What is your biggest regret?

Living With No Regrets Means Taking Action

Question: Which is more painful? The pain of discipline or the pain of regret?

The next question I’d ask is, “Which Regret is more painful, the Regret to Act or the Regret of an action that didn’t work out?”

As noted in the book Option B by Sheryl Sandberg, a chalkboard was recently put up in New York City with the instruction to “WRITE YOUR BIGGEST REGRET.” Out of the hundreds of answers written, most of the regrets were about failing to act versus actions that had failed.

I remember having a very clear understanding of this when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was immediately clear to me that we all have an expiration date, we just don’t know when that date is. This realization hit home that much more because I had no guarantees that the chemo would work. I didn’t have a day, hour, moment to spare because I couldn’t be guaranteed of another day. The universal truth is… none of us can. Since that time I’ve lived my life with one goal each day: No Regrets.

Not having regrets doesn’t mean that I live each day immensely proud of my choices. There are plenty of times during each day I catch myself thinking, saying or doing something I wish I hadn’t done. I can live and learn from those moments, but not much can be learned from an action not taken!

As they say in baseball, you miss 100% of the pitches you don’t swing at.

Whatever your dream or desire, take a moment to think through a plan of action then take a deep breath and take that first step. The trajectory of my life was drastically changed the day, 35 years ago, that I chose to take the step of finding the UCLA Gymnastic Coach’s number and calling him to ask if he needed a dance coach. Had I not taken that action I would have never had the career, relationships, marriage, and opportunities that I’ve had being at UCLA. Granted I would have never known all that I was missing out on, and my life just might have turned out as rewarding if I’d stayed the course of being a ballet dancer.

However, 35 years ago I did have the thought of calling the UCLA Gymnastics head coach, and the only reason I wouldn’t have followed through with that thought is if either I was afraid of rejection or just too darn lazy. Either way, I would have regretted never knowing what would have been had I failed to make the call.

Next on my Life agenda is getting my book published, increasing my speaking engagements and seeing two theatre productions come to light. Quite a few people have recently shared their opinions that these are lofty goals that might never come to fruition. Others share their concern for me that I’m not taking time to relax and smell the roses. Others can’t understand my daily drive and think I should spend more time just “relaxing and hanging out.” And others say I’m inspiring them to get off their behinds and take a step forward to a dream they’ve always had. All of these concerns are valid, however at the end of each day I can check off another day of No Regrets.

OK you’re turn. What are you excited about that you’ve recently taken steps toward or what step do you want to get moving toward and… What’s it going to take for you to just do it? What excuse are you using and what benefit are you getting from that excuse? If it’s laziness then confidently say, “I just don’t want to,” but if it’s fear of failure please stop and think what is the worse thing that can happen? I guarantee you it won’t be as embarrassing or painful as living with “What if?”

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2 Comments on "Living With No Regrets Means Taking Action"

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Elizabeth
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I have “what if’s” more than regrets. Like what if I had joined the Peace Corps instead of teaching business English to adults in Germany for four years right out of college? Germany was awesome-one of the best experiences of my life so it’s definitely not a regret. It changed my life! Or what if I had gone to college far from home (like University of Hawaii) instead of in state? I loved my school and the people I met, who are still my close friends now, so it’s not a regret but I wonder about the path not taken.… Read more »
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