7 Steps To Extracting Growth From Regrets
And preventing regrets from hindering your flight path!
I consider regrets as signals to revisit a mistake, an event in the past that needs to be examined further or rectified. Regrets often grow with time and if unresolved, can lead to significant mental and emotional stress.
I share below 7 steps to dealing with regrets and finding a personal growth opportunity instead of drowning in the lamentations of the past.
Step #1: Know what regret is
Before we go deeper, lets establish that regrets are only born in the past (a time and place not in our control) and we make the choice to carry and nurture them in the present (a time and place very much in our control).
One general category of regrets may include not taking more risks in personal life and work as we reexamine our history, not capitalizing on our chances to make more money, not pursuing a relationship we felt was better for us, not pursuing knowledge and education the way we could have or not realizing the true opportunity cost of our inaction or insufficient action. To fuel regret further, we often compare ourselves to others who did all that we didn’t do or for whom fate dealt better cards. Resentment and jealousy catalyze regrets.
Another category of regrets may include making poor and harmful choices including hurting someone socially, financially, emotionally or even physically or allowing someone to hurt us in similar ways.
Regrets, regardless of the category, therefore, become the price of making choices, which includes the choice of not making a choice.
As humans, we make mistakes and avoid making mistakes. Decision-making is a complex process since it involves multiple and fickle variables. But whatever decision we made in the past, resulted form certain information we had at a certain point in time under certain circumstances creating the perception of certain risks. We had to decide and we did.
Feelings of guilt, shame, anger, remorse, all have been and will be born out of our choices. The same applies to the sense of well-being, confidence, fulfillment, satisfaction, etc. Having established that regret is a realization of a miscalculation of forecast versus reality and dependent on our will and set of choices, we now can move on to step #2.
Step #2: What, What & Why
Conduct a self-audit by going back in time and to the best of your abilities list down what transpired, what were the consequences and why do you regret it. For example, I was recently informed by a young man I am mentoring that he regretted moving to the capital from his hometown to start a business and his life had spiraled downward since that decision.
He shared his feedback as follows:
What transpired? Moved to the capital from hometown 3 years ago to start a small retail business using my own funds and some financial support from family — my wife stayed back with my parents.
What were the consequences? Business failed and stress on marriage rose along with conflict with parents.
Why do you regret? The venture’s cost was across health, money and relationships. I paid too big a price!
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