A person is not old until their regrets take the place of their dreams. —Proverb
I can’t even count the number of times a client has come into my office reciting all of their missed opportunities as the reason their businesses are not larger, more profitable, or just more enjoyable. Interestingly many of these people have achieved some level of success to the outside world, but theirs minds are often filled with regret about “how much better” it could have been. Many of my clients’ stories revolve around a venture they did not partner in that is now very profitable, a product that they chose not to develop or didn’t think of, or that they should have expanded their technology or sales ability to be more competitive in the current market.
What is so interesting about their stories of regret is that they never have any setbacks or challenges. The story about their road not taken is smooth and flawless, while the story of their life in their current business is often filled with complaints and regrets. Often these clients believe that they missed one of their “big chances” in life, and it causes them a lot of suffering. I call this type of suffering being stuck in a Reverse Maybe. These clients are re-writing a story about what might have been if they had pursued another avenue in their businesses, but they really have no idea what their businesses or lives would have looked like if they had gone that direction.
Sure, they might have been successful, but maybe these other avenues would have been disappointing or stressful in other ways. They might have partnered in a venture and not got along with other investors making it very difficult. They may have expanded to another product line or technology and ran out of capital. We will never know. The twists and turns of that decision might have taken them to other, unexpected places and maybe not for the better at all. All they really know is that everything in their lives has brought them to this moment with the ability to expand and grow their businesses from this point on.
Here are some tips you can use to help resolve your regrets and be able to move forward with your business, work choices or personal life with less suffering and more joy and hope for new opportunities.
1. Identify a few experiences from the past that still make you feel regretful, unhappy or hopeless.
2. Ask yourself the following questions: “Am I absolutely certain that things would be better today if I had made a different decision during that experience?” “How do I know that it wouldn’t have caused me other problems or an outcome I do not want?”
3. Try to acknowledge that Maybe the decision you regret would not have turned out better had you taken a different course, may not have been better for reasons that you can’t even imagine today.
4. In this moment, call to mind the things about your life that you most enjoy and cherish. Have you accomplished things that you are proud of? Do you have personal and business relationships that are meaningful to you? Would they all be in your life today had you made another decision besides the one you are regretting? Maybe your accomplishments or the things you cherish most in your life are with you in the present because of the decisions that you have made.
5. Regardless how you think life would have turned out, repeat the following to yourself: “Within this moment I let go of my regret and embrace the hope that Maybe I can create the life/business I want from this day forward.”
Letting go of regret is like taking a thirty pound bag you are carrying everywhere off your shoulders. It allows you to accept where you are today with more peace and freedom and dream as big as you want for your future!
For all you know, Maybe the best is yet to come!