To regret is “to feel sad, sorry or disappointed over something that has happened or been done”. We have all experienced regret over something that has happened in our lives. It may be something small like regretting the last drink of the night the morning after; or it could be a decision that was made that completely altered our life. Having regrets has a major effect on our happiness, as we are powerless to change those events that have already happened.
If you have made a decision that you regret, that is a choice that stays with you for your whole life. There are two options for dealing with regret – accept what has gone before and focus on how you can live with what has happened (or not happened); or you can continue feel awful about the decision you made. As hard as it can be sometimes to move forward, there really is no other choice.
I have often regretted choosing to study pharmacy at university. At the time it seemed like a good decision, but in recent years job prospects have thinned out and wages have fallen. There were days where I was really quite upset about the lack of opportunity, especially given how hard I worked to achieve good results.
Regrets and "what if"
When we have regrets, we often think of how much better our life would be if we had made a different choice. How often do we ever think that the alternative life to what we are currently living might have been worse? Not too often I think. We all like to believe that “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence”. I thought this way about my situation, if I had studied a different course then I would have better job opportunities and be better off overall.
So I made a choice. I got all my qualifications required to be registered as a pharmacist, but then not wanting to settle for what was on offer, I kept studying to gain additional qualifications. After to applying to every pharmacy in the city for a position, I got lucky and landed my first position. I worked hard for a couple of years, got additional qualifications and then applied to work in hospital pharmacy. Eventually I had enough experience and additional training that the time came where I was successful in my application for a particular position. Now I love my job, I work with a great team and I am happy with my potential for career progression.
I could have chosen to give up on pharmacy all together and go back to university, but I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t be living in my first own, I wouldn’t have ever met my partner, I wouldn’t have known some of the great people who have become my friends. It’s so easy to think “what if”, and ignore all the good things that have happened along the way.
If you make a decision and later regret it, do something about it. If that choice is stopping you from being happy, it may be time to reassess what you can do to live with your choice. Take steps to put the decision in perspective – was it really that bad? How can you go about making it easier to live with this decision? At the end of the day you cannot change what has already happened, but there is no reason to let regrets be emotional burdens that you carry forever.
If we were all perfect, we would always make the correct choices that lead us to a life of happiness. We are by no means perfect, and sometimes we make “bad” choices. Focus on what can be, not what could have been. The past cannot be changed, so the only choice is to move forward , as to live a life burdened by regrets is to live an unfulfilled life.