Lost opportunities & regret

A wise man once told me, we don’t regret the things we do, we regret the things we don’t do.

This is so true.  Think back on your life and your regrets. Most, if not all of them, have to do with lost opportunities.  I try to live my life without regret. I don’t always succeed and I do have a few regrets in my life, as I think we all do. So it’s probably better to say I try to minimize my regrets.

The problem we all have is how to not dwell on the past and all those lost opportunities.  How do we continue living in the present and moving forward despite the fact we have regrets?  As with everything, I take a reality based approach. I accept the regret. I missed an opportunity. I can’t go back in time. No amount of wishful thinking will make that happen. And really – even if I could – would I really want to?

I am now 50 years old. I have a lot of paths I didn’t take that I occasionally wonder about.  What I do know is that at the moment, I like where I am. All those “lost opportunities” brought me to my present. If I had taken that job in Japan, I would have never met my husband or had my son for instance.

The reality is that all our choices have costs associated with them. We chose one thing and not another. All the time. Even when the choice is what we are going to eat for dinner. Or are we going to wash our hands after using the bathroom. We make big choices and little choices all the time. Every choice you make negates a different choice. Sometimes you can go back and change your mind and sometimes you can’t. But this is the reality we find ourselves in. Our choices have consequences. At the end of the day, the best that any of us can do is try to make choices that will maximize the good and minimize the harm. And we won’t always succeed.

I find that doing the best I can to make good decisions helps free me of the guilt that comes with the opportunities I have lost through those choices. Because that’s what our grief about lost opportunities is. Guilt. Maybe if we had made a different choice things would be different. Maybe they would and maybe they wouldn't. The reality is we have no real way of knowing.

To help me assuage my guilt I rely on a quote.  “All I can ever do at any time is what I think is right.”  I don’t need to feel guilt for doing what I thought at the time was the right thing to do.

I hope this helps.  If you want to learn more about how to make good life decisions - check out my online course - Planning for Personal Success - https://humanistlearning.com/planforpersonalsuccess/

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