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The Biggest Regret of All May Surprise You

The Biggest Regret of All May Surprise You

Regrets are an inevitable part of life. Fortunately not all regrets are created equal.

Some regrets are minor.

You regret buying those too tight shoes just because they were on sale….

Or picking up the phone as you were trying to leave the office….

Or ordering the fish when everyone in your party is raving about the pasta.

The good news?

Regrets like these (often referred to as “First World problems”) are ones we can learn from and hopefully, minimize the chance of repeating.

Utmost regrets, on the other hand, are more problematic because the consequences are so much bigger.

Utmost regrets, are also more difficult – and sadly, sometimes even impossible to reverse.

worryI’m referring to the kinds of things you’d absolutely hate to know would one day be etched on your headstone.

Vivian could have been a great writer, if she’d tried.

Sam could have changed a lot of lives, if he’d had the courage to act on his idea.

Ordering the fish is one thing. Bailing on your dream of helping unadoptable kids or entering a writing contest is quite another.

Elizabeth Berg learned a lot about dreams. However, she learned even more about regrets while working as a nurse with terminally ill people.

In an article titled, Dreams Are Not Enough, the award-winning novelist wrote movingly about how not pursuing our dreams may be the riskiest move of all.

It is a lesson she learned from those whose time had almost run out.

Those dying people I cared for believed, as most of us do, that they would have time for everything. So they put things off… Then suddenly their days were almost gone. They were out of the time they thought they would have forever. And while I bathed them, they stared out the window and talked about what they had missed. They might say, ‘I always wanted to see Hawaii, but… I don’t know. I never did.’ The sense of regret was so strong that we both ached. I wanted to lift those people up out of bed, put them in a wheelchair, and take them to the airport. ‘Hawaii, please,’ I wanted to tell the ticket agent.

Everyone has dreams, sadly far too often they get put on hold.

Asking, and then answering her own question, Berg writes:

“What happens to our dreams? They die of lack of nourishment, that’s what. ‘Later,’ we say, and when we turn around, they’re gone.”

The Worry Factor

According to many of the 1,200 elders who took part in Cornell University’s Legacy Project, there is a powerful link between regret about the past and worry in the present.

When asked what they most regret when they look back on their lives, the answer most often given was they wished they hadn’t worried so much.

The way 102-year-old Eleanor sees it,

You just can’t go on worrying all the time because it destroys you and your life, really…. You have to put it out of your mind as much as you can at the time. It’s a good idea to plan ahead if possible, but you can’t always do that because things don’t always happen the way you were hoping. So the most important thing is one day at a time.

And 87-year-old James Huang agrees…

Why? I ask myself. What possible difference did it make that I kept my mind on every little thing that might go wrong? When I realized that it made no difference at all, I experienced a freedom that’s hard to describe.

The thing that takes a lot of people by surprise is this.

regretnothingWe waste our lives worrying about the “unknown risks” that change can bring, when in reality we should be more scared of the known risk of spending the rest of lives in the same place we are today.

If we fail to at least try to create the life we really want, we risk making good on Benjamin Disraeli’s often quoted prediction that “most people die with their music still locked up inside them.”

The sudden loss of my mother at just 61 totally changed how I viewed time (we can choose how we use it), money (things work out), and life (it’s all too short).

I won’t lie. Walking away from a good job with good benefits was – and still is – not without risk.

Yet I knew that the real risk was looking back at my life and saying, “I was miserable; but at least I had a good dental plan.”

What Will You Most Regret?

Take a moment now to choose the THREE things you would most regret not doing in your lifetime.

Now name one small thing you can do today – not tomorrow, not next week or next year, but today – to help prevent this utmost regret from occurring.

I invite you to post it either in the Facebook comment section, or scroll down for the general comments area.

If one of your three utmost regrets is spending your life in a soul-sucking job, I have good news.

As I write this, 108 of your fellow change seekers from six countries and 32 states have signed on for the fast approaching Work @ What You Love Virtual Weekend Workshop.


If you share the dream of finding your calling and a way to make money doing it in order to live a life where you get to calls the shots, then don’t worry…

You still have time to join us. The Early Bird 96% SAVINGS ends Tuesday, January 20th.

But don’t wait too long, because after midnight January 20th, the price DOUBLES.

Spending twice as much money is not the worse regret in life. But wouldn’t it be nice to invest the money you’ll save in the service of your dream?

Can’t Make the January 24-25 Dates?

No problem. You can still get access to the Work @ What You Love Roadmap.

For a limited time you can pre-order recordings of the entire 2-day workshop. That way you won’t miss a thing. Plus you can take the class on your own schedule and pace — and retake it as often as you like.

To make sure you get maximum value from the replay, you’ll also receive a complete set of the Work @ What You Love handouts.

Whether you join us live or you take the Work @ What You Love workshop on your own schedule… remember this:

When you go to bed tonight, try not worrying about what will happen if you fail. Instead worry about what you have to lose by not ever trying.

There are 17 comments. Add yours.

  1. Thanks. I needed that. I have no real excuse to not do. All my base bills are paid and then some bt my SS check. I have a studio/office at home and yet I paint sporadically (when I do, I sell but still put it off). I write and publish sporadically. I want to do more and yet I procrastinate. Can’t pinpoint why. Working on it.

    • We all procrastinate Perle even when its something we actually enjoy doing. Are you signed up for Work @ What You Love? I’m going to be talking about solutions. People need your art!

  2. Sandra

    Yes! Im tired of my lack of persuing my dreams. Procrastinating! Love to write songs, and wanting to write plays. The 9 to 5 for 25 years is coming to an end. The children are grown with their own families no more excuses. Time to get busy. Age not an option. Thank you Valerie!

  3. Marsha Lenox

    Staying in my old administrative job for as long as I did is my utmost regret.
    In March 2014 I quit that soul-sucking job without really knowing what I would do instead. I just knew that I couldn’t stick it out for 10 more years – the time it would take to retire with health benefits – in a job that was so out of alignment with my values. Staying in that job for 13 years seemed to drained the passion I’d had for anything. I’m finally on to something and taking baby steps toward it. I’d love to participate in the virtual workshop, but I’ll be out of town (and out of pocket) for at least half of it.

  4. Marsha — SO excited that you now have idea! (At least that’s what I think you’re saying.)

    FYI the entire Work @ What You Love workshop is recorded. As of today just under half (52 of the now 110 people who’ve registered, opted to get the recordings. I’m seriously considering carving out another weekend to have this group take the class simultaneously with select times during the day to log in for live [email protected] with me.

    IS that something you think would work for you?


  5. Pat

    No regrets here, I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 so I live life one day at a time and enjoy every minute of each day. I applied for a pattend for my design am waiting for the approved pattend to get the product on the market.

    • Wow that is SO cool about your patent Pat! That’s no easy task. Good for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Sandi

    This is beautifully written and SO true – thank you for giving voice to what I have been experiencing!

    I actually just left a soul-sucking job with good benefits and am in transition to living a life of my own design. My biggest fear was that I would lose disability insurance coverage (I’m not as afraid of dying as I am of surviving and being unable to take care of myself) — but I realized that staying in the stressful job was more than likely going to ensure that I would indeed become disabled at some point from all the stress-induced illness that are so common when we are unhappy and unfulfilled.

    So…. I was staying in a job that would most likely either kill or disable me — just so that I could have life and disability insurance??? That’s nuts! Once I figured out that it was a no-win situation, I pulled the plug on that sick logic and took the leap into my new adventure. SO exciting to know that whatever happens, at least I made the choice from freedom instead of fear.

    • I love this line Sandi: “SO exciting to know that whatever happens, at least I made the choice from freedom instead of fear.” That alone will inspire a lot of other people to act. Thank you!

  7. Sandi

    Oh – and I did sign up for your workshop next weekend – so looking forward to meeting everyone and getting fired up for this new chapter of life! 🙂

    • Woo-Hoo! I’ll “see” you there Sandi!

  8. Michele

    Wow, I am impressed with those that have quit their work because it did not fulfill them, stressed and unhappy. My question is how do you do that when you have bills, a young family, etc. and your income is necessary to your family survival? I would love to participate in this workshop but finances are tight and have other financial priorities.

  9. Susan

    All the responses have been great and many mirror the feelings that I have and had. Yesterday I attended a local networking meeting and announced to the group that I was going to get my “virtual shop” up by the end of February. As I put it, “I have now announced it – so now I have to “put up or shut up”!” I am very excited about doing this and, of course, apprehensive, but I am moving along step by step and trying to keep that voice in my head from discouraging me. And now I have announced it to you, Valerie, and the rest of the Changing Course network. Keep good thoughts for me!!

  10. julie

    I relate all these comments I will be out of pocket next weekend and really need live as I purchase program then by myself not doing them to the lack of time ever I still work at a full time job with money and insurance needed how to get any better than that what else is possiblewhat here that I have not yet considered? Hmmm

  11. Ann

    Being at work is a drag, and yet I believe in my dreams. I don’t know where to start, what to do, but I do believe I will make enough or lots of money with my interests and passions. I draw amazing without art classes, I cook amazing without culinary arts and I am the happiest around animals and love to rescue all of them from suffering and abuse.

    • LOVE your determination Ann! Your gifts will take you far — IF you are willing to take action.


A New Direction

I decided to take the Work @ What You Love Workshop and also work one-on-one with Valerie. The workshop explored so many unusual and unexpected solutions to my specific questions. I made so many new connections to what clearly works for me in crea...

Julia Raymond
Curvology Studio

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