You may think I’m being a smart ass with this title, but I’m not.
Every day you make choices. Each choice has consequences. Some consequences are “good” and some “bad.” Consequences can’t be avoided – every action has a reaction.
While intuitively you know this – you may not appreciate that Regret is a common consequence. I see it all the time. Sometimes the regret is instant, but other times it festers and grows for years.
There is something terribly sad about regret. Think about it – regret is always historical. It only occurs after the fact. Consequently, when experienced, it is too late to change. If you get stuck in or filled with regret – your resources (time, energy, effort, emotion) are directed backwards – toward that which you can’t change!
Regret comes in all sizes and shapes. There is the “mini-regret” when you find yourself in a major traffic jam and think “Ugh! Why didn’t I take the back roads.” Similarly, you look at your spouse’s dinner selection and think “I should have ordered the salmon – it looks amazing!”
That stuff’s easy. It’s regret with a very small “r”. Unfortunately, there are bigger “R’s” out there as well. I have a friend who chose to “stay together for the kids” and is now a sad, bitter 54 year old woman with many regrets over her lost decades.
My goal is that you recognize the strategies you select to deal with life/career can create regrets. I understand you don’t purposefully try to acquire regrets, but these strategies result in “regrets” as a consequence.
Review these 7 strategies. Which are you guilty of?
- Gut it out/Suck it up – this starts honorably enough – you don’t want to complain or be ungrateful – consequently, you suck it up. You think if you can just hunker-down and endure, it has to get better. Could be a job, marriage or health concern or just nagging disappointment.
2. Ignore/Deny – “I’m fine – who said I wasn’t?” This is the ostrich in the sand – you do everything in your power to ignore and deny the battle and dialogue inside your head. If you just keep saying everything is good maybe it will get better or you’ll forget it isn’t what you want.
3. Bury – If you manage to stay busy enough or distracted, any thoughts of disappointment or dissatisfaction stay buried in your subconscious. You fill your calendar and head with so much, that the “other” thoughts don’t bubble to the surface or make an appearance. Keep pushing it down is your strategy.
4. Rationalize/Justify – You have a reason for every aspect of your life/career that isn’t the way you’d really like it to be. The economy isn’t strong enough to change jobs, your boss is too stressed to ask for a raise, your kids are too busy to find time for a date night. The list is long.
5. Blame – It isn’t your fault your life/career is the way it is! You have a bad boss, your spouse doesn’t listen, your kids are crazy, others demand too much of you, you never had a chance to go to college, the stock market robbed you of your retirement. It is easy to find someone or something to blame for your circumstances.
6. Postpone/Delay – You’ll make a change, but you need a little more time. Once things calm down will be a better time to take action. Why rush things? You can still do it later – it doesn’t make sense to add stress at this point in time.
7. Avoid – What you don’t see you don’t have to address. There are many tasks, duties and/or distractions you can find to avoid dealing with difficult issues. You could take years if you get really good at this and never have to look your dilemma in the eye.
Master any of these 7 strategies and you are on your way toward a regret-filled existence!
Why would anyone deliberately choose these strategies? Simple – it’s easier. Just remember, while seemingly easy today – you pay the dividend later. Choices have consequences!
Do the Work:
Take an honest and critical look at the strategies you use when life/career doesn’t progress as desired. If you see the above – find the inner strength to break the pattern and choose a different strategy. It isn’t easier, but you’ll like the results in the long run.