Regrets are wasted energy.
I had a person in one of my online seminars post that she was an oncology nurse early on in her career and was often the last person people spoke to before dying. Many of them shared their regrets with her about:
- Not taking risks in their lives
- Not doing jobs they wanted to do
- Not doing the education they wanted
- Long-held grudges
She had to leave nursing because this was such a depressing part of the job. But what she learned was to live a life of no regrets.
Don’t look at your career development ever as a regret. You can’t change the past… only the future. And it’s how you deal and react to past events that are important. Most of us make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time. Remember that when you look back on your career development. Don’t ponder or wonder “what if…” Let it go and move forward.
The key to regretting something is to look at it and ask yourself, “What did I learn from it?” I really have no regrets about past decisions and mistakes because I learned something from all of them. I learned that a bachelors degree in Forestry still helps me appreciate the outdoors and to understand ecology in a different way. It was not a waste of five years…and I love the outdoors…as a hobby. So there are no regrets. What I learned by being involved on campus during that time in a variety of student activities was that my true passion was working with people and creativity. That was a good lesson.
People have said to me, “You should have started your own business 5 years ago”. Nope, could not have done it five years ago. I would have probably been able to make it work, but it wasn’t the right time. Three years ago was the best time because that’s when I did it. 🙂 No regrets.
If you have regrets about your education, you should be pleased to know that many people are living longer healthier lives – often the equivalent of a second adult lifetime. Embrace learning at any age. Even if you think you’d like to get a bachelors degree requiring 120 credits and you are 50 years old. Think about it. If you are 50 and need to earn 120 credits and it takes you 8 years to earn them, you are still only 58 years old. You could work for another 12-15 years easily. Most people change their careers every 5-8 years already…heck you’d have longevity if you worked 12 years in a field.
Do you want to avoid future regrets? Stay open to the serendipity of your life – those chance events that show themselves when you least expect it. Look at every day as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn. An opportunity to explore. An opportunity to change your life. Don’t look at your career development as a linear path, but an organic career pathway that will twist and turn throughout your life…because it is. You just need to embrace it and have no regrets about past decisions.
Regrets are a waste of valuable time and energy.
If you have regrets with people in your past…forgive them and move on.
If you have regrets for the missed opportunity…don’t worry about it, you’ve got all the years in front of you to change.
If you are still feeling regretful about something, try this. Look at your regrets and write down what you learned from them. Then forgive yourself for regretting and move on. It is not about the past; it needs to be about your future and what you learned. Now pick yourself up and move on…forward in your career development and open to the serendipity that life brings to us daily.
“My entire life can be described in one sentence: It didn’t go as planned and that’s okay.”
― Rachel Wolchin
Jim Peacock is the Principal at Peak-Careers Consulting and writes a monthly newsletter for career practitioners. Peak-Careers offers discussion-based online seminars for career practitioners focused on meeting continuing education needs for CCSP, GCDF and BCC certified professionals as well as workshops for career practitioners and individual career coaching.
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