priorities are – might have eliminated or reduced that painful conflict. But now that I think about it, without that conflict as intense as it was, I may not have become close to some people who are now my closest friends. So forget it. I’ll just have to move forward from here. And talk less, listen more.

  • Laurie Ann Silberman says:

    There are two key things that would love to do differently if given the chance:
    1) I would not try to please both my conservative family and myself, because if you are in a straddle split all the time it’s hard to make forward progress.
    2) Would turn the great work done through agencies in the late 80s & early 90s into my own busiess. Because it was and I didn’t realize.

  • matt says:

    Historical: Force Hitler’s mom to have an abortion.

    My life: Go back to 2006 and instead of going to college, take a year off and travel solo around the world.

  • Tom Malcolm says:

    I believe there is only “now”. The past, the present and the future are all occurring simultaneously.

    Paradoxically, we can influence the future “now” with our knowledge of past “now”, in the present “now”.

    The question is, “Will we?”

  • Maria Klein says:

    No, I wouldn’t change the past, if I would do that my present would not be the same.
    I would make different choices and the outcome would also be different. It might be better or worst than it is now. The only thing I would love to re-do, are the beautiful travels I made along the way.
    Love your work!

  • Nate says:

    It depends if I could switch back time more than once or not. If I could switch back time repeatedly I’d make a bunch of money gambling/trading/investing. After that it would only seem really useful in order to impress someone or avert a disaster (like that show First Edition but on a larger scale). Life is meant to have a bunch of mistakes, that’s how we grow. I guess what I’m saying is that I’d only use it to make myself filthy rich and/or save the planet.

  • Brianna says:

    There are so many things I would do differently. I would have taken more fun classes in college. I wouldn’t have dated my exes. I wouldn’t have moved back to Vegas after graduation. I wouldn’t have taken a job just because it came along.

  • Zach Turner says:

    I’d go back to high school, sophomore year and do it all over again from there. I wouldn’t take religion so seriously. I would know much more about women. I would understand what’s really important in life. I’d plan my finances out much earlier. And I’d figure out how to go to college for free.

    With all that done, the second time around would be even awesomer!

  • mark wilshire says:

    i would go back to when i was 16 at school and in the uk we pick our path in life and choose subjects ( options) and i would drop all the useless subjects that i only did to get qualifications.. history, geography, and i would take the subjects that i actually enjoyed… Drama, Art, music… then maybe my life would have turned out different… instead of re-inventing myself at 40yrs old and following the path i should of when i was young!! But atleast i am lucky to get another chance to follow my inner vioce… its never too late.. :)) But atleast my life experiences can benefit the young around me… as i always go on at them to ” follow your dreams ” … ” do what YOU enjoy in life ” … ” Not what people expect of you..”
    But i dont regret my life… i feel very blessed, but sometimes…. ” what if I…” does enter my head.
    Peace n light. x

  • Dr. Samantha says:

    For me: I would whisper to my younger self that it really doesn’t matter what other people think, to be herself, and that in the end that’s what will make everything right in her world.

    For history: I’m with @Matt but maybe just render Hitler aphonic, or use an additional superpower to give him a conscience.

  • Ryan Trimble says:

    The only thing in life over which we have any control is our choices. Choices, by their very nature, can only be made in the moment.

    Why go back in time and try to start over when you can live in the moment and slow life down? Slow does not mean boring. It means “soaking it up.”

    Living “right now” makes life a long, adventurous journey.

  • Guy Bouchard says:

    I could correct a few of my mistakes. I could live a few glory days again.

    In fact, i would not go back. Each change made could modify more than what an human can imagine.

    I prefer do things differently if i want a different result.

  • John says:

    I’d tackle Richard Reid in front of the airport and steal his shoes.

  • Justin says:

    Nothing…every bump, bruise, and scar has shaped me, taught me what I can accomplish, and turned me into the kind of person that can seize the opportunities of today. Our poor choices teaches us to recognize them as such, and helps us determine the right choices.

  • David Hunt says:

    I wouldn’t change a thing, my miss steps along the way made me who I’m today. I think we all do the best we can at the time based on on our life experience up to that point and the current influences in our life at the time. My biggest blunders teach me the most important lessons, so they were the best choices… the time. Regrets can kill you, so don’t have any. Put the weight down and walk freely.

  • Carol Todd says:

    I wouldn’t change a thing. The way I see it is the choices I’ve made and the life I’ve experienced made me who I am today. I rather like this person and I know changing anything would change who I am.

  • iktomi says:

    I would go back to September 1956 and not move to Everett, WA for a job. That would change my life and that of my family. There should have been a marriage/family 101 class in high school that made me understand my views of life and goals were not the same as others. Questions should be asked before the commitment of what obligations are attached. So many people don’t understand what commitment means whether in marriage, children, education, mortgages, contracts, loans, etc. We think we can easily divorce, default, become bankrupt, but those are not final solutions. Thanks, Chris, I do believe stepping onto the plane and jetting to 180 new destinations is a great way to glide through life although you do have commitments and obligations, too. Yes, I would like to be on that plane.

  • Jeremy says:

    You know it’s funny perhaps a younger version of myself would have answered this question completely different.

    However the person I am today is content with his past, through the heartbreak, the hardship, and the failure. All of these past situations have provided me with the great path I walk today.

    Nowadays I look to the future and all its possibilities, while appreciating my past and all it has taught me : )

  • Christopher says:

    I’d tell my past self, “it’s all going to work out fine.”

    Just as my deathbed self is telling me now, “you’re going to be all right kid. Just make the scary choice.”

  • Sherri says:

    The biggest thing I’d tell my younger self is to not let let fear make my decisions. What a waste of precious life to not live by your instincts and trust yourself. It’s never too late…until it’s too late…and it’s not too late yet!

  • Dave says:

    I’ll admit that I’d be more Biff-like than Marty McFly-like and I’d bet on the outcomes of games, horse races, stock market changes. I’d take all my winnings and invest it in computers in 1980 and cell phones in 1990. Call me shallow; I can accept that.

  • Joseph Bernard says:

    Time travel, now this a is a really fun topic. A little over a year ago I began to explore out of body experiences (dream are also powerful for this). This has opened such a large doorway into exploring free of the limits of time.

    Two of my favorite trips so far include meeting on the scaffolding with Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. I go back there when I need a jolt of creative genius.

    And my trip to the end of the universe where I found out that we live in a multiverse as science is just beginning to understand.

    I also go to visit guides who are always waiting to show me the way to what I want to make happen.

    There really are not limits.

  • Rick Kitagawa says:

    I’d go back in time and tell my younger self not to let fear rule my life (and maybe to take out less student loans). Other than that, I would change nothing!

  • Robert Long says:

    I first thought that I would go back to my ASB pres campaign speech and instead of believing i could wing it and bombing horribly, I would actually prepare. But on second thought, I would not go back. Because of that experience I learned the importance of preparation in a far deeper way and have learned to become good at and indeed love public speaking.

    A friend and of mine and I have been kicking around a screenplay idea of this exact topic.

  • Richard Jimenez says:

    The idea to satisfy others first before myself is what I would like to redo if I could. Only recently have I begun career wise to try and emulate my dad as an entrepreneur. Why didn’t I back then? I saw more of the bad side with employees, the pressure to succeed was evident when sales didn’t meet his expectations. But, he was free from the corporate world. Now i am exploring to find a problem and fix it. Thanks to authors such as Chris, I have tools to help me.

  • Jenni Bennett says:

    Right before my senior year at the University of Florida (2005), I found out I was 1 credit shy of graduating. I coerced one of my professors into letting me create a blog focused on public relations case studies and current events to earn that one credit in a self-study course. (PS, it was the first PR blog at UF!) I got some good attention on the blog – even got an encouraging comment from a big wig at PRNewswire. After I graduated, I stopped posting. If I could go back in time, I never would have stopped posting on that blog. It could have grown as I did and really become something, but I had no idea the potential of what I was creating. I think it could have made a huge impact on my career and potentially even become my first business – had I known then what I know now, things would be different.

  • Brooke @ Food Woolf says:

    If I could go back in time I would tell my young self a few things: 1) You’re right on time 2) Be courageous 3) Don’t be so hard on yourself. 4) Save your money!

    The thing of it, though, is that I doubt I would listen to myself. Gotta learn the lessons for yourself. And so it is. Learning and loving where I am RIGHT NOW!

  • Amy Harris says:

    I would love to go back in time and meet my ancestors. There are traits that my grandmother, my mother and myself all share… It would be fascinating to learn if they were habits picked up from each preceding generation of family members. It would also be amazing to experience the cultures and places where my relatives lived in their times.

  • Kevin S. says:

    I would go back to when most of the world started taking shortcuts in terms of food. Although guilty myself at times, the fact that we ingest a ton of preservatives, pesticides, artificial flavors and sweeteners that are man-made and not found in nature is unbelievable. My new found time travel ability would be used to convince people from the start that these were bad ideas. I hope they have a frequent flyer program because I would need to make a lot of stops along the way. Here’s to living a healthy and balanced life and not conforming.

  • Deborah says:

    My past (mistakes and all) is how I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff and to appreciate every moment (easier said than done!). No… i wouldn’t change a thing.

  • Willena says:

    My best experiences have always come when I let myself act without fear. However, I was raised in the South with all those “good girl” expectations. Never wear white after Labor Day and stir the tea with the iced teaspoon, not the soup spoon, are only two of the sort of rules I grew up with. So I’m often just a bundle of fear and anxiety. I wish I could go back in time to shadow my younger self, wearing my invisibility cloak of course, to whisper in my own ear, “It’s okay to be afraid; do it anyway,” and “It doesn’t matter what other people think of you.” It’s fun now to be the middle-aged spinster who goes go-kart racing and zip-lining, but I sure wasted a lot of time dying the slow death of boredom.

  • Rodrigo Branco Matsumoto says:

    That is an excellent question, but honestly I do not think that we should change anything in the past. Everything happened for a purpose, I believe. Being for a good or bad reason, events occurred to taught the humanity something.

    However, if I could return to the past, in a certain way I would like to encourage people to travel more, shaking their comfort zone to realize that around the world we have many things to know and learn. That if we could share a smile, a hug, using the power of listening (forgotten by many of us) people would comprehend that simple gestures can change the future.

    Utopia? Perhaps, but if I could come back in the past, this is what I would like to do.

  • Donna Jaye says:

    I generally think everything happens exactly as it is suppose to.
    But I would go back to Memorial Day weekend 5yrs ago. My dad saw me in the subway as I was on my way to a street fair, so he gave me a ride home. He dropped me off at my apt, I told him I’d see him later. It was a Sat, I enjoyed the holiday weekend….
    He died on Tues, if I could go back an spend all day and nite with him Sat till that Tuesday.
    I don’t think another moment I ever have again in this life would be as valueable as spending that extra time-talking, laughing, hugging and kissing him.
    That I’m certain.
    Nothing else would I change.

  • Ray says:

    There are so many reasons I long for time travel to become a reality. So much of history I’d love to see for myself, so many things I could imagine doing. But if I could only take one trip, accomplish one thing? I’d go back and rescue Anne Frank, and if possible the rest of her family and those hiding with her.

    She was that remarkable, had that much potential as a writer, that I’d give up all the other things I’d love to do, just for the chance to know she was spared such an awful death, and to see her develop that potential.

  • Rae says:

    I wish I would have understood what that woman in the bar meant when she said, “For me, having money is freedom.” I would have gotten a financial planner at 22 instead of 30, and realized being an adult does not mean being in debt. I also would have gotten dreads in high school. But other than that, I think it’s better to build upon the things I know and have now than to regret the things I lost before I knew better.

  • Jarkko says:

    The temptation is there at least to abuse the time traveling to make myself set for life – like go back around 10 years and make a killing at poker tables, when game was ridiculously easy to beat for a lot of money. I could become a millionaire easily. That’s just an example I could think out of my thin air, probably everywhere there’s similar opportunities everywhere.

    Then again, getting success easy is shallow anyway. Guess I’d go back in time to when my woman was younger just so that I could meet her earlier and spare her from her crappy earlier relationship. Not to mention I could impact more positively in her life earlier. Start a family earlier too.

    Of course given that in this alternate reality scenario I’d now be set for life with a perfect partner, I’d now have time to devote for trying to avert some of the modern disasters for happening, like 9/11 etc. Now how to avert them is a whole different thing, but since I have money and relationships handled, I have time to think of it.

  • Tanner Colton says:

    Just let me quote the eternal Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite”:

    “You ever come across anything like time travel? Yeah. If coach would’ve put me in fourth quarter… we’d have been state champions, no doubt. No doubt in my mind. You better believe things would have been different. I’d have gone pro… in a heartbeat. I’d be makin’ millions of dollars and… livin’ in a… big ol’ mansion somewhere. You know, soakin’ it up in a hot tub with my soul mate.”

    Even though I love me some Uncle Rico I try not to live in the past. I kind of figure if I go back and change anything I might not end up here where I am and that would not be very good. The one thing I guess I would go back and do different would be to travel more when I was younger. I think world travel for young people can be more valuable than anything else. So I would have done that more. Oh, and won state too 🙂

  • Mark Sobel says:

    My motto when it comes to worrying about the future is ‘I never could have planned where I find myself today, and I will make it to tomorrow, next month, and next year in the same way”…it isn’t really meant to rhyme but I guess that does make it a little catchier! If I could go back, I would only do one simple, but resounding thing differently; I would say “yes” (or maybe a more existential “why the hell not?!”) to any and all times I said “no” in the face of fear and doubt. Change is always more terrifying and more gratifying than stagnation an I would like to go back and embrace all of the scary challenges, both personally dreamt up and externally offered, that I cowered away from so I could stay in my “comfort zone”. In thinking of how to change the past, the dilemma is two-fold: 1) Considering what should or could have been better only adds to amplify the idea that what actually “is” is lacking in comparison; and 2) Could a tiny positive change in the past lead to an all-encompassing negative changeover time? The idea of embracing change is great in that it requires no regret of past mistakes and no fear of future uncertainties. Just say”yes” and follow through.

  • Kelsie says:

    If I could go back anywhere in time I would say I would go back to when I was in college and pay for it myself, instead of taking out student loans and realize that I don’t need to choose a career pathway that is “safe” or that pleases my parents. I would learn to listen to my heart more and get outside of my comfort zone. College (and anytime in your life really) is a great time to make mistakes, jump outside of your comfort zone, and travel to foreign places. I would also remind myself to never let a day go by that I didn’t tell those close to me how much they mean to me. I’d also not worry about getting a job right out of school and instead follow my dream of starting my own company, traveling all over the world, and trusting myself that I could do it instead of staying in the comfort and security of a typical corporate entry level job.

  • Kathlyn says:

    I would do my best to make sure certain corporations never were started. Especially the ones who are destroying the environment and our food sources. I do not believe that everything happens for a reason because humans are free will and have the choice to do the right or wrong thing. Unless of course you count greed and corruption as a reason. I consider it a fault.

    If they had listened to the People (Native Americans) this country would be in a lot better shape and people would be happier.

  • Gary says:

    What are the most meaningful moments that we can have in our lives? Time spent with those we love. Money comes and goes, you can always make more. Success comes and goes. Careers will ebb and flow. Whether you start in the past or start in the future makes little difference.

    What is truly scarce is the relationships we hold dear. I was never able to meet my paternal grandfather. He died just as I was born. I regret it often.

    I would like to travel back in time to meet my grandfather and discover the man who made my father the great man he is today. I would ask him about his life and learn from his experiences. I would cherish another family member that I never had the opportunity to know.

  • Carl Melcher says:

    Instead of wasting all that time with video games during childhood,
    I wish I would have read more books….classics, and many other areas.
    Playing soccer and being more active in sports would have been nice too.
    Oh, and would have been nice to travel more since I only get two weeks of vacation each year in adulthood… 🙂 But I’m grateful I took a year off in College to live in Europe through the BUNAC program, got to see so much!

  • David says:

    I would go back to my freshman year of college (I’m a 5th year senior now) and redo it. I would give higher priority to getting better grades, but more importantly I would focus on building stronger friendships with both guys and girls. I would also spend more time growing in my walk with Christ, and less time getting wasted and not remembering what I did the night before.

  • Kristine says:

    I went to breakfast at a local restaurant this morning. In direct view across from me was a little blue-eyed blonde, about 4 years old. She was lovely, she could have been me. I saw how beautiful, innocent, lovable and alert she was. I would have loved to get to know her, ask her questions, find out what was going on. That younger version of me is who I would want to time travel to meet and know.

  • Malcolm says:

    Ideally, I wouldn’t try to change the past in any way, because that would be folly. I would, however, go back and talk to some of the great influencers of our world and learn from them directly. I don’t have a list of them, but I image it would include Socrates (to learn things beyond what Plato wrote down), Jesus (to learn things beyond what the disciples wrote down), and Shakespeare (to ensure he wasn’t actually Francis Bacon, as is alleged).

    In short, I wouldn’t use the time machine to change the past. I would use the time machine to change ME.

  • Si Hui says:

    I’d go back to before I lost my mum, and give her more hugs. I think it is one of the most important things I never did enough of after I hit my teenage years.

  • Matt says:

    Would not change a thing, we are shaped by our experiences good or bad. Living in the past will only keep you from being wholly in the present and the future. Never regret that which you cannot change, it will only hurt you.

  • Przemek M. says:

    If I could go back in time it would just be for sightseeing, learning about the past, visiting important moments in our history and seeing with my own eyes how the world looked before humans walked on it. But only if I was sure my presence would not affect the future in any way. Everything is connected, a seemingly innocuous act could change the future in an unpredictable way, “correcting” bad things in history could allow different bad things to happen. A responsibility no one could bear.

    And my own past? Don’t I think that maybe I could have done some things differently, could avoid disappointments, pain? Maybe I do, but that past, whatever it was, made me who I am today. It is not something that I would be willing to destroy. So – I’m comfortable with the thought that I wouldn’t change the past, what I can do though is redeem it, use the bad things along with the good ones to shape the future to reach yes, well… amor fati.

  • Ishana says:

    Strangely this question seems very apt to me at this time. I didn’t know my answer to it 2 minutes ago but I do now. There are a lot of things in my past that I feel regretful about and many that I still remember when I’m low. There are decisions that are neither right nor wrong, they’re just different. But each one of these things in my past made me the person that I am today. I would have been a different person had my past been different and I don’t know if I’d like that person and I am somewhat attached to the persona of myself, so letting go of it even in my mind is tough. The person that I am can not be quantified, people are like imaginary numbers, there exists no ‘greater than’ or ‘less than’ among them. All they can be is different. Going back and changing myself to another person will not make me better or worse. I’ll just be different and then I’ll have some other problems to worry about. The past matters; but not that much. And if you want something bad enough you will figure out a way to get there.

  • jimare says:

    1. Not start smoking. 2. Buy stock.

  • Ulla Lauridsen says:

    You bet! I would go back in time and do whatever it took to stop Buddy Holly from getting on that plane. That would do some good, because it was an isolated incident. Whoever would go back and force Hitlers mother to have an abortion doesn’t understand anything about history.

  • Alanna St. Laurent says:

    If I could go back in time as who I am now, I would go back in time to talk to my mother since she died when I was five, and I never really knew who she was as a person.

    I would also want to tell my high school self to not go into psychology but something more fun and creative. It would save years of being miserable working for other people.

    Otherwise, happy being who I am today doing photography full time 🙂

  • LisaL says:

    Historical: – Save Library of Alexandria so it was never burnt. Tell Cleo to spend more on copyists and sharing docs.
    – Convince Charlemagne not to have the Pope crown him or burn the Sacred Oak Groves.

    And yes, I’d go back to 1st grade and do better this time.

  • Sasha says:

    I would go back to my senior year of high school for a number of reasons. Firstly, I would tell my 17 year old self how important it is to eat healthy and exercise. It was around that age that I really stopped caring and ate horrible things all the time. Hello, freshman 25. Secondly, I would inform my 17 year old self not to major in pre-pharmacy (flunked my first semester), and I’d school myself in what I know about the Paleo diet and nutrition. I wish I would have realized my passion for nutrition before attending college and before graduating with a degree in English. Alas.

  • Clay Myers-Bowman says:

    There’s debate on this, but I think Shakespeare has had the biggest impact on arts and culture today. If I could get back, I’d go back and see experience the first few weeks of the first performances of Much Ado About Nothing. As a theatre geek I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling.

  • Patrick says:

    I would go back to last Thursday night so I could pay my phone bill on time.

  • Greg says:

    Although there are some but not too many things I would have done differently in my life I would like to get the biggest bang for my buck in this hypothetical exercise. I would go back and take out Hitler. 50 million people died in WWII. Maybe WWII would have happened anyway or maybe not. Maybe it would have been a cold war instead of one that killed more people than all previous wars…It just so happens I was reviewing some pics from a visit to Auschwitz before I read this post (because someone had requested some of my pics for something they were working on). It is probably the most depressing place I’ve ever been.

  • Shane Stranahan says:

    1) I would go back to the time when my grandmother was dying and I was too afraid of what she was going through and of what she thought of me to go in to the hospital and see her.

    I didn’t know then how much I loved her, and even now I don’t know how much I’ve lost.

    2) I would go back to the time right before I started my trip overseas (the trip where I hichhiked from England to Italy and hiked in the Alps) and I would begin writing a few months before I started.

    That trip would have made for a kick-ass travelogue, and I could have been generating loads of helpful advice.


    1) There are certain incredible people in our lives whom we have a limited time with. They are worth our attention.

    Our time together is limited. If somebody really matters, don’t let fear get in the way.

    2) What stopped me from blogging is what has always stopped me from doing anything worthwhile, (is what has always stopped people from doing the things that it always seems only a few can do,) namely:


    Fear gets in the way.

    Ignore it.

  • Brett Henley says:

    Wouldn’t change an inch, dust fleck, second, etc.

    Speed bumps and obstacles happen to ALL of us.

    How you navigate with intent – and accept that control is not an option – is all that matters.

  • Christine Marie says:

    There are many things that looking back I say I would have loved to have done differently, sometimes I even imagine how events would have turned out in another way if I had “gone for it” or done something differently in dozens of “shoulda, coulda, woulda” moments where I end up lost in the false dream of what could have been. Though for all those moments past and times where I dream of change, all the experiences (and lack there of) have brought me where I am today, a cliche perhaps but true. My past may have been less than spectacular and the present still needs tweaking but the place those events put me is a wonderful platform for change and something new.
    Live and learn, I am at terms with my past.

  • CBCastleberry says:

    The Altruistic Me would prevent Princip’s assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Could have saved a lot of lives if a World War and seeds of a second had never happened.

    The Selfish Me would invest the $5,000 I had in 1977 in Microsoft and Apple so I would now be the Rich Me.

    Just me would tell 18-year-old me that having fun could stand to be balanced with a little more effort.

  • Marie says:

    I would love to travel back to the late 80’s and see Queen and Guns n Roses in concert honestly, I’m still a little peeved I didn’t exist yet back then.

    I would not have let myself be pulled out of dance, no questions asked.
    I would have: Started swimming earlier.
    Talked to the people who I still dream about years after having met and lost them.
    Learn to be a proper healthy vegetarian and not to be so scared all the time.

  • Laurie says:

    I love time travel stories, but I’ve read enough of them to know that messing with the past always creates ripples that at the very least twist your brain cells, and at worst make things much more complicated…I’d rather have a way to teleport, so I could visit any place instantaneously. 🙂

    That said, there is one bit of history I’d love to visit…I’d love to go back in time and meet my great-great-great-great grandmother, a full-blood Cherokee who died on the Trail of Tears. Of all my ancestors, she is the one I am most curious about and would most love to spend time with.

  • Kimanzi Constable says:

    If I could go back in time I would warn myself to not take on a bunch of debt!! It has really held me back from true freedom.

  • Mike Sharp says:

    I would LOVE to go back in time with the knowledge and experience I have now; to fix relationships, to end things when they should’ve ended, or dedicated more of myself to projects and ideas.
    But then I would be a different person than who I am today, and others may not have learned what they know now because of MY mistakes.
    And since our futures aren’t written (of if they are, we don’t know them), I’d hate to go back and change ANYTHING and ruin someone ELSE’S possible bright future, even what I change in the past benefits everyone in the immediate time period.
    Everything is a learning experience, from birth to death, and the best thing we can do is learn from our mistakes AND our achievements and make the rest of our time the best we can.

    But if I HAD to choose, I’d go back and not eat that burrito for breakfast…

  • cindy says:

    the first thing that came to my mind was “change the kennedy and martin luther king assassinations”. the more popular reasons might seem the obvious ones (the loss of 3 great men who worked toward truth and freedom; the kennedy assassinations changed the course of history, from the US engagement in the vietnam war onward), but the real reason, when i dig deeper, is that that was the beginning of my disillusionment. i was 12 when JFK was assassinated, 15 when MLK was and followed a few months later by RFK, right in my city, a few blocks away from my home. the shock of these 3 brutal deaths of heroes of the people defined my life as well as the lives of all americans, perhaps all the world, even still.

    what do i take into my future from this? honestly, until this exercise, i never really grasped the affect these events played upon my, our, lives. one thing i know, if you’re here, in skin, you better make it count. stand up for something. do mot turn from conflict; engage in a peaceful but affirmative manner, asserting your rights and all human rights. it is no life to stand like a deer in the headlights; claim your space and bring joy and love forth!

  • Library Momma says:

    I’ve watched enought sci-fi shows to know that anyone who tries to change the past either a) can’t change it, no matter how hard they try or b) messes with the future (our present) quite a bit. But time paradoxes aside, I’d like to go back to the night my grandmother died and visit her. We had planned to but were busy and by the time we had a chance to see her, it was late. Then, at 2 a.m. we got a call saying she had died. I felt awful for months.

    I probably would like to change a few other things, too, like not marrying my first husband, having a different major in college, etc., and other things similar to what other people have mentioned. But if I changed anything in my past, I might not be married to the man I’m married to now, might not have the same career, might not have the same child. Since I’m happy with my present life, I wouldn’t change my past even if I could.

  • John Fotheringham says:

    Selfish Answer: I would go back to my infancy and surround my baby-self with multiple foreign languages (perhaps a Mandarin speaking nanny, some Japanese speaking friends, etc.) Learning as an adult has worked just fine, but there is something to be said for childhood language acquisition.

    Big Picture Answer: I would take a group of ninja bodyguards back to 1914 and stop the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria; the event which triggered World War I, which led to World War II, which precipitated The Korean War, The Cold War, The Vietnam War, and on, and on, and on…

  • Hiram says:

    I would go back and make sure I see the greatest marvels of the world in all their splendor. Mayan ruins, except they’re not ruins anymore (any”less”?). See the sphinx with a nose and travel on the Titanic (and travel back to the present on April 14th). Easter Island and see how the moai sculptures were carried away. I would also bring an iPod and speakers and blast some present day music and scare the hell out of them…just for fun.

  • Kelly says:

    I guess I’d probably just do something selfish like go back in time and invest like $100 in something that I knew would take off well and enjoy being a wealthy person today…

    Or maybe I would use it like a save game feature. Try something… see how it works out. Go back if I don’t like it. Try something else.

  • 2yoshimi says:

    I would come out much much earlier.

  • Erick Widman says:

    I’d go back a couple weeks to set my alarm earlier so I wouldn’t be on the waiting list for some awesome workshops coming up at the World Domination Summit! 😉

  • kate says:

    i don’t believe in living in the past. i don’t believe in letting regret follow me around, in imagining the myriad ways that things could be different, *if only that one thing changed…*. while it would be nice to go back and alter some of the more depressing aspects of my life [or of history in general], i feel like it’s a waste of energy to fantasize about things that even quantum physics says we can’t go back and fix.
    i would rather travel forward. forward, say, ten thousand years, to see the fruits of our innovations, the end result of all the wars and conflicts, to a world where we can’t place our individual impact, but can only see how our society has progressed together. will the darker parts of human nature play out, or will we do enough along the way to spare ourselves more suffering?
    then i’d come back to the present, comforted by the knowledge that my current trajectory is exactly what it needs to be, so that i can continue to take ownership of the present, just like i am now. 🙂

  • Kate says:

    I wouldn’t go back and change anything, because I believe we need to learn from history and avoid repeating the same mistakes, both in society and in our own lives. Being a history buff, though, it would be amazing to go back and experience certain time periods in history: parts of the Roman Empire, how Native Americans lived before immigrants came to North America, seeing how the Tartars lived, and hearing Abraham Lincoln in person. Thanks for the thought provoking question!

  • Sharon Knight says:

    This answer won’t be as deep or clever as some of these, but it is the most sincere for me right now – if I could go back in time, I would do exactly what I am doing now, but a lot sooner. I wish I had not given up on music and floundered around at other things I felt lukewarm about for 10 years. I believed that I couldn’t make a living as a musician, not really, and that I should act like a grown up, buy a house, get a real job – all that American Dream stuff that seems so empty now. Had I believed in myself more when I was younger, I would have saved a lot of years of depression, and I would be meeting the challenges of the road with more youth in my bones! ;+)

    That said, I am awfully thankful to have found the courage to go for it, because it’s actually working out! Better late then never!

  • Maria Vinciguerra says:

    Realize how perfectly imperfect I am. Realize earlier how many possibilities I had in my hands. However, life is unfolding as it should and it is never too late:)

  • Jonathan says:

    I’m 24 now. Of course I would love to see the dinosaurs, meet my Spanish ancestors in Palencia or explore North America in pristine pre-European conditions… But most of all I’d like to tell my 18 year old self to not be so scared of the world and relationships, save my pennies, go on a really long round-the-world trip, and become an entrepreneur at all costs.

    I think it would’ve really opened my eyes to the possibilities and I’d be years ahead of where I am now. Maybe my perception is skewed because entrepreneurship and having a location-independent lifestyle are all that I’m about right now but I think it’ll have a great effect long-term in my life if I keep pursuing these things.

  • De Payne says:

    If I could go back in time I would take my children to church so they would love God and be spending their eternity in Heaven, instead of wondering if they will become Saved before it is too late.

  • Beth Fenger says:

    Never regret anything because at one time, it was exactly what you wanted…

  • JoshuaHaderach says:

    I would use it to learn Ancient Greek and then go to the Library of Alexandria to see what is was really like and find the collected knowledge of the world before it was lost to the ages.

  • Jon says:

    I wish I had found out about “The Four Agreements” earlier. But life has to happen a certain way. We try so hard to “figure it out” when the truth is (from my point of view) there is nothing in life to figure out. What do you really want? With a clear understanding of what you want, or what you do not want, you gain a laser-like focus that will automatically guide you in that direction.

  • Sabrina says:

    I would tell my 16-year-old self to be more stubborn and independent and enrol in those overseas exchange programs regardless of what my parents said. But at the same time I would have to be honest with teenage me and point out to her how much they have given and done for her. And then tell her that 30-year-old Sabrina can travel as much as she wants without having to ask anyone! 🙂

  • Nikolaus says:

    I think living the present is a big enough adventure. No time for past and future… 😉

  • Adam says:

    Nothing to change .

    Now, I could say that I wished I would have dropped work / Life situations that weren’t working faster than I did, but because I didn’t let go quickly I learned lessons deeper and harder.

    Now I can iterate faster, plus I accept that Life can’t be controlled – good or bad, just roll with it.

  • Justin says:

    April 2002: I passed up an opportunity to study under a master who could have trained me for the life I have always wanted to live, and I did it because I didn’t believe in myself and felt like I wasn’t good enough. That decision, more than any other, has hobbled me ever since. This is the most important thing in my past I can think of to change. My path would be so much easier now, and the person who has meant the most to me might still be alive. This wish will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.

  • dawnalee says:

    It seems as if when the ability to time travel is offered there’s always the caveat to go back in time. Personally, I would go forward first to examine the long-term ramifications of choices already made, to see the great-great-grands and meet those I would otherwise know nothing about. The past is already part of me. I’d like to explore something new. :o)

  • Todd says:

    This is really one of the big questions which, if you can make the choice, frees you to so much opportunity.
    Science fiction has given us enough thought experiments to understand that moving back and tweaking anything, alters/destroys our current world.
    So everything that’s who you are is a result of those choices. Forward, boldly.

  • Erik says:

    If one can visualize the future then one’s future is the present and one’s present is the past. I spend most of my time in in the common man’s present, with very limited time in the common man’s past. This serves me well.

  • Mayank says:

    Assuming its not a one time option ie i could time travel more than once, i would like to do all the above, try and stop the nazis from doing all the cruelties they did towards the jews, let the captain of titanic of know they might hit a iceberg so be careful. all relive the happiest time of my life so far and change some stupid decisions i took which i wish i can change.

  • Nate says:

    I wouldn’t try to change the past-that way lies paradox, which I’d rather not have to think about-I’d just go back and watch some of the great concerts that happened before I was born/old enough to care

  • Jodie says:

    I used to wish I could go back in time to relive my whole life completely the opposite of what it was. I would have hugged my parents more, been less selfish, finished college, traveled, made more friends, had more fun, fallen in love, gotten married, had 2.2 kids, chose to be a happier person, and made a living by working my passions.

    But the reality of it is if I would have been able to go back in time (at the time I wished for it) I would never have ended up where I am today – with a beautiful 10 year old daughter – who gives me all the reasons in the world to live and to not want to change a thing, or ever wish to go back in time again.

  • Richard Howes says:

    I have enjoyed reading the responses. There are many (thousands) historical events, that if we could go back we could save lives. Hitler & Ferdinand are good choices. What about warning people of the tsunami in 2004, or convincing the two sides of the Crusades of the futility of their quests. Given the options, I think these answers are uninteresting.

    I’m skeptical of the responses of, “change nothing, look to the future”. Sure, its the enlightened answer, and shows the ‘right’ character. Again, I’m skeptical though. Really, there is nothing you would change?

    While I’d love to change some of histories tragedies, there are so many personal things I would change if I could. The degree I chose, the way I hurt my first fiancee when I called off our wedding, the debt I let the banks convince me to take for things I “needed”. I’d throw in several career choices and decisions to relocate.

    But if any of that cost me my family then I would change nothing. At 42, despite what I would like to change, I am grateful for my family (married 16 years with two wonderful kids). At least now in my more mature years I understand what’s important. Woudn’t want to be young and confused again 😉

  • Nicolas DORIER says:

    If I would go back in time I’ll continue what I am doing.
    My life is cool, I learn and grow more everyday, no regret even for my past failures that made me grow and made me less fearful.

  • Miriam says:

    1) See the world as it was in prehistoric times.

    2) Live in San Francisco in the 60’s, and Paris in the 20’s.

    3) Go back to when I was four and my parents divorced on very unfriendly terms, and give myself a huge, loving hug.

    4) Witness the birth of the universe. Wow!

    5) Come back home, because now is the best and only time we will ever have.

  • tasselflower (Mervi) says:

    There are two things that come to my mind first. They are pretty small things (not going to see Shakespeare plays or buy stocks), but big for me personally.

    1) I’d go back in time when my maternal grandfather was still alive and ask him about his life, his youth (when he was serving on a ship) and his adventures. He sounds like an interesting man, but there’s no one around anymore to know much details of his life.

    2) I’d go back to time when I was 13 to 14 and told myself not to take the bs from my schoolmates and to be more confident. They are just silly teens. If I would instead jump into being myself in that time, I’d just act more confident and make the others see they can’t bully me that easy.

  • jr cline says:

    I wouldn’t change a thing if I could go back. I’m not sure it would be possible or a good idea.
    I think it would be nice to visit times when the world was less developed and crowded with humans or maybe the future would be interesting.

  • Tim says:

    I would go back and encourage my parents to send me (or to be willing to send me) out of Singapore before I turn 12 to explore an alternative to the rigid educational system there that has stifled my creativity and passion for many things in life (like learning), and to be free from the gross violation of personal liberty that is conscription. In spite of every other negative experience in life there is for me I think the only thing that I would use time travel to change is forced military service; I like who I am otherwise.

  • Gerry says:

    I’d be heading to China to travel around the country with Joseph Needham in the 1940’s. China had lots to offer the world back then. I’m afraid that much of China was lost in the last 70 years.

  • Jordan says:

    “Sing me a song” Mr. Johnson said to me.
    But his haggard face, IV drip, and the way he used the IV post to keep upright scared me in a way I couldn’t describe when I was in the 5th grade.

    Mr. Johnson had been my principle for the first 3 years of my elementary school, and he was dying of lung cancer, despite never smoking. Our families would get together for dinners, we would bike to his house, and he even called me to the principal’s office a few times just to give me candy, the best thing in the world for a first grader.

    What I did then, is etched in my memory, I failed. I stammered, I didn’t sing a song, and I saw Mr. Johnson’s face fall, the joy at seeing me gone for a moment until he smiled as we said good bye. And I cannot count the times I wanted to go back and burst into the craziest song I could think of on the fly. Anything, as long as it would change his expression from one of dejection and pain into a smile, even if it lasted for only a moment, that was the one thing I could have done for him that I don’t think I will ever forget about.

    That’s what I would do with a trip to the past, and I wonder how such a small thing would change the rest of my life.

    – Jordan

  • Damyon Verbo says:

    Even if time travel were possible would memories remain? I believe it was “El Duce” who told a reporter,”Never look back, signore.”

  • Marisa says:

    I was fortunate enough to care for my father and my husband during their 2 1/2 year illnesses. They lived their life and faced their death so differently and they taught me so much. The more I am in the present moment and do my best to do things that give me joy, the less regret I have and the more joy I have to share with others. My father had a lot of regrets and he didn’t really do his art. My husband really loved his life and followed his heart. They both showed me what brings the greatest amount of joy, which is being in the present moment and following your heart’s desires. So as much as I might want to change the past, I feel grateful for all of the teacher’s who remind me to live as fully today as possible and to let go of my self-imposed limitations. And believe me, I need all the reminders I can get. So I am grateful!!!

  • Deep says:

    I would travel through and come back home. Then find another wormhole..become a time travel hacker 🙂

  • Steve Antony Williams says:

    Yes, I would go back. It’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact same moment “when” but I would alter certain things for a better future. It’s easy to say that we have “no regrets” but I have 3 major regrets in my life and they are all things which are impossible to change now I’m 47.

  • Anne says:

    I wouldn’t go back. If I HAD to do it over again, of course I’d do some things differently, but only because I have knowledge now that I didn’t have then. I have realized that the mistakes and lessons of my past are what have given me the knowledge and understanding I have today. I wouldn’t trade that knowledge for anything, because it makes me a better and happier person each and every day.

  • Paula says:

    I’m not sure…. looking back there are some things I regret, and times I would change….but then, isn’t that what life is all about? The challenges and ‘not so great’ experiences strengthen people and have led me to where I am now…..which is a great place, with wonderful people in my life, my family and a partner that never ceases to amaze me. Love and live life to the fullest is what I say :))

  • Joseph says:

    One year a go a could have lied with no external consequences, but I instead chose to tell the truth. As a consequence I lost a beautiful relationship. I would go back and change that:having seen the consequences of my truth. I would lie.

  • V says:

    I don’t think changing history works the way people wish it did. Killing one really evil guy isn’t going to stop a world war. Humans only ever do what they want, and given that there were two of them, humans wanted global warfare. Sometimes people fall down and hit the ground hard. Sometimes we do that collectively as a species.

    All the best growth periods of my life took place when I hit rock bottom; I think it works the same way with humanity. Pain, loss and shame are all parts of what makes life…life. Fear gives us something to conquer. Mistakes give us lessons to learn.

    I wouldn’t go back in time to change anything. I wouldn’t want to rob us all of our progress.

  • holgamaria says:

    I would change EVERYTHING

  • Le Webb says:

    If i could time travel i would go back in time and talk to my highly driven perfectionist teenage self. I would say that there will be life after competitive sport and winning isn’t everything. I would point out that you are not as fat as you think you are and in the scheme of things your dress size is not the be all and end all of who you are. I would advise to love those who accept you for who you are, forget those who don’t. But most importantly i would tell me not to be afraid of the future or failure as nobody knows what is around the corner, life is a journey – live it, love it, treasure it.

  • David Hamilton | Everlution says:

    For things I’d go back and do differently, they tend to be things that happened recently. I don’t fell like changing the far past will do any good, and really like your last option, of being responsible for the future…that’s rolling into the now!

  • christine jackson counelis says:

    I would not change the past, but I do miss it! I would grab the chance to spend another hour with my brother, aunt, mother and other dear ones. Just to tell them again how love remains and even grows with the passage of time. The thanks really are forever. As there are a couple of questions I thought we’d have forever to explore, I might seize the second chance to ask some of the silly stuff that now I’ll never solve. I prefer to keep the future unsearched. Change is magical enough without putting a thumb on the scales of chance. I’d try to add to the kindness in the world, but doing that is something I should remember to do every day.

  • Monique says:

    It’s tempting, of course, to say something like “I’d go back and kill Hitler before he became Chancellor.”

    But of course I would not be able to pull it off. Because if I could, then surely it would already have happened. Otherwise we would have the classic time travel paradox: I go back to kill Hitler, WWII never happens, the desire to kill Hitler no longer exists (“Adolf who?”) so I don’t go back to kill him, and so on.

    Even if we could change the past, how can I possibly know what the consequences of my tinkering would be? WWII had tragic consequences, but also provided powerful lessons that continue to affect our world today.

    The 30’s were unstable times. With no Hitler, maybe another megalomaniac with better strategic skills would have arisen. Or maybe without WWII’s lessons history would follow a different path that eventually killed twice as many people.

    If I could go back in time, I would not try to change the past.

  • Charl says:

    For me it wouldn’t be about changing things but rather about learning things. Go back in time and find out first hand what life was like in the trenches or in one of the great BC empires like Egypt or Greece. It would be about solving past mysteries and talking to powerful historic figures. Time travel’s greatest asset is knowledge, changing things will not always turn out the way you expect them to

  • Deborah says:

    I would tell Eve to enjoy paradise and resist the forbidden fruit!

  • Jessica says:

    I do not hesitate with this answer: I wouldn’t go back, especially if chances of altering the future were high. Yes, I’ve made my share of mistakes. Yes, I have things I probably should have done differently. But… every step I made in the past has made me the person I am today, and every decision I made has led to where I am today. I have an amazing life, every human and mistake-laden moment of it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

  • tommy says:

    I would strap myself into my Wayback machine and place huge bets on sporting events where I already knew the outcome.

  • Sam says:

    I would go back in time and pay more attention. I wouldn’t change things, but I’d just be more aware of what was going on around me. Maybe tell my younger self to lighten up and let people take pictures of me once in a while.

    I like things how they are. I can’t think of anything I could do that would change the world for the better and not have any adverse effects in some other way.

  • Lee Anne says:

    I would absolutely go back and change some decisions that I made…starting at 5 years old. I would like to say I’m an expanded enough individual to not WANT to go back, but I’m not and I would definitely do things differently based on the knowledge that I have now. Of course if said time travel were possible, I think most of us first ponder financial changes. Tommy says he would! But ultimately, I would want to start out younger with the confidence that I have now. I would say “No” to people and I would not falter with my dreams, or hesitate with my education, or relationships. I don’t know that it would change the course of my future irreparably, but to be able to have the innate tools that I have now as a human….that would be divine. I would go after all those dreams. Absolutely!

  • Annie says:

    I wouldn’t go back and change anything- cliche, but true, it has always been about the journey!

    However, if i were required to, i’d begin to love myself earlier. I’d realize that my life is totally based on my self talk and begin to tell myself how wonderful, loved, adored and capable i am a lot earlier. That has made all the difference in my life and having the opportunity to start even earlier would be so cool!

  • Joss Monzon says:

    I would go back and love more, give more, help more, learn more, do more

  • Tammy says:

    I would got back and pay attention to what was going on around me. I would not have caused my parents any heartache. I would be more invloved in school. I would not have followed the wrong people. Too late now, my current life is the result. All my doing.

  • Agota says:

    I have dreams sometimes that I’m in high school and I feel a relief in those dreams because I feel like I have a chance to do things right this time.

    I thought whether I would change something if I’d go back in time, but I bump into this:

    Obviously, it’s rarely possible that knowing what you know now you would do things the same way as you did years ago if you’d have to do it all over again, but..

    The reason why you have that knowledge that would allow you to make wiser choices is most likely the stupid mistakes you made a long the way.

    That means that it should be impossible to go back to high school and do everything right this time, because by doing so, I would prevent myself from making mistakes and gaining the knowledge that would allow me to go back and make those changes.

    I really hopes that makes sense.

    I’ve noticed how easy it is to see what the right thing was when the time for that already passed.

    What’s interesting is to imagine that you’re your older and wiser version from the future and you’re reliving your life now, since from this perspective, it’s easier to spot silly mistakes before you make them.

  • Nick says:

    I would go back in time and tell my younger self not to dwell on the past.

  • Sascha says:

    I would go back to the year 1989 in Germany. I would enjoy this year again with the fall of the “Mauer” at Berlin. Tear down all walls!

  • Ling says:

    I would either travel back linearly to when I was two and start listening to my intuition from there. Or travel to parallel realities in the past, current or future.

  • Steve says:

    I would definitly go back…it would just be too much fun to know what you know now when you were younger…it’s almost unimaginable the power you would have.

  • Austria travels says:

    The temptation would be so overwhelming… both to go back and stop some great tragedy and to go back and change something bad that happened to myself… If the first, I could not decide what to stop + it would change the life of so many people… If the second, I would not be the same person if I changed something big that shaped me.
    So I think I would not use the opportunity and no one should…

  • Mike says:

    I would’ve constantly been on the lookout for ways to be a producer instead of a consumer.

  • MICHELLE says:

    I would go back to every moment where I hesitated too long, or let other people’s worries drown out my own optimism in trying new experiences, and find a way indirectly to push my old self to follow her gut.

    Then I would travel the world to the right times to experience certain places, like discovering the Galapagos with Darwin, or going to New York when they finished the Brooklyn Bridge. I would see the Egyptian tombs before they were robbed of their treasures. I would enjoy a bath in Bath.

    I would go alone, to people watch and exult in their discoveries; and I would try to pay careful attention to how I might be changing as my history changes and catches up to my present self. I would learn from those changes, good or bad.

  • Bill says:

    I wouldn’t want to change anything at all about the past. I did make some bad decisions, but what’s already happened is done and should not be changed, even if it had negative effects. But I have very little memory of what the world was like when I was a kid, so I would like to travel back and see what it was like to be alive during my childhood. I wouldn’t even want to interact with people, I would just like to witness my past life and remember some things that I forgot over the years.

  • Harshita says:

    I would like to change the whole world and remove all the corruption from the country and remove all the bad people.

  • John says:

    You have to be careful as any time from 1150-1699 you would be pursued as a demon or witch. IT would be very hard to blend in unless you are an expert historian. Prior to that and after you should be ok with modern knowledge and maybe clothing.

    I personally would go to the beginning of Hitler’s regime in the late 1930s and help them out a bit. I would trade my knowledge of the war for a spot as a general in the Reich. I would try to get the focus off pursuit of Jews and help them with war mistakes such as fighting on multiple fronts. I would ally Russia to help conquer Europe and then I would turn on them in the summer. I would have agents to kidnap Einstein from the US to delay the bomb and have Germany complete it first. Then when Hitler is out of the picture I will take over and run 3 quarters of the world. I would be fair and stern as a leader.

    Prior to the 1930s… I would help the confederacy win the American civil war. The CSA would be my brainchild. It would be a whole different America today, but still a great one and I think much better.

    Anything before that would be quite a challenge.

  • Paul says:

    I would go back and convince the child to be honest with his parents about everything. They are such good people, and would have helped earlier. Just be honest. That’s all.

  • Mahsa says:

    If I could go back in time, i would never try any relationship with my boyfriend. i would deleted him from my facebook at first and never get know him.

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  • Ajin says:

    i will do things that no one can even imagine…

  • Greg L says:

    I would go back and change only two things. I would never get married and never have any children. ( This only makes sense to me but it’s exactly what I would do. )

  • Terri says:

    If I could go back in time I would not even have to go back very long ago. Like alot of the other people who commented on this I don’t believe a whole lot of energy should be wasted on the past but there is one thing that I wish that I could’ve done and that is ask my Gran questions about EVERYTHING and record the entire conversation”s”. She passed in January 2012 and I will never hear her voice again. Ever… So to all you out there who might happen upon this simple comment about going back in time and changing shit PLEASE please please understand that the best way for any of us to go back in time I’d to speak to a grandparent or an uncle or any elder of your family. But if your grandmother is still alive START ASKING QUESTIONS and RECORD HER ANSWERS. Even if it’s just the audio… will love to hear her voice. Trust me…..

  • Paul says:

    Well i would certainly love to go back in time when Most of the good old fashioned women were around which it would’ve been much Easier for me finding love in those days since the women were so much different than today which now so many women over these years are so very high maintenance, independent, selfish, spoiled, greedy, picky, and very money hungry which the women of years ago were Never like that at all since i could’ve been all settled down by now with a Good wife and family instead of still being a single guy today. What a difference it would’ve been for me than today.

  • Liam says:

    I think If I had the chance to go back in time I would probably go back to when I was about 14 which was ironically when this article was created haha I was in my first year of high school and from that time period so many opportunities passed me by relationships, trips etc… mostly I feel bad about the part that I didn’t enjoy school while I was there I was so desperate for it to finish and for me to move on with me life that I didn’t take a moment to sit back and enjoy it. I guess those reasons why are are look at my life from about 14-16 with a lot regret. Now I’m 18 I realise that life was so good then you get to spend every day with you’re friends with the only real worry on where to have you’re lunch, what you’re plans are after school and homework. Whereas as soon as soon as you leave school you’re no longer treated as a child with no responsibility you’re shunted into the adult world where you suddenly are treated like a adult and have so much expected of you and honestly there would be nothing that would make me happier to go back 3-4 years and tell myself: 1.) Enjoy you’re school days there the best years of you’re life 2.) Don’t be in a hurry to leave take a moment to appreciate the people in you’re life and be happy 3.) Take advantage of you’re opportunities in life don’t be scared to ask girls out or talk to them because you never know they might like you back don’t be scared of “what if” because the phrase “what could have been” is much more scary and depressing.

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