Waste No More Time on Regrets

Regret is a negative cognitive or emotional state that involves blaming ourselves for a bad outcome, feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been, or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made. 

There is a song written by Paul Anka and sung by Frank Sinatra called “My Way.” I used to listen to the song but never took the words to heart. One day I did, and it caused me to pause and, as my former pastor would say, “put it on the lines of your mind and let the Holy Ghost blow on it.”

Regrets, I’ve had a few.

But then again, too few to mention

I did what I had to do.

And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each chartered course.

Each careful step along the byway

But more, much more than this.

I did it my way.

He took control of his life and did it his way. Is it possible to do it our way? We can sit in doubt and let regret have its way or believe and chart the course.

It is unavoidable that we are going to experience regrets. There was a study on gender differences in dealing with regrets. It showed the “increased value that women put on relationships and how women may have more difficulty disengaging attention from past relationships. Overall, 44 percent of women surveyed in one study had romantic regrets, versus just 19 percent of men.”

“Cornell University surveyed hundreds of participants through six studies, describing the differences between the ought and ideal selves, asking them to list and categorize their regrets based on these descriptions. When asked to list their regrets in life so far, more than half mentioned more ideal-self regrets than ought-self regrets. And when asked to name their single biggest regret in life, 76 percent of participants mentioned a regret about not fulfilling their ideal self.”


What are some antidotes to get to our ideal selves?

  • Most People think they need inspiration: Not true, as the Nike commercial, “Just Do It.” It is challenging but also rewarding. It is a slow process, but rewarding. 
  • Don’t let lack determine your Ideal Selves: I have to be careful about this. Most people say that they either don’t have money or time. When I step outside of myself and look for creative ways to make things happen, it can happen.

When I completed my first year of college, my parents told me that they didn’t have the money to help me finish. I cried on my porch, devastated by the news. A friend happened to call, and I told him about the situation. He told me to stop crying and find a way. That advice changed my life. I called my college and spoke to someone, and they told me what I needed to do. I went to work, and guess what? I finished college. I was the first in my immediate family to attend college and graduate. I am sure we all have stories that have changed the trajectory of our lives. What we put our minds to, we can do.

  • Courage: Do it Afraid: I have made courage one of my core values. To succeed in the plans that I have laid out, it will take quite a bit of courage.
  • Ask for What You Need: The worse thing that can happen is they say no. I am learning it is okay to ask for what I need. I give myself permission.
  • Connect to a Community or Network: Yes, we can’t do it alone. Whatever we want in life, somebody is possibly already doing it. Seek out the resources that can help you accomplish what you desire.

Call to Action

Start today by embracing one of the suggestions and practicing it daily. Please share the results I want to hear from you. Also, share with others.