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Regardless of who we are or how old we we are we have things we wish we would shave done differently, some of us call those regrets, some of us calling those learning experiences. Frequently clients come into me office lamenting that they should have finished their degree or they could have majored in something different or if they would have taken a different job they would be better off. This coulda, shoulda, woulda thinking is dangerous and debilitating. It can hinder our journey, keep us stuck and overall prevent us from being happier.
I am a firm believer that we make decisions at the time with the information and resources we have at the time. But there are people some of them my clients who if they could would go back and change their minds, make new decisions, take new paths. They have REAL regret about their past choices and direction. I have found 2 predominant ways of dealing with this regret:
One it becomes paralyzing, they become so focused on the bad choice and regretting it they are unable to move forward for fear of making another bad choice. They become stuck in ‘what if it happens again’ mode. So rather than taking a risk they do nothing.
Two individuals plow ahead and try to make it better. The opposite of getting stuck, this group moves forward at break neck speed trying to make up for their past mistakes and “get it right”. The issue becomes that they haven’t really looked at the regret, they haven’t learned anything from their past mistakes. Because they are so afraid of the regret they just keep running ahead to the next thing. Eventually they look back at a string of mistakes because even though they were ‘doing’ a lot of things they didn’t have a well thought out plan as to what they really wanted.
First step if you have regret and are suffering from coulda, woulda, shoulda syndrome, you need to face the regret. Face what you wish you had done differently, face why you made the choices you did, and feel the sadness of it not turning out the way you wanted it to. Sometimes bad stuff just happens. Sometimes we have the best plan, we have made the best decisions, and we still lose our jobs or don’t get into our dream school. So acknowledge the pain, feel the frustration and sadness. I am not saying wallow in the regret–but acknowledge that it is there. As we talked about yesterday, feel the feelings and keep moving forward.
THEN make a new plan. Start figuring out based on what you know now, what would you do differently, what do you want for your life now. What old values or beliefs are holding you back. Given your life style, your goals and who you are as a person (lovely flaws and all) what is you plan to move forward. If you want to finish your degree and your full time job and 2 kids is holding you back figure out how to take 1-2 classes a quarter, or look on-line for programs, see if your employer will help out on cost. Figure out what you want to do, what is preventing you from doing it and how to work around it. True, you might not finish your degree in 2 years but as they say 4 years will pass and you could shave a degree at the end or you could be sitting around saying coulda, woulda, shoulda.
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