Regret is something we all experience. Every action we take in life, every decision we make, is like a tree with endless branches. Each word we say and choice we make travels our life down one branch, and then down another, and another. But it is always in our nature to look back and wonder, “What if?”. What if we didn’t say that thing, or drive to that place, or take that job? How different would our lives be?
The problem with this line of thinking is the impossibility to it. There is not (as of yet) any way to go back in time and try again. No way to turn back the clock and give a choice another go, and try to see where a different branch on the tree to life leads. No one has any illusions that this were a possibility, yet we still mull over and overthink past decisions and what could have been. But instead of now saying how futile this act of human nature is, I am rather coming to realize it has more use as a motivator.
Stay with me here. You see, we know we can never return to the past and get a second chance at things. And we should also all know that every moment that goes by is part of our past. What we are doing right now, in this very instance, this will be history the second it unfolds. And understanding that should push us to conquer our fear of regret now, in the moment. You see, if you choose to use your fear of having regrets as motivation to make decisions in the here and now, you will actually have less regrets in the future. I know it sounds like circular logic, but I am holding fast to it. If you act now, – if you put aside fears, anxiety, other peoples opinions, and anything else holding you back – then in the future you can avoid looking back and wondering what could have been. Because you went for it. You tried it. You moved there. You said it. You lived without regrets, in spite of your fear of regrets.
For a long time now I have looked back and been hung up on “what if“‘s. What if I hadn’t transferred colleges? What if I hadn’t enlisted in the Marine Corps? What if I never got out of the military, or came back to college? What if I never met her, or him, or them? But these are things I can not change, things I can not go back and undo or try another path with. I regret not having finished college when I should have. I regret not traveling more when I had the chance, or going to that one event, or trying that one sport. But instead of dwelling on those regrets, I choose to use them to fuel a new life and a new mindset.
So take that chance. Say yes to more things. Try everything that is put in front of you. Speak your mind and share your life with people around you. Start a blog! Who knows. The point is that the more regrets we have, the more we should decide that we don’t want to have anymore. Live life so that you have no regrets. Live life without holding back or succumbing to what other people think or say or do.
“It’s better to look back on life and say, “I can’t believe I did that!”, than to look back and say, “I wish I did that.””
– Author Unknown