Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

One Simple Way to Avoid Regret

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The girl you couldn’t get out of your mind. The guy you wanted to date so badly. Everybody has one. The person you felt you must ask out, but didn’t. One of life’s many regrets.

And the list doesn’t stop with relationships.

The trip to Europe you didn’t take.

The book you didn’t write.

The team you didn’t try out for.

The person you didn’t tell you loved them.

The business you didn’t start.

The child you chose not to adopt.

The person you decided to not interrupt and talk to.

The language you didn’t try to learn.

The website you didn’t start.

The dream job you said no to because it wasn’t “stable” enough.

Have you noticed something about regret. Typically it involves the things you didn’t do. The times you didn’t try at all.

How often do you hear someone say they regret trying to start their own business even though it failed? How often do you hear someone say they regret writing a poem even though nobody liked it?

Not as often.

Rarely do you regret the bad outcome that could happen when you take a risk. In fact, most of the time you learn something incredibly valuable when things don’t turn out the way you hoped. Sometimes the worst-case-scenario turns out to be one of your most important moments.

As the story goes, it took Thomas Edison 1,000 failed attempts before successfully inventing the light bulb.

What we tend to regret the most in life is never having tried. (Tweet that.)

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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9 Replies

  1. Samuel John

    Good word. Just what I need to hear right now. Thanks.

  2. Sabine

    “What we tend to regret the most in life is never having tried.” So true, but “just” not to try seems to be the most comfortable solution. At a short term view, it surely is. But at long term, regrets can very much embitter us… A failed attempt may be more beneficial; it just requires the gumption to try!

  3. it can be more comfortable. We may even regret trying in the short term, but much less likely in the long run.

  4. Bill Bonikowsky

    Your post reminds me of this memorable line from John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem, Maud Muller… “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

  5. That rings so true with me, Bill. It’s a great line to keep in mind as we decide whether or not we take action on something.

  6. I’m spending 2014 traveling on missions to 11 different countries (the World Race). When I was hesitant about applying one thing that came to mind was, “If you get this close and don’t do it, you’re going to regret it.”

  7. I didn’t know that. Incredible, Katie. I am jealous.

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