Apr 11, 2023 | Uncategorized

I am regularly asked: “what is the piece of advice that has had the greatest impact on you?”

In my 20s, I was working at Bankers Trust, and as I was moving on from my role, my boss offered a piece of advice that I have never forgotten, and regularly practice…

Minimize regret.

It was as if time suddenly slowed down allowing me to absorb these two simple words. No further explanation was given. I didn’t need it. It was deceptively simple. 

And more than two decades later, I still adhere to this mantra, attempt to reduce feelings of regret, and avoid actions (or inactions) that will leave me feeling regretful.

“But why not have a life of no regrets instead?” A second question. 

Simply put, I don’t believe that you can live a daring and full life and not make any mistakes that may leave you feeling some regret.

The downside of regret

Regret feels bad. It can leave us feeling sad and vulnerable. It can make us unproductive and less brave. When you have regrets, you can find yourself stuck in a space of looking backwards and longing. The sense that you could have done more, better or differently has a way of staying with you, like a dark shadow.

I didn’t need more explanation or convincing. To minimize regret was a more peaceful, productive, and enjoyable way to live. Now that you read this, you might think that living like this seems sensible and you might want to follow the advice too. Great! Or maybe you are thinking, surely most people already live like this? Sadly no! Many people don’t live so intentionally. And for those who think they might try, what it takes to minimize regret may seem too onerous. But if you want a more abundant and contented life…read on.

How to Minimize Regret

Live a more intentional life.

Be clear on your values and on your priorities. Minimizing regret is about knowing what matters to you – your moral compass and your aspirations. 

It includes taking into account the needs and feelings of others. 

Ultimately, minimizing regret behooves us to live congruently with what matters to us.

To minimize regret you must nurture what matters. Take everything that you have learned from self reflection, planning and forgiveness and make that the basis of your choices.

When regret comes knocking, what then?

When you live daringly, when you push yourself, and frankly, if you are human, you will still find yourself living with some regret. This is one of the biggest areas that I have had to work on in my life and career – the need to be kind to myself and to forgive myself. 

It isn’t that I am letting myself off the hook, as I remain accountable –  but I don’t allow myself to wallow in regret. 

So, when regret finds you, take the time to feel and then ask yourself ‘where to from here’. Plan for your next success rather than living in your past failure. 


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