For many, conflict is so scary that the future threat of regret is preferable to the short-term torment of conflict.
The impact books have on our lives is not limited to the words written between the covers. Some books inspire new thoughts and send us to unexpected places. Follow me Down the Rabbit Hole in this recurring segment.
In her book The 4% Fix: How One Hour Can Change Your Life, Karma Brown tells the story of a woman that dreamed of writing a book, but unfortunately died before she got the chance.
I know, a morbid start. I won’t dwell on it too long.
While on the surface, the 4% Fix is about time management and productivity, it’s also about regret. Brown asks the reader what is worth getting out of bed for? She’s not talking about cleaning bathrooms, catching up on emails, or heading into work early. She’s talking about bucket list stuff. The write-a-book-before-you-die stuff. The regret-on-your-deathbed stuff.
Geez. Still morbid. This just might be a theme in this week’s post. Death and regret are often uttered in the same breath.
While some regrets stem from actions or missed opportunities from one’s youth, the phrase “my regrets” arouses images of end-of-life reflections. Some of these, presumably, are of the bucket list variety—goals and experiences that someone wanted to accomplish before they died. The solution according to Brown is to carve out some time to do what you want to do. Plain and simple.
And the other types of regrets? Well, I guess each of us manages those in our own way.
Though I don’t personally have a bucket list, regret (or rather, living without) plays a big role in how I live my life. Until recently I hadn’t thought about why.
Then I remembered.
I was fortunate enough as a child to have my grandparents move in with us. After my grandfather’s first brush with death, I promised myself I would let him know how much I loved him every day. This glimpse into regret changed me, and eventually the way I approached difficult decisions.
I wanted to live without regret, or at least try. Luckily, I’m not particularly motivated to achieve fame, fortune, or awards, which mostly distills my potential regrets down to missed opportunities and relationship drama.
When faced with a difficult decision, I ask myself one question: what would I regret more, doing this or not doing it? Seems simple. The question is the easy part. Sometimes executing the answer is hard. It can mean having uncomfortable conversations, admitting mistakes, or apologizing. It can mean losing friends, jobs, or money. It can mean moving, travelling, or starting from scratch. In other words, it can mean conflict. For many, conflict is so scary that the future threat of regret is preferable to the short-term torment of conflict. For others, change and rocking the boat is the more regrettable decision. To each their own.
You may assume that I’m a confrontational person. Not in the least. I’m so conflict adverse that the very word sets my heart aflutter—in a fight or flight way, not in a loving way. I choose my battles, but I try to not let fear get in my way. At the end of the day, I have to live with myself. Sure, sometimes I have to eat crow, but not literally—that would definitely land me in the crow bad book.
I still have some regrets, but I sleep well most nights knowing I have mustered courage when it was most important to me. And I make sure to tell those that are dear to me how I feel. I thank my grandfather for teaching me that.
What’s the most important thing on your bucket list (if you have one)? How do you manage regrets? Have you ever regretted not making amends with someone? Assuming you can contact them, what stops you from doing that now?
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