Working Through Regret

Regret is a tricky thing. On one hand our past shapes who we are and we all learn from our mistakes. On the other hand there are dreams, opportunities I wished I had taken advantage of in the past.

Here are some of my past regrets:

  • I regret not standing up for people in middle school and high school. I have these flashes of anger when I think about some of my peers messing with our high school freshman P.E. teacher. She was an older woman that had no control of the classroom dealing with a bunch of kids going through puberty. I wanted to stand up for her, but didn't have the balls to do it at the time. Sometimes I think about her and have these stories of going back in time to tell the 6-7 kids that were messing with her to stop and they try to punk me and then 15 others in that class come by my side to defend her as well and then we go at it West Side Story style, without the knife stuff. 
  • I regret being a bully at times in my younger years. On the opposite end of the spectrum I was an angry young man at times and treated people with less than the respect they deserved. This one is hard to talk about and I have done my best to reach out to the people I have wronged to say I'm sorry. However, there may be people I have still wronged that I have not said I'm sorry to. My public apology today is that I am sorry I took out my insecurities and anger out on you and I strive every day to be a better human being to not repeat the same mistakes. 
  • I regret not taking advantage of my youth. The older generation will laugh at this one because I am only 34 years old at the time of writing this. Not old at all, but it's that strange thing where I tell myself if I knew what I knew now back when I was 20 years old, things would be different! This is especially true with sports. If I knew what I knew now when I was 20 years old playing basketball we may have won the Intramural championship back in college!

To resolve my past regrets, I realize that there is nothing I can do but be a better human being today and moving forward in my everyday interactions with people and loved ones (although I still fall short many times). I also realize that living in the present moment and being the best human being today and enjoying each moment will prevent me from having some regrets but regrets will still come up from time to time because I am human. 

Now let's take a look at future regret prevention. This quote has been on my mind for the past few days:

When I read this quote it made me think about regret in a whole different light. 

Combining the above quote and Stephen Covey's #2 "habit" from "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" which is "begin with the end in mind", I realized how I must deal with not having future regrets.

I realized in order to prevent more regret from coming up I need to flash forward in my life and think about my life as let's say a 50 year old or 60 year old. Covey takes it even further and asks his readers to write their own eulogy at their funeral to see what kind of person you want to be remembered as. I knew I didn't want to be a bitter Ah Jah Shee (Korean for older man), that is angry at the world, hating my life and regretting the things I didn't take chances on. I want to be a kind, humble, empathetic, human being that is imperfect but tries my best to treat others well.

This flash forward principle also applies not only to who I want to be as a man, but also from a career/business standpoint.  I remember at my last sales job I was sitting around the table with my co-workers talking about sales commission splits. If we reached a certain amount of closed sales each month we would get an extra .25% or .5% or even up to 1% additional commission. I flashed forward 20 years and realized I did not want to be in the sales industry anymore. There is nothing wrong with the sales industry or even the company I was with, it was the best company I had ever worked for. However I realized being in the sales industry was not my personal calling.

I knew there was more for me and so I did that something more when I quit my job to start this entrepreneurial journey to take a chance on my dreams. I didn't want to live with regret thinking about the things I didn't do like the Mark Twain quote above. 

There is always time to take a chance in your life and follow your dreams. I believe in you all so freakin much. I get it that there are things we have to be practical about like bills to pay, spouses and kid's mouths to feed, but there are ways to make it work.   

How do you resolve your regrets? Please share below in the "comments" section. 


Here is a youtube video about the topic of regret: