Sometimes people ask me for advice about big decisions they have to make. I always tell them I don’t like to give advice because then they can blame me for any undesired outcomes that may result.
That’s kind of a joke but not really. So, instead of giving advice, I try to show people how to work through their own answers and choose the best one. That way, they can always take full responsibility for anything good, or bad that happens.
One of the most crippling things that keeps people from deciding to do something in numerous situations, is fear. They are afraid of what the consequences might be. And more than anything, they are afraid they’ll regret their decision. This type of worry is irrational, even though every single one of us does it.
We worry about all kinds of things. Should we or shouldn’t we send that email? Should we skip that meeting and go to Starbucks instead? Should I hit the seven iron even though I know a six iron will get me over that water hazard? Sorry, had to put a golf reference in there.
We fret about so much, it’s a wonder that anyone gets anything done. I see my lady friends worry about what pants to wear, what dress to wear, and whether or not those shoes will go with the rest of the outfit. Some guys stress about things like that, too. And if they don’t, it’s a sure bet that they are stressing out about something else in their lives.
The fear of regret can be so crippling. But how can we push through it? I mean, if it were easy to do, everyone would do it, and there would be a much less stressful world to live in. At least I hope it would be like that.
Actually, it’s not as hard as you might think. Getting past the fear of regret just takes a little focus, and a little reframing.
Life Changing Decisions
I have a friend who was recently considering flying out to California to attend an event with a person she admires professionally. It would be a tremendous experience for her, both personally and career wise, and at the base of it, would be a cool thing to do since she’s never been to that part of the country before.
Despite all of those pros, she continued to fret over whether or not to buy the plane ticket out there.
Granted, the ticket would be expensive. With that money, she could have bought a new laptop, or new clothes, or paid off credit card debt, or any number of other things. And all of that stuff would have been a good use of her resources.
She was afraid that if she bought that plane ticket, she would regret it later because she might need the money for something else.
The Good Thing About Money
I explained to her that there is something awesome about money. You can always make more of it. What you can’t do is recreate experiences that typically happen once in a lifetime.
This event was one chance for her to go visit a place she’d never been, hang out with some awesome people, and potentially learn some really useful new things.
I asked her a simple question. Would she regret spending that money on a plane ticket for the rest of her life? Or would she wonder what could have happened if only she had taken the plunge and flown out west?
It all comes down to focusing on which potential regret is bigger. In her case, while she isn’t rich, she can always make more money, and spend it on the kinds of things that I listed before. But missing out on the opportunity to meet great people, spend time with them, and take in the sights and sounds of a new place, all would have been too much for her to handle.
That kind of regret would be monumental. I picture her standing on a balcony weeping about the time she almost did something spontaneous and exciting. Okay, maybe not that dramatic but you get the picture.
What About You?
Is there something you are thinking about doing but are afraid of what might happen? Maybe you are thinking about starting a new business, taking a spontaneous vacation, or doing something a little crazy that may be a little out of your budget.
Remember, what you really need to do is figure out what you will regret more: taking the leap, or taking no action at all.
It’s up to you.
I’d love to hear about some things you’re thinking about doing. Feel free to post them in the comments section.