Taking Action: The Best Antidote to Regret

As I sit at my electronic piano keyboard and practice some sight-reading out of a Beginner's book, I come to the harsh realization that I'm not very good at reading music. I think, “Imagine where I’d be if I had devoted REAL practice to this thing." Feelings of regret plague me. I’m a much better performer these days than I am a sight-reader, but I still think, “I would be a world-class musician by now if I had put in the amount of practice that the greats did. I would, right now, be what I know I’m capable of being.”

This stuff freaks me out way more than it should.  (This music is right-side up, right?)
This stuff freaks me out way more than it should. (This music is right-side up, right?)

Do these thoughts sound familiar to you?

You might regret missed opportunities. Or, you may have done something to hurt someone you care about emotionally. You might have let a relationship turn sour. You might have let a business or job opportunity pass you by. You might not have taken full advantage of your education or chosen the “right” college major. You wanted to get better at meeting and dating the opposite sex, but you were always too shy and afraid of rejection. You wanted to be a rock star or a world-renowned artist, but you’re older now and it seems too late for any such thing to happen.

No, we can’t travel back in time and undo those things. There's no magic pill. But we can make the rest of our lives better.

Life can be a desert, but if you keep your eyes open, you can always count on a sunrise.   Photo Credit: E on Flickr
Life can be a desert, but if you keep your eyes open, you can always count on a sunrise. Photo Credit: E on Flickr

Some of your past mistakes may be "unfixable," but there's always a way to be proactive in addressing them.

  • You can apologize to the person or people you’ve let down, and resolve not to make the same mistakes in future relationships.
  • You can pick up old interests and hobbies that you failed to follow in the past.
  • You can go back to school and embark on a different, more fulfilling career path.

The best antidote for regret is action.When you’re fully invested in taking action, the regrets start to fade away. You’re literally creating a new reality for yourself, so that later, you’ll be able to look back with pride at overcoming regret. Your lamentations over missed opportunities and mistakes will be replaced with memories of fulfilling experiences and some unexpected joys along the way.

Here's a suggested plan of action. (Use at own risk. This advice has the potential side effect of improving your life.)

1. Identify your regret. Don’t let a vague depression hold you back. Write down the things you regret. This can be hard, especially if you've been suppressing those thoughts. But it's necessary to bring those unresolved issues to the forefront of your conscious mind. Instead of dwelling on them this time, you're working towards eliminating them from your life.

2. Identify the thoughts and beliefs that will hold you back from addressing those regrets.

See if you can spot your own thoughts in this list of common excuses:

  • “I’m too old.” You’re only as old as you think you are. Yes, physical age is real phenomenon that can temper your ambitions, but what matters is how you live your life. It doesn't matter if you’re 88 years old and you want to learn how to become a rock musician—in fact, I’d applaud and admire you for it. If that’s what you want to do, if it interests and excites you, go for it.
  • “I don’t have the time.” Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day in pursuit of your goals, you can make the time. That is, if you really want to achieve said goal.
  • “It’ll take too long.” It’s a process. Learn how to enjoy the process of learning--it's the only way you'll get through the hard work of improving yourself as a person.

  • “It’s not ‘normal’, common, or expected enough.” What, you want to be “average”? You want to be boring? You want to be this guy?

He's so boring and "normal" that he puts himself to sleep.
He's so boring and "normal" that he puts himself to sleep.

Do yourself a favor and take some risks. Spice up your life a little. Be a little open minded.

3. Now that you know the excuses are worthless, stop wasting time and TAKE ACTION!

When I remember this guy, my regrets fade to the background and I feel empowered to take charge of my life. How about you?

Do SOMETHING towards achieving your goals, and do it TODAY. Even if you take a baby step, that’s something. But do it. Don’t waste anymore time. Don’t give yourself any more opportunity for regret.

Start TODAY on fixing a regret you’ve been putting off dealing with.

Go ahead, I’m waiting. Thank me later.  (In advance: you're welcome.)

Guess what? One day soon, I think I’m going to be a great sight-reader.

More by this Author


What are some of YOUR strategies for overcoming regret? 36 comments

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

I found this a simply awesome, beautiful and challenging Hub. I know that I live with many regrets and will start today (well tomorrow - it's a bit late in this day now!) to do something about them.

Actually my being on HubPages is one action I have taken in response to a regret - but there are more!

Thanks so much for the kick in the butt!'

Love and peace

Tony


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks Tony! Glad to provide the kick...I need it myself. And finally signing up for HubPages was actually something I did to circumvent future regret. I knew that the longer I waited to start, the more upset I'd be for not exercising my freelance writing muscles. So far, I'm having fun here.

Feel free to share more if you're comfortable. Glad you liked the hub!


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

Hey, I was going to leave a comment till I watched the video and now I don't know what my comment was!! Perhaps there are no comments, just get up! Thanks for the hub and the video


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

By golly, I finally remember what I was going to say. I am assuming you've read Wayne Dyer's Power of Intention. If not, check it out before you buy it. If it appears too heady and you like to listen, then buy the abridged audio version--four CD's. They have been so so helpful to me over a period of about five years. Helpful with everything you write about and everything I write about. And a lot of what other folks here write about!!


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Your hub sends a powerful message - regret can catch up with you and if you choose to it can take over your life. The action steps are very powerful especially when you incorporate them in your daily goals. Gives you a new beginning if you will. I agree with Wayne Dyer's Power of intention - very powerful and to the point.


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

I had to write a separate comment on the motivational video - truly what a remarkable man and a lesson to all and I was moved by how the school children were moved - that gives me hope for society not just the inspiration for myself and for this amazing young man.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Fabulous hub that speaks to the heart of the matter. There is no point looking back with regret. There is always tomorrow and the amazing opportunity to get things right. I give this hub a big thumbs up!


jambo87 profile image

jambo87 6 years ago from Outer Space / Inner Space

"Life can be a desert, but if you keep your eyes open, you can always count on a sunrise."

Beautiful!

Thanks for the honest, concise, and motivational hub Benny.

I think one way to overcome regret (in the way of past relationships) is to practice forgiveness. If you caused some distress to another person for whom you once deeply cared for, acknowledge your mistake, own up to it, and forgive yourself.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Awesome comments, everyone. I appreciate them all more than I can say. Hope I've inspired you to take some action!

@vrbmft: No I haven't checked out Dyer's book, but I will! I'm always on the lookout for inspirational material.

@billyaustindillon: I agree, an action plan is truly essential. Without one, you don't know where to start, and thus there's often no end in sight, which can discourage you even more. The video truly is awesome; I remembered seeing it a few years ago and I had to share it here. I see Nick Vujicic at work and think, "if he can do it, I can do it too."

@breakfastpop: ...and I give you a huge "thank you"! Glad you liked it.

@jambo87: It's funny, I literally came up with that sentence at the last minute, but I'm glad you found it, as well as the rest of the hub, poignant and meaningful. Great point about forgiveness...I might write about that in the future. Self-forgiveness can be the hardest thing, but it's possible.


DoorMattnomore 6 years ago

I agree with this 100 percent. I am always trying to remind myself, now is NOW and its all you ever have. You can not change the past but you can fix now. Of course, knowing these things and actually doing them are completely different things. Great hub.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks DoorMattnomore! You've got it; therein lies the importance of "seizing the day" and appreciating the rich opportunities you have in the present.


Lifeallstar1 profile image

Lifeallstar1 6 years ago

Wow Benny, This is really great. I was not expecting all this information which really opened my mind to life as a whole. I love the line "The best antidote for regret is action." It's so true. Thank you for writing this. You made so many good points. Thanks again! Jess


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks Jess! I'm glad you like that sentence; as soon as I came up with it, I told myself, "that's a hub." And then I took action!

It's awesome that it's opened your mind to life...by the way, I wrote a hub about that too :)


Splitty Booms profile image

Splitty Booms 6 years ago from Arizona

I honestly began reading this and looked over my shoulder to see if you were hiding in the bushes or something. Spot-on, my friend. Spot, friggin, on. That whole paragraph starting with "You might regret missed opportunities..."; I swear at that point I was convinced we knew eachother 'in real life' or something...that you were writing under a secret identity and you were really one of my cousins who knows me well. lol Highly unlikely...but still, I am guilty of everything in that paragraph - every SINGLE thing.

Your hub is a reminder that I'm now doing *some* of the right things; turning the direction of my life around slowly but surely.

Another great one!


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks SplittyBooms...wow, had no idea it would resonate with anyone that much, but I'm really glad it did!

I just might be one of your cousins...

Just kidding, I'm not (or at least I don't think I am). But I think regret is a common theme among human beings, which is why we can all identify with those feelings. I'm guilty of most of the stuff on that list myself. And then I had a realization--taking action NOW is the easiest and best way to prevent those regrets from extending into the future.


Music Lady profile image

Music Lady 6 years ago from Los Angeles

Excellent hub. I've seen several of Nick's videos. What an inspiration he is! Best of luck with your reading music. Do it consistently and you'll be very surprised next year. ;-)


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks Music Lady! It's funny--when I found your hub on learning the fretboard and commented on it, I completely forgot that I already wrote about my sight-reading troubles here. But I'm glad you liked my hub and I hope you got something out of it!


Tkumah profile image

Tkumah 6 years ago

Wow:)

Simply uplifting, inspiring, touching and nourishing.

Thank you for sharing.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks Tkumah! I'm glad you found it so uplifting!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Ah, this makes me think of that regret list known as 'shoulda, coulda, woulda' - all the things you should have and could have done. Sometimes I think it's because we have so thoroughly dismissed elders in this culture - they come with decades of knowledge but are ignored - and we wind up doing it all alone and the hard (usually foolish) way.

Good hub here. It's time to look at regrets positively - as a voice that it trying to tell us to do as your title suggests - taking action which is the best antidote to regret.

Rated up of course. Nice to meet you by the way.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

And awesome to meet you, BkCreative! Thanks for your kind words.

Yes, regrets can stem from not esteeming our elders and respecting their knowledge. Especially if we're young and rebellious, we like to "have it our way," often only to find that a wiser adult was trying to give us a more substantial, more satisfying (and often quicker and easier) way to reach our goals. For example, we're encouraged to "stay in school"...not because education and book-sense is everything, but it opens up opportunities that might be hard to come by otherwise.

Yes, regrets can be blessings in disguise as well. We should learn from past experiences, good and bad, to propel ourselves into a better future.


stephensaldana profile image

stephensaldana 6 years ago from Chicago

Very powerful stuff indeed.. When I find myself regretting something I "should or could" have done, I think about all the wonderful things in my life that I wouldn't have if I had.. The piano for instance.. I didn't really enjoy it when I was taking lessons, and yes I could have made myself keep taking classes and dreading the study time.. Instead I think about the things that I did focus on and am so glad I have made the decisions I did.. Everyone has a path - and that path is right in front of us..


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks Stephen! There's always a trade-off in life; we can't be in two places at one time. I believe it's best to make peace with your past (whether things you did that you wish you hadn't, or things you didn't do that you wish you had), appreciate the opportunities it's provided you with (e.g., imagine what you'd have missed out on, had you stuck with dreadful piano lessons!), and resolve now to seize the day.

You're correct about the path being front of us; the only question is, is our vision clear enough to see it? Thanks for sharing!


Baileybear 6 years ago

Inspirational hub. I've had some very unsuitable careers and made unwise financial decisions etc. Someone told me that nothing we do is a waste, even if it turns out bad - we can still learn something useful from it


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks Baileybear. I believe that's absolutely true and right. Bad choices are certainly unpleasant, but one should at least use them to one's advantage--i.e., reflecting on them and gaining wisdom to facilitate happiness in the present.


EnergyAdvisor profile image

EnergyAdvisor 6 years ago from The nearest planet to Venus

I enjoyed reading it. I definitely agree that taking action is the remedy. Taking action is taking responsibility.

Thanks for sharing this!

(rated up)


Thumb86 profile image

Thumb86 6 years ago from Wales

wow, I was actually motivated by this hub! great stuff, mate. nice one!


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thumb86: Now that's what I like to hear!


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 6 years ago from London, UK

Action is the Key - Thanks for a very motivational Hub.


crazybeanrider profile image

crazybeanrider 6 years ago from Washington MI

I am motivated by your hub! Sometimes I think I never do enough for people, so I do just a little more. But reading this I zeroed on my regrets and hope to work on those. You are a very inspiring soul.


Katie Wells profile image

Katie Wells 6 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

I love this hub! Your journey through regret is very inspiring!


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Thanks Katie! Regret is indeed what inspired me to write this and is pushing me to take action.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

Lady_E: Thanks so much; glad you found it motivational :)

crazybeanrider: Thanks a whole lot; that means so much to me. We all know how much regret sucks. If I can save another person from regret it's all worth it!


lctodd1947 profile image

lctodd1947 6 years ago from USA

This is very useful and inspiring information written in this hub. I love the way you have written this and the way it encourages one to get up; shake themselves and move...to anything is better than nothing. Great hub. Thanks for sharing. Linda


katyzzz profile image

katyzzz 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Amazing stuff, that video is surely amazing, what on earth do we have to complain about.

He is some guy and so are you! Mind blowing hub


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A. Author

lctodd1947: I'm so glad you see so much inspiration in my hub. I feel it's the best lessons I've personally ever learned, so I had to share it with everyone!

katyzzz: He's an incredible guy, I certainly agree with you. He's human and I'm sure he has doubts, fears and insecurities, but he's obviously not letting that get him down. Thanks so much for the read and the compliment :)

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