“You’re gonna regret that!”
“Don’t do anything you’ll regret!”
Our whole lives we are taught to avoid regret. But the truth is, regret is something we will and should do. As it turns out, regret is inevitable, but also deeply important to our growth.
Daniel Pink, the New York Times bestselling author, recently released the book The Power of Regret: How Looking Back Moves Us Forward and spoke about it on the podcast Practice of the Practice. His approach to regret is transformative and go well beyond his background in politics and government.
After an extensive study on the content of people’s regret, he learned to categorize regrets by area instead of domain. Those areas are:
This type of regret encompasses small decisions that ultimately lead to bad outcomes. Choosing to smoke, not putting in the work, or failing our lofty weight loss goals. Looking back and thinking “I should have…” can feel like time lost, but instead it can be motivation to start now.
Boldness regrets are about the risks we didn’t take. Passing on an experience, whether it be the opportunity the live abroad, pursuing a dream career, or asking out a crush, these “what if I had…” thoughts weigh heavily on our minds. If this is your regret, instead of wallowing, use it to embolden your braver side and dive into the next opportunity.
Whether you were the class bully, behaved poorly for your parents, or you did something particularly hurtful, moral regrets can be particularly painful. It can be even more so if the victim of your behavior is no longer around to receive an apology. However, these regrets can teach us to be better in future interactions and give pause before doing something that causes pain.
A connection regret is likely something you may be feeling right now, as many of us let go of relationships through what seems like endless months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We wish we’d stayed in touch, but for whatever reason, life got in the way and time got away from us. Regrets tell us to take the chance and reach out. After all, wouldn’t you feel good if that person reached out to you?
The biggest takeaway is that regrets ultimately make us better humans. Regrets cause hurt, but they also instruct, teaching us what really matters to us and deepening our sense of meaning and purpose. When we regret a poor performance, a poor decision, or a poor behavior and choose to learn from it, we work harder to improve.
by Amanda Cornaglia, LGCP Intern