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  • Gladys Agwai

How you can make regret productive!

“Don’t live your life regretting tomorrow. Live your life so tomorrow you won’t regret today.”-Catherine Pulsifer



Regret is one of the most common negative emotions that people feel in their daily lives. It is that sinking, nagging feeling you get when you realize you have made the wrong choice, or when things have not gone the way, you hoped or imagined they would. Regret keeps you looking back on the past and what you are missing keeping you stuck rather than moving forward in your life, business, or career. You want to move forward but instead you indulge in self-shame believing your humanness is not enough. You refuse to accept that mistakes are a part of life. You are thinking about how things might have been different if you had only made a different choice. You become overwhelmed focusing on things you cannot control versus what you can control with focus on your good choices. Social media has made it worse as too many people compare their lives to the “perfect” lives of others, i.e., how they look, lifestyle, career, or relationship. How would your life be different if you had made a “different choice”? Because you have an abundance of choices, you experience more regret than in the past. To be more successful, you must change your perspective, attitude, and actions about regret.


Your feelings of regret remind you to think carefully about your decisions and helps you to not repeat the same mistakes. You also learn about yourself gaining clarity about what you really want or do not want to help you to be better in the future. Author James Joyce said, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” There are several common regrets experienced by most people, such as, opportunities that are missed, not optimising their time, accomplishing too little, doing work they do not like, procrastinating, keeping bad habits, not mastering another language or skill, entering and staying in bad relationships, or making mistakes in a past relationship. The choices you make today will determine your regrets not only today but ten years from now. Here are some choices you want to avoid ensuring a better future:


• Not Taking Charge of Your Life: waiting for permission, a lucky break, or to be chosen, letting others choose for you, making excuses, staying in your comfort zone, waiting to be picked,

• Financial Instability: too much debt, not saving, investing or increasing your income, giving more than you have out of ego, financial illiteracy, not seeking help.

• Giving in to Fear: not asking for a promotion, a raise, or the sale, avoid competing, ending or beginning relationships, giving up too soon.

• Not Taking Care of Your Health: unhealthy diet, too sedentary, smoking, substance abuse.

• Not Spending Quality Time with Loved Ones: taking everyone for granted, avoiding your friends, not being present for milestone occasions.

• Postponing Your Joy: waiting until you achieve certain goals, focusing on what is missing, waiting for the perfect time.

• Not Being a Continuous Learner: closing skill gaps, keeping abreast of industry and technology trends, being bilingual, ignoring online learning.

• Keeping Grudges: blaming others, being angry, unforgiving.

• Not Pursuing Your Passion: settling for a job you do not like, lack of perseverance, will not take risks, not finding time to know what you are passionate about.

• Choosing to Conform: blending in, following other people’s rules versus your own, not trying new things.


What makes regret bad is when you do not use the lessons it gives you or when you choose to keep suffering from it. You cannot rewind time. You cannot go back and fix it. See regret as a clue and cue to acknowledge your flaws in your decision making and to do what you must change for the better. You will never control the consequences of your choices. However, you can make regret productive! Accept that regret is a natural human emotion and do not regret feeling regret. What are you going to change today, or tomorrow to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life? Will your future be impacted by the regret you carry today or your future attitudes, behaviors, and actions? It will depend on the choices you make today! Do not make ones you will regret and if you do, learn the lessons to live your best life.


“A regret is simply a mistake we have not learned the proper lesson from yet.”-Mark Manson


Article Written By Gladys Agwai:


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