“It’s not what you actually do in life that you regret just the opportunities that pass you by. It’s even in what you choose to do the opportunities you do not let pass by. In those moments it is sometimes only that you are not courageous or brave, but rather you have simply exchanged one fear for another. Afraid for what we were about to do and how you will do versus the fear of what we might not do.”

Craig Johnson


“Forgiven doesn’t mean no regret. We will always regret the wrongs we have done. It just means you aren’t punishing yourself for it.”


No regrets’ is a great, if not silly or impossible, concept, but I imagine it is a better slogan than say “manage regrets” or even “situational no regrets” or even “living a less regretful life.”

Regardless of the inspirational slogan and attitude suffice it to say we all have regrets. Sorry. That’s life.

The only way you could have no regrets is if

  • (a) you are always a sappy bag of shit sharing your feelings even when you haven’t been drinking

  • (b) you always make the ‘right’ decision all the time <i.e., you are never wrong>, or

  • (c) you are lying.

Anyway. I really believe it comes down to a combination of “managing regrets” and/or “managing a regret moment” and probably a significant portion of these disappointments will be made up of decisions made or not made (and things said or not said).

As much as I wish these things didn’t happen; they do. They are painful <on a wide spectrum of paper cut pain to standing on hot coals barefoot in the doorway to hell pain>. And I imagine at some point you come to realize that each moment prepares you how to deal with disappointment, regrets and regretful decisions. Ok. How about this. You better understand expecting a life without any disappointments is going to be, well, disappointing.

All that said.

I do believe there are “no regret moments” as in moments in which you have to actively participate in the moment and ‘will I regret this’ is very top of mind. These are moments where your life, career or personal, is at a crossroad. Typically, let’s say 90%+, you have to do something.  Here is where choice comes into play (hence the regret portion). You can go for it, throw caution to the wind, go with your gut or just put yourself (mentally, image wise or even physically) in that moment, or, do nothing. Pick your poison; you are invested. And because of that personal investment those type of moment’s regrets can be fairly tenacious. The regret may be something as simple as “what the fuck was I thinking?” (In technical terms that could also be called “the benefit of hindsight”), but there is still some regret.

Anyway. In my eyes, regrets are actually a good measure of your life and assessing the type of life you wanted to live and who you wanted to be as a person.

A large percentage of our life as workers, parents, managers and whatevers is pretty routine.  That means it is fairly common for most of us to fall into a routine. If we don’t nudge ourselves out of this routine, it runs the risk of becoming complacency. The nudging moments are often fertile ground for regrets. Hence the measurement of life. But even within routine there are subtle crossroads that you can attempt to ignore, but at some point in the future you will find yourself somewhere, wonder ‘how the hell did I get here’ and, reflecting, see the crossroad moment.

Look. I am not going to suggest everyone should have a boatload of regret moments to look back upon. Everyone is different. Some people prosper in routine and a well defined life. Some people prosper with change. All I suggest is you figure out what type of life you prosper best in and then assess because one thing I can guarantee, regardless of type of life, you will have regret moments. They are inevitable.

In the end.

I do believe putting yourself into challenging, and sometimes difficult, situations will help you learn more about who you are as a person. And while I would like to tell everyone how to do it … I cannot.

There is no formula. Everyone can make their life be meaningful, it just may be different for you then it will be for me, hence, an easy regret to avoid down the road is judging yourself based on someone else’s criteria.

With that thought let me share this thought from Jacob Burckhardt (1943, Reflections in History).

“… in our own affairs, our judgment may change radically with age and experience. Not until the last hour of our lives can we pronounce a final judgment on the men and things we have known, and that judgment may be totally different according to whether we die in our 40th or 80th year. It has, moreover, no objective validity but only a subjective validity for ourselves. This is the common experience of any man whose youthful desires appear to him folly in later life.”

Well. How about that. While we will all have regrets … remember … they only have subjective validity to ourselves. Ponder.

Written by Bruce