I truly believe that life is too precious to have regrets.
I also believe you can only really live without regrets if you’re active in the decisions you make. If you know consciously in the present why you are making a decision, then in the future you will also know why you made that decision.
To live without regrets, you need to live actively rather than passively. You need to make sure your life happens for you, not to you. If you’re present in your relationships, your career choices, your faith, and your routines, you know that there is choice in the way these exist in your life.
Along our journeys we’re often faced with difficult decisions. It may be moving to another country for a job or having a career change at an unconventional moment. It may be how close we live to elderly family members or whether to move back into your parents temporarily in order to save money. Personally some of the decisions I’ve found most agonizingly difficult have been relationship based. I’m unhappy, but I’m in love. Should I stay or should I go? I’m perfectly happy, but something’s missing. Should I stay or should I go?
The central reason decisions are difficult to make is because we are making a decision unsure about what matters more to us in the toss up. There are elements of both paths which are attractive and elements which aren’t so attractive.
If we can take the specifics of the decision away and look instead at the values underlying the decision, then the right path starts to become clearer.
For example, say you are unhappy in your current company but it is well regarded from the outside world and you’ve been offered a job by a firm which seems to have a better atmosphere but isn’t as highly regarded in your profession. The decision becomes about which is more important to you: your perceived career trajectory, or your current day to day happiness?
It may be that you are dating someone who won’t commit to you, but you like them in spite of this and you don’t know whether to keep dating them. The choice you’re questioning is, which is more important: your belief about what a relationship should be and your value in that OR the moments of happiness you get from keeping that person in your life.
With decision making, while it often feels like an either/or, there is always an “and”. So once you’ve made the tough decision based on the value which matters most, you can then think about what the “and” might be to help you move forward.
If you had decided to change firm because your happiness was more important, then you can look for what the “and” might be to ensure you keep moving towards the career trajectory you want. That could mean starting something on the side or getting a new qualification.
If you decided to keep dating the non-committer, then you’ve chosen the little moments of happiness and perhaps the potential of that person. Your “and”, therefore, needs to help make sure your self-worth is being maintained. That might mean remaining open to dating other people as well, or it may mean having a mental time frame in your mind to remain in the same place.
When we start with the values in the decision, our choices become clearer. And there is no such thing as right or wrong in this. We just have to establish which value will have the most positive impact on our lives. By following up with an “and”, you can soften the possible fall out of that decision.
Sometimes when we make a decision which we know is right for one aspect of our life, it ends up gifting us in an area we could never have predicted. Either way, when your choices are based on your values, then you are making them to the best of your ability with the knowledge you have today.