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It’s the end of the year and it’s a great time to reflect but remember to extract the lessons.


They say regret can be a great teacher if you let her be.

In his recent book, The Power of Regret, Daniel Pink tells us that everyone experiences regret (except 5-year-olds, people with brain damage and sociopaths).  Pink says regret is normal and that whilst we think regret makes us weaker, research shows that done right, regret can make us stronger.  That we can enlist our regrets as an engine for forward progress.

Attractive young woman writing while in a park

He had a powerful message, stating that while he understands the no regrets philosophy, the problem is that it’s not possible because we all have regrets.  But the idea that you should never look backward on your life and say, “oh, I wish I did things differently” is actually a terrible blue print for living. 

Positive emotions are incredibly important and they should out number our negative ones. But we need some negative emotions as well because they instruct us.  And our most prominent negative emotion is regret.

Regret teaches us, it instructs us, it clarifies what we should be doing and how we should be doing it.

We can’t wallow in them but we need to think about our regrets.  And when we think about them, Pink says, the evidence is clear that they can help us make better decisions, solve problems faster, be better strategists and find greater meaning in our life.

Regret hurts but it also instructs and if you try to avoid the pain, you don’t get any of the learning.  We have to be able to take our regrets and use them as signals.

So, as we head to the end of the year, it’s a great time to reflect on the year that was and reflect on what can be done differently next year and beyond.

If it helps, journal it.  Get it all out of your mind and heart, ready to start anew.

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