“I wish I had…”
At one point or another, everyone has spoken this phrase. Regret is described as the feeling of sadness or disappointment, often due to a lost opportunity. In some situations, regret is the result of a previous decision that we no longer respect or condone.
To go through life completely free of regrets is a challenging goal. We cannot always predict the unforeseen circumstances that result in altered paths. However, we can teach ourselves to confront our regrets by remaining rational and optimistic. We learn to look forward instead of behind.
Avoid Making Excuses To Minimize Regrets
A conducted survey asked individuals to rank their biggest regrets in life. The outcome of the survey yielded that on average, people regretted their educational path the most. However, it is almost never too late to receive an education. Online classes, community colleges, or re-enrolling in a nearby university are all potential options.
We tell ourselves that we’re waiting for the “right” time to go back to school, travel, fall in love, or achieve our goals. Truthfully, there’s never going to be the “perfect” moment we’re hoping for. By pushing off the things we really want, we increase our number of regrets, and shorten the list of potential accomplishments.
If you already have regrets, are you sure it’s too late?
Don’t assume that the consequences of your actions are permanent. Ask yourself, is it really too late? Did you burn a bridge with someone you cared about? Or did you not pursue the dream job you wanted?
Whatever opportunity you think you missed, is not necessarily gone forever. Money or current responsibilities are common factors that cause regretful thinking. However, if you cannot accomplish your goal in this moment, keep in mind that the opportunity may resurface during the future.
You Cannot Take Advantage of Every Opportunity
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s too late to fix our mistakes. So what should we do when our regrets cannot be remedied?
We remind ourselves that there’s nothing wrong with regretting a few things. We live in a world that offers so many amazing opportunities, it’s impossible to take advantage of everything thrown our way.
Instead of asking yourself, “Why did I miss that opportunity?” Ask yourself, “What did I miss that opportunity for?” Perhaps the reason we missed an opportunity had nothing to do with laziness or incompetence. Instead, we may have pushed aside a chance, in order to take full advantage of another opportunity that came our way.
Move Forward by (occasionally) looking behind
It’s important to occasionally reflect on previous decisions to understand our progress and potential. Constantly dwelling in the past won’t help our current happiness. There will always be another course of action we should of taken, a trip we didn’t go on, or a social gathering we never went to.
We should use our disappointment as a source of motivation. While we cannot always change the outcome of previous experiences, we do have the power to discontinue behaviors resulting in future regrets.
Don’t start sentences with “I wish I had..”
Instead, start asking yourself, “What can I do next?”
Copyright: Stuart Miles