This morning, I wrestled with a jar of herring that turned nasty brownish yellow, the color of an unloved oil painting decomposing in a hot, stuffy attic. After studying its contents, I returned the offensive jar to the refrigerator, shoving it to the recesses. Then I moved the jar behind several other items -- out of sight, out of mind.
Except it wasn't.
In my mind's eye, I kept revisiting that awful ooze. Finally, I grabbed the jar and flung it into the outside garbage bin.
Why had I not jettisoned it immediately? The answer hit me with a disgusting feeling as if the jar of herring had exploded on me: regret.
I regretted opening the jar shortly prior to a long trip, knowing the contents wouldn't last. I regretted eating directly from the jar -- perhaps the herring would have lasted longer had I scooped my portion into a separate bowl. I regretted purchasing such a large jar -- I lost any savings by pitching most of its contents. Most of all, I regretted the lost opportunity of enjoying the deliciousness of my beloved herring.
I reviewed other regrets that regularly creep into my thoughts. Ones I also shove into the recesses of my mind, only to return stinking, oozing, unlovable. Most of these regrets involve missed opportunities, some I should have embraced and some over which I had no control -- missed because life constantly changes and sometimes does not take me along on its ride.
Regret wields great power. Regret is purely negative. Regret is painful with no redeeming qualities. Without action, nothing positive comes from regret, and regret will cling to and drain you.
Time management principles teach us single handling: addressing or touching incoming communications only once. Similarly, we can avoid never-ending ruminations by addressing our regrets in these finalizing ways:
1. BE PROACTIVE
What can you do to rectify the situation now?
Do you need to:
Have a conversation?
Stop hosting a toxic individual or situation?
We forget how much control we have over our lives. Wield that power!
2. EMBRACE LIFE'S LESSONS
What did you learn about yourself?
Engage in some quality introspection:
What need were you trying to fulfill at the time?
Do you fear missing out ("FOMO") and regularly feel lost or forgotten?
Are you risk averse and thereby create voids in your life, rather than work towards goals and fulfill your needs and desires?
What will you do differently next time?
Failure is the cost of an education, leading to increased knowledge, understanding, and growth. Some teachings suggest that challenges are gifts -- opportunities for personal development and ultimately progress.
3. LET IT GO
Do you regret a situation where you had no control?
Choose to take responsibility -- or not.
Resolve the problem with those involved or let it go. Why cling to anger and resentment, when often those responsible don't know or don't care? These lingering regrets resemble swallowing poison to kill others -- you won't achieve your goal and you will experience pain in the process.
How to address regret?
Here's my way:
Embrace Life's Lessons
Let it Go
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