Good decisions are hard to come by. I often meet people after they’ve made a bad decision. I’ve learned about regret by talking to hundreds of people who regret their past.
Occasionally people come to see me BEFORE the decision. They realize the weight of the situation at hand and want all the input they can get. Wise people.
I’ve made my share of bad decisions but I made a good one last week…to drop everything to visit my siblings after my mother’s death (the memorial is not for a month). It required leaving work for two days (I’m already buried in work after being gone for two weeks) but it was the right thing to do. It was very important for my family’s grieving process. If I hadn’t done that I would have regretted it in the future.
That decision got me thinking about regret and decision-making in general. There are some decisions that you can wait on. But other decisions require your full attention and the ability to act on them before the window of opportunity closes. How you respond in that moment determines if you will be celebrating or kicking yourself later on.
Given those two polar opposites here are seven ideas to help you regret proof your life.
Seven Keys to Regret Proof Your Life
- Be present. This means to clue into THIS moment mentally and not be thinking about your past or your future. THIS MOMENT requires your attention if you want to have a good future and a no regret past. There is a quote in the Bible that says that the men of Issachar were wise because they understood their times. They knew what to do because they were tuned into the moment. It’s important to discern when opportunities or threats need your attention and take action.
- Anticipate. To help you be present it’s important to identify those moments in advance so they don’t catch you by surprise. I find it helpful to take time to be quiet, reflect and pray asking God to show me those moments that need my attention. A few years ago I recognized that my mom was slowing slipping away. I decided to visit her more and be ready to drop everything so I could be near her in the end. That’s what happened and I have great memories now of my mom in her last days. Anticipate these key moments in your life and the lives of your loved ones so you can be there and say the right thing in the moment.
- Ask yourself…will I ever have this moment again? Some opportunities only come once. When that reality hits your radar you need to sit up and take note. It’s not time to hesitate. It’s not time to procrastinate. I only have one opportunity to grieve my mother. I will either do it well or not. If I’m not cued into the NOW then I will most likely have regret. There are many moments when you only have once chance to say the right thing; one chance to make the sale, one chance to comfort a hurting friend, one chance to say good-bye. Don’t miss the moment.
- Ask yourself…will I regret not taking action? Last week I could have easily pooh-poohed the idea of visiting my family. I was swamped at work. But I asked myself…will I regret this in the future? The answer was a big “yes”. I knew I’d look back and kick myself saying…What were you thinking? Was work really THAT important? More important than grieving well and connecting with family?
- Prepare for the moment. We often get paralyzed and procrastinate in the moment because we don’t know what to say or do. We feel inadequate so we freeze. This always amazes me because there is almost always SOMEONE who can help you. But don’t just ask anyone. Ask people for advice who have shown success in what you are questioning. When I have financial questions I ask people who have managed their money well. When I have parenting questions I ask a friend who has done a great job raising his kids.
- Get input from the Bible. There is so much good advice in the Bible. Unfortunately, many people never crack it open. Even if you don’t believe in God the Bible is a time-tested book of wisdom telling us what kind of decisions succeed and fail. Check out the book of Proverbs.
- Pull the trigger. After you’ve anticipated, prepared and are present then take action. Do or say the right thing. Don’t equivocate.
My dad had a saying…you gotta be thinking all the time. What that means is that I need to be present. I need to be aware of my surroundings…the opportunities and threats in all walks of life. I can’t afford to be lazy mentally or I’ll pay for it. I’ll regret.
Many people have complained to me that their life has been one bad thing after another. What’s often true is that they made one bad decision (or non-decision) after another. Good decisions will change your life. There are many “one-time” decisions that relate to finances, relationships, sex, career and more. You don’t want to be led by your emotions or peer pressure or your busy schedule. That only leads to regret. This post is my simple attempt at helping you on the FRONT side of your decisions and not the BACK side.
Question: What are some things that have led to regret or saved you from regret? Leave your comment below and “share the knowledge” by clicking the links below. Thanks.