Is there such a thing as actionable regret (regretting an action)? The… I wish I hadn’t done that, but I’m glad I did kind of regret that provides lessons you might not have learned otherwise. The kind where you do not have to wonder if it was the right one; the outcome let’s you know. Think about, the now 45 year-old who no longer drinks and drives because of an OWI as a 21 year-old. An absolute regretful decision at the time, but also an eventual lesson learned avoiding a potential horrific future incident. Of course the picture being painted is common sense to most; I mean, it is against the law. The point is we make poor decisions every day and we likely regret a good number of them. For some it is hopeful to think we learn and do not repeat, and for others it might take us a couple trips to get there. I think we all know somebody like that.
If you’ve ever heard someone say, or you have said this yourself… My only regret is not beginning sooner, or I wish I had started 10 years ago… then you know. You also understand this can be related to many things, saving for retirement, starting an exercise program, paying more attention to nutrition; really anything that provided a positive outcome fits here. The point is we can sometimes learn by not doing almost as much as we learn by doing. Meaning, we didn’t do something for an extended period of time, but once we began we almost immediately regretted not starting sooner.
Here’s a story to provide some context. A little over 10 years ago a good friend incessantly wanted me to start this workout thing they had been doing. I would always listen to what they were doing, but also always declined. They were doing something that didn’t fit with the mediocre bodybuilding stuff I had been doing since forever. But, as with many things in life, my curiosity got the best of me, so I began doing my own research. What I was finding was a bit intriguing, yet still, not my cup of tea. So, instead of jumping right in I began incorporating one day per week in order to test out this “new” method on a much smaller scale. The end result was…. I wish I had started 10 years ago!
The lesson here is a question. How many things have we NOT done because it didn’t fit into your current way of thinking? My presumption is a lot! My advice is simple. When someone brings something to you, instead of immediately shooting it down, open your mind and do your own research. However, if the conversation begins with something like.. You have to check out what I’m doing now or I’ve come across this great opportunity and I think you would excel at it… run away, and fast! I’ve traveled this road enough to need new tires, causing massive amounts of painful regret; however, tons of learning opportunities. This isn’t about multilevel marketing…. Kind of a bad example, what we are trying to say is we need to work our ways off the close-minded bus and open ourselves up to the many things we may be depriving ourselves of. We all are guilty of this in some capacity.
We won’t try because we might fail, or we are scared, or it doesn’t fit a particular agenda. As time goes on we begin to understand that regret is part of it, my contention is that it can be one of the best means of motivation and inspiration available. I’m not sure about you, but I’d much rather regret the choices I made versus the ones I didn’t.
The old adage live and learn speaks volumes, but only if we actually do the live part.
Actionable regret, I think I made this term up to make, lessons, sound cooler.