Daniel H. Pink has spent years researching human regret and decided to compile data on it in a qualitative way. He surveyed regret all over the world, asking anyone to write in with their regrets, ultimately receiving tens of thousands of stories and missives with which he could compile, classify, analyze and recognize patterns.

Regrets of inaction outnumber regrets of action 2:1

“One of the big categories of regrets that you see are boldness regrets. If only I’d taken the chance. If only I’d asked out that person on a date. If only I traveled. If only I’d spoken up. If only I’d launched a business. We should have a bias for action because we overstate the amount of risk and difficulty sometimes. What’s more, I think … we plan too much and act too little. Sometimes we don’t realize that action is a form of knowing. That we can figure stuff out by doing it,” Pink said.

In 5 years, what will you regret not doing today?

The point I’m making here is probably totally transparent. If you feel like you’re running in place in your office and in your life, maybe boldness is what you need to rethink and make changes.  If 2022 felt uninspired, commit to taking steps to energize 2023. Sometimes small steps lead to bigger ones. 

Maximize your regrets to live a fuller life

Mr. Pink’s New York Times best seller is entitled THE POWER OF REGRET. How looking backward moves us forward. Here are his suggestions for you to consider on how to turn regrets into tools:

  1. Look inward: Reframe how we think about our regrets. We speak to ourselves more cruelly than we’d speak to anyone else. Practice self-compassion.
  1. Look outward: Practice disclosure. Sharing your emotions is a form of unburdening. We can make sense of regret through talking or writing. 
  1. Move forward: Extract a lesson from your regret. You need to create distance to help yourself process. 

I received a holiday card that I’d like to share with all of you:

May your life be crowded with unexpected joys!