“What would have been” is easy to imagine. It’s everything that we don’t have but we want, glazed with the syrup of optimism and a flare of fiction.
“What will be” is also easy to imagine. It’s everything that hasn’t happened yet but will inevitably become pending our next actionable step, permeated with the grating texture of reality and a hint of truth.
The past perfect tense is exactly what it is – it’s perfect. But “what would have been” is not quite past perfect. It’s actually past conditional perfect tense. Conditional because we should have made that perfect decision in the past, but now it exists only in the imagination.
“What will be” is a simple future tense. It looks ahead with a prediction of the near future. It’s not quite “what will have been.” The future perfect is a little far ahead, a little scant on realism.
Simple future isn’t necessarily better or worse than the past perfect conditional or the future perfect. However, it is different, and we sometimes think too little about it. So next time you found yourself looking back and thinking down a bifurcation towards a fictional future, it might be worth asking yourself “what’s the next actionable step, and am I willing to take it?” It brings out the real you.