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.
I’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.
We 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 three things you would most regret not doing in your lifetime. Of these, which would be the biggest?
Now name one small thing you can do today – not tomorrow, not next week or next year, but today – to help prevent your biggest regret from occurring.
Finally, take a moment to post it either in the Facebook comment section, or scroll down for the general comments area. Just by putting your regret and your intention into words is itself a powerful first step!
And, if one of your three utmost regrets is spending your life in a soul-sucking job, I have good news.
As I write this, scores of your fellow change seekers from across the US, Canada, and Europe have signed on for the fast approaching Virtual Weekend Retreat.
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 Wednesday February 3, 2016.
But don’t wait too long, because after that the price DOUBLES.
Spending twice as much money is not the worse regret in life. But wouldn’t it be nice to instead use the money you’ll save in the service of your dream?
Can’t Make the 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 still receive a complete set of the 30+ page 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, don’t worry about what will happen if you fail. If you must fret at all, worry about how much you have to lose if you never even try.