Are you living with regret? Have you done things in the past you wish you’ve done differently?
Do these thoughts sound familiar to you:
- How I wish I hadn’t broken up with him…
- What a bad decision that was…
- If only I had spent more time with my kids…
- Now it’s too late…
Regret is a sad and negative emotion. Even though we know we can’t change the past, it still pulls at our heartstrings.
If we don’t know how to deal with regret in positive ways, it can negatively affect the rest of our lives. It can be extremely difficult to move on in life when we spend our time regretting the past.
The good news is that there are things you can do to help prevent regret in the first place. If you should find yourself feeling regretful, there are also ways to overcome those feelings. You’ll find plenty of tips in this eBook to help you live a regret-free life.
Let your Priorities Guide You
One of the best ways to make decisions you won’t regret is to let your priorities guide you. Whenever you’re faced with a decision, big or small, determine which option fits best with what’s most important to you in the big picture.
The option that’s most closely in alignment with your priorities, beliefs, and values will likely be the best decision for YOU.
The key words are: best decision for you.
Someone else may choose a different option, but you don’t need to worry about what others think is the best – their opinion comes from their own wants and needs.
If you choose what’s best for someone else, you will be the one who regrets it. But if you choose according to your own priorities, regret is rarely a result. When you use this strategy to make decisions, it makes living with your decisions a whole lot easier!
Even if things don’t go exactly as you planned, you can still be confident that you made the right decision for you based on your own life needs.
How to Determine your Priorities
Many times a decision is complicated by several factors that you might consider important. Of course, each option leans a different way, which causes confusion and uncertainty. So then, what do you do?
Follow this 3-step strategy to cut out the confusion, discover your priorities, and make decisions you can trust:
1. Reflect. Think about what’s most important to you and write them down.
- Your spouse, family, and other loved ones
- Your faith
- Your dreams and goals
- Your ethics and morals
- Your health
- Your work
- Other things of importance to you
2. Arrange. Put them in order with the most important items at the top.
- Some of your most important priorities will change at different times in your life. For example, if you’re going to college to get a degree, completing your education may be more important than your part-time job during this time. However, when you’re the sole provider for your family, your job is one of your top priorities.
3. Refer to your priority list when making choices. Gear your decisions toward the option that provides the most advantages for the items at the top of your list whenever possible. Go with the decision that aids the higher priority over the lower one.
- For example, when you’re faced with a choice between picking up junk food on the way home from work, or taking an extra 20 minutes to make something healthy at home, choose the healthier option. While it means a little more time to cook something healthy, your health is always one of your top priorities!
- Things like going for a walk with your kids become easy choices because this activity satisfies two priorities: your health and spending quality time with your kids.
You’ll rarely regret making choices according to your higher priorities. On the other hand, if you should give into the feeling of the moment – like when you want junk food or would rather take a nap than spend time with your family – there may be times in the future when you regret these poor decisions.
Live by the Golden Rule
Another good way to prevent poor choices that lead to regret is to live by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Treating others with the same thoughtfulness that you’d like to receive yourself keeps you from doing or saying inconsiderate things that you’ll be sorry about later.
Get in the habit of following this rule in everything you do. When you have a disagreement with someone, you’re more likely to search for a solution that benefits both of you, rather than resorting to anger or personal attacks. When this happens, no one wins!
When you take the Golden Rule to heart, not only will you prevent regret, but you’ll also find that people tend to reciprocate your kindness, making your life more enjoyable all around!
A lot of times, what we regret isn’t so much what we did, but what we didn’t do. Establishing an action-oriented mindset will strengthen your decision skills, too, because your new mindset will help you make decisions that encourage action!
Focus on making the right decision based on your priorities, then trust yourself to do what needs to be done to make your decision a reality. This level of trust will boost your confidence and enable you to achieve your goals with ease.
Here are some tips to help you develop an action-oriented mindset:
1. Avoid procrastination. When you put off doing something you know you should do, it’ll only increase the anxiety and tension in the hours leading up to the inevitable deadline. You’ll regret dilly dallying unless you make it a habit to handle your tasks appropriately.
- If you’re putting off telling someone something, just take a deep breath and begin. If you start the conversation with pleasantries, it may help you ease into what you have to say.
- If you’re procrastinating on a project, just getting started is often the only thing that holds you back. Start with something easy so you can build the momentum you need to move forward, faster than ever.
- If you’re not taking action because a task is too difficult, divide the task into small, easily achievable mini-goals. Once you do, you’ll have a reasonable plan and you’ll be less likely to get overwhelmed.
2. Plan your work and work your plan. Keep a planner and make a daily to-do list. Refer to your list often and cross out your tasks as you complete them so you can see yourself making progress all day long.
- Make your schedule flexible enough to give yourself time to handle unexpected distractions. Practice immediately taking care of the things that come up and then getting quickly back to your list.
3. Seek solutions to your challenges. So often we let an obstacle in our path stop us from pursuing the life we desire, only to regret it later. With an action-oriented mindset, challenges are only bumps in the road. When a challenge arises, immediately start looking for viable ways around it, then take action to continue toward your goal.
Take Advantage of Opportunities
Are you always “out” when opportunity comes knocking? Learning to recognize good opportunities and taking advantage of them right away can also prevent regret. How many times have you berated yourself for missing a window of opportunity?
One of the best – and simplest – ways to help yourself recognize valuable new ideas is to keep an open mind. Listen to other people’s ideas and then apply them to your own situation. Ask yourself if there’s a way you can use this idea to bring you closer to your goals or make your life better.
Just recognizing the opportunity, however, is not enough. Be sure to use your new action-oriented mindset to take immediate action. If you spend too long simply thinking about it, your window is likely to close. Carpe Diem! Seize the day!
Make Good Memories
You can avoid a lot of regret simply by living on purpose! What does that mean? It means that you choose a life of joy, then actively pursue that life. Spend your time making the memories that you want to have!
Would you rather have memories of work, boredom and wasting away your life – or joyful memories of cherished time with your spouse and kids? Would you rather fill your mind with memories of sit-com reruns – or lively times pursuing your dreams?
Surely no one has ever gone to their grave wishing that they had spent more time working or watching TV! These are simply not the things that matter the most when you look back on your life.
The secret to avoiding regret is to do what matters most.
What do you want to do in your life? Do you want to travel? Then do what it takes to bring in the extra income to pay for it! Do you want to be multi-lingual? Then start learning another language today!
In other words, take action to create the life you want. Don’t spend your time bemoaning your current situation and wishing for more. Do something every day to bring the life you desire into your present and exhibit the qualities you desire. Sooner than you realize, your dreams will become your reality, and you’ll have thoroughly enjoyed the journey, too!
Eliminating Past Regrets
When you harbor resentment about the past, it only hurts you. Nothing good comes from regret or the negative emotions that go along with it.
Here are some techniques that can help you overcome your feelings of regret:
- Let bygones be bygones. Things that happened in the past cannot be changed, no matter how hard we try, or how much time we spend wishing that they had happened differently. If there is a way to make amends, do it, then move on with your life. Focus on your present, look forward to your future, and leave the past in the past.
- Live in the moment. When you live in the moment, you are fully focused on the now. You feel the pleasures, sensations, and joys of this moment and appreciate all of them. The more you practice this technique, the more you can tune out everything and embrace this moment. Your days are a parade of moments, so you should fully live each one of them, one at a time.
- Use affirmations. Affirmations can help you change your mindset from feeling sad about the past to accepting it so you can live a more joyful life. They’re positive statements that you can repeat to yourself every time a regretful thought presents itself.
- Here are some examples of affirmations:
- I let go of my regret to make room for joy.
- I am happy with who I am now and look forward to a joyous future.
- I live each day with gratitude for the precious gift of life.
4. Meditate. Meditation helps you envision your life without regret. When meditating, feel the good feelings of a care-free life. Breathe in freshness and breathe out regret. See the negative feelings dissipate in the clear air around you – gone forever, never to return!
A life free from regret is a joyful life indeed!
Strive to use these strategies and techniques to keep regret from raising its ugly head in your path so you can enjoy your journey. It’s going to be a wild and wonderful ride!