Regret is a universal concept in everyone’s life. The less regrets you have, the more quality experiences your life contains.
You can regret many different things. Not doing something, not saying something or not being a certain way are all popular ones.
Regret is a powerful feeling and living with it can significantly impact your mental health and drive you insane.
Below is an excerpt from a Goalcast video, featuring speaker Richard Mulholland, called “How To Not Live With Regrets.”
“Imagine sitting there 60 years later regretting something that you didn’t do … It’s inconceivable to me – I find that regret is a real problem that we’re all going to have to atone for. And I find that every single time you say, ‘no, no, you’re right, you’re right,’ and you don’t do something, what you do is you’re writing out a check made to regret. And that check you’re writing to regret; you will have to pay it one day.
One day you will sit there with your grandkids, and you’ll have to sit in thought and ask forgiveness for yourself for all the things you didn’t try. It’s far better to live with the regret of the mistakes you have made than to die with the regret of never having tried.
So, you actually have to try. Yesterday would have been easier. Tomorrow will be harder. There is no waiting. It’s not going to get easier when your kids finish school. It’s never going to get cheaper; it’s never going to feel like it’s making more sense. You do it, and you do it now.”
The meaning behind these words is strong and motivational. Doing your best to avoid regret will ensure a happier transition as you get older in life. More importantly, while you’re still physically and mentally able to do more things, do them now and pack your life full of action.
One thing is for certain: it’s much better to live with the regret of trying and failing, rather than living with the regret of never trying.
Living with regret of not trying
The worst possible regret to have is that of not trying. If you have an idea, a goal or a dream, and you don’t pursue it, chances are you will end up regretting your decision. It’s the classic saying of, “you won’t know if you don’t try.”
You could end up disliking something and figuring out that it isn’t for you. However, if you don’t go through with it and actually attempt it, you will never know. The thought in your head will still be one of excitement and hope, rather than the assurance that it is or isn’t for you.
Don’t live life wondering what it could’ve been like if you had done things differently. Once you do it, you can adapt and grow in the new circumstances. If you don’t do it, you remain stagnant and stay the same.
You may be okay with that in the moment, but years down the road, you will begin to wonder why you didn’t just do it. This thought can haunt you.
For example, maybe you’re deciding whether or not you want to quit your job and change your career. This is a very difficult decision.
If you are truly unhappy in your career, and if your mental health is affected, you may be pondering change. Yet, financial concerns and the idea of completely restarting are daunting factors.
This decision comes down to what’s worse: being forced to figure out how to adapt to a new career and find happiness in change, or being stuck in the same unhappy state and living the same way for the foreseeable future, while growing older and regretting not making a change years ago.
It’s a heavy decision, but if you’re able to figure it out now, you won’t have any regrets later.
If something feels right to you and you have the urge to do it, you should. Because all of those “what ifs” that cross your mind when evaluating the situation are nothing compared to the potential regret of never having tried it.
Living with regret of trying and failing
This regret is much easier to stomach. If you try something, you’ll know if it was right for you.
If it doesn’t turn out well, it might make you regret ever doing it in the first place.
But ask yourself – what if I hadn’t tried? I’d still be wondering what the result would be, coming up with hundreds of different outcomes in my head that I now know are unrealistic.
The result may be unfortunate, but what’s more unfortunate is not knowing. You can always overcome a tough outcome and transform it into a learning experience and a springboard into something better.
And if the result is everything you had hoped for, then making that decision to take action might become a total life-changer.
The other factor is that if you decide to do something in the moment, you’re the one who made that decision. And in that moment, it seemed like the best option to you. So, you did it.
It’s easier to deal with regret if you know this to be true because at the time, you made the call that you felt was the best for you. If it didn’t work out, it’s unfortunate, but you tried, and you learned from that decision.
For this reason, go after what you want to do if you are sure in that moment. No one can predict the future, but it’s much better to take action than sit around wondering.
The Wrap Up
The last thing you want to do is grow older and regret what you didn’t try when you were younger. And the fact is, every day you’re getting older. Actually, every second you’re getting older.
If you determine that you really want to do something, make it happen. Do it. Don’t let time pass by and cause you to become stuck in the wonder of potential. Create reality out of the potential.
There isn’t a better time than now. Do what you want to do. Say what you want to say. Be who you want to be. Don’t live with the regret of never trying.
“I’d rather regret doing something than not doing something.”