Learning For Life

I Do Not “Do” Regrets

We ended our March column, RED & BLACK … Don't Regret Your Regrets?, with me telling Red, "I do not 'do' regrets," but our actual conversation continued as she wanted to know how that is even possible to do. Knowing that she loves lists, I decided to put one together for her.

As a bit of backstory, having loved ones die, especially untimely deaths, can have a powerful impact. That is what happened to me growing up. It made me realize that the future is not a guarantee, but merely an incentive. And that, in turn, had a direct influence on my priorities. And, how I approach life … with no regrets.


  1. If You Love Them, Let Them Know
    This is probably the most obvious, but if "postponed" can become an extremely painful regret. Since I learned this at such an early age, I have been doing it almost my entire life – and can tell you that it quickly becomes a habit. Not sure how to start? Make a list of the people you love, and either through words or actions (or both), let them know. It can be a simple call or visit (virtual counts), or an unexpected email or note. Or, a long letter. FYI, this also works for people you respect, admire, or appreciate.
  2. Maybe You Do Not Need To Work Less
    As a die-hard workaholic and someone who proclaims, "I have no life," you might think this falls under "Do as I say, not as I do." Yet, if you were to track my time, you would see I always carve out time for exercise and try my best to be there when my sister and nieces need me. Pre-COVID, I always saved Saturday evenings for dinner with dear friends. Work/life balance means finding time for the things that are most important or bring us the greatest pleasure, which is different from saying "I need to work less."
  3. Be Brave
    This is semantics. If I said, "Take risks," I would get push-back as most people are risk-averse. For me, I look at risk-reward; does the upside potential outweigh the downside risk? Over the years, I have done things that did not work out as planned. Do I wish I had not done them? No, I look at what positive things came out of the experience (many mistakes can be fixed) ... even if only lessons learned. Research shows that people's biggest regrets tend to involve things they did not do when they had the opportunity, not the things they did.
  4. Worrying Wastes Time (And Cause Wrinkles)
    Time is a precious commodity as you can make more money, but you cannot make more time. So, why waste any of it worrying about things that are beyond our control? The next time something has you worrying, decide what you can do to change the outcome. If the answer is "nothing," then think about what you need to do to prepare for the worst-case outcome. Then, shift your mindset and focus on the best-case scenario. (I know Red often thinks I am an "eternal optimist" and sometimes has a hard time reconciling that to me being pragmatic.)
  5. Emotions Are Not Created Equal
    Yes, Red is the warm and fuzzy emotional one, while I am the pragmatic one. But, sometimes, you have to learn to be less emotional. For example, everyone has been emotionally hurt at some point, yet I know of people who stay stuck in bitterness and never get past the pain. If you learn to forgive, you can replace the time spent being resentful with more positive things. Maybe even little acts of kindness (a smile, a compliment, a small gesture). No one ever lay on their deathbed and said, "I wish I had been meaner and more spiteful."
There is no point in regretting what you wish you had done differently, but nothing stops you from coming to terms with your regrets and moving forward with a clean slate.

People have told us they’re using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created “Conversation Starters”.

Do you feel like January and New Year resolutions are a bit like the movie “Groundhog Day”? Many people are like Red, beginning the new year with old goals that always seem to end the same way … a year later, you feel like you didn’t make much, if any, progress. So, why even bother making resolutions? Well, Black looks at things differently (it’s a good thing that never changes), which might make all the difference …



Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io


I love the holidays but definitely have mixed feelings about the start of a new year. On one hand, it's like a clean slate, a fresh beginning, where you can try to do things better – whether specific things like dieting, exercise, keeping the piles of paper from accumulating or "big picture" things like trying to spend more time with friends and family, and being smarter about money. But on the other hand, I hate feeling pressure to have a list of goals and resolutions, especially since I know it'll be an overly ambitious list and I'll soon "slide back" into old habits. And then I'll feel like a failure.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io

If it makes you feel any better, I suspect you are not alone in your approach. Many people have lists of New Year's resolutions that are too long and too ambitious. Which means you are setting yourself up for failure, not success. What would happen if you took your list and picked a few that you think are the most important, or would have the biggest impact on your life? Then set realistic year-end goals and work backward which will let you stay focused on where you are going. Then if you "slide back" it is a temporary situation not a total failure.
THE CONVERSATION STARTERS
  • Try to think back to your most important goal pre-COVID. Why was this your #1 goal and is it still important to you?
  • If you could only have two or three things on your New Year's resolution list, what would they be and why?
  • Do you look at New Year's resolutions as what you want to start doing on January 1 or what you'd like to have accomplished by December 31?

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".

It’s that time of year. Yes, it’s fun and festive, and filled with traditions. Including Red lamenting that it’s full of stress and seemingly endless “to-do” lists. Black can’t help but point out that in addition to rereading her checklist on how to survive and thrive during the holidays, she should also reread this short “Conversation Starter” (and talk about it with her daughters) about how to put the “happy” in Happy Holidays!


Red's HeadRed assets.rebelmouse.io


I can't believe how quickly the holidays are flying by. On one hand, all I want to do is enjoy them as I love this time of year. But I can't because there always seems so much to do. And I'm afraid that if I don't do everything on my holiday "to-do" list, I'll disappoint people, including me. You don't have this problem as you don't have kids and you live alone, plus others aren't looking to you to make the holidays festive and memorable.

Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


You seem to start with your "to-do" list, whereas I think about the significance of the holiday and what will make it meaningful and memorable. Yes, it is a more pragmatic approach, but it makes the planning so much easier. You know that I dislike the over-commercialization of holidays, but it does provide a reminder that it is important to let others know how much you appreciate them.

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • What's most important to you during the holidays? Why?
  • Describe your "perfect" (yet realistic) holiday celebration. What it would take to make it come true?
  • If you celebrate with others, have you ever discussed what's important to them?

P.S. – Since this is being posted in the midst of the December holiday season (what Red refers to as the "silly season"), you might be interested in these recent posts:

    Events in our lives (both personally and in the world around us) may change from year to year, but amidst the joy and festiveness of the holidays, there’s always a certain amount of stress and challenges to get everything done. This year’s no different, and I’m sure Black would suggest (sarcastically, of course) I might want to reread my tried-and-true holiday survival list …

    It's official! The holiday "silly season" (as I call it) is now underway and before I know it, it will be New Year's Day and I'll be looking back and asking, "Where did December go?!" This year's holiday goals …

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