The Regret of doing things vs The Regret of not doing things – Reblog

Drawing by Adrian Serghie

   As you might know, I watch a lot of YouTube videos with different kind of successful people and I noticed that a lot of them talk about avoiding regret as a motivation to do things. Because of this, I remembered about a study that targeted the presence or the absence of regret. I want to share again with you the post I wrote about this because I believe it’s useful to have this in mind whenever you have a decision to make (the original post can be found here).

   Today I came across an idea that had a big impact on me. There has been a study made by two U.S. universities on 370 people about the regret of doing things versus the regret of not doing things. The conclusion is that when we do things and regret it, the experience is more painful, but it doesn’t last that long (most of the time it lasts two weeks). However, the regret of not doing things is not as painful, but it lasts for years having bigger impact on our lives.

   So whenever we have a dilemma about something, we should ask ourselves if we should do something about that and maybe suffer a couple of weeks because things didn’t work out the way we planned, or if we should do nothing about it and regret it for years.

   Of course, this doesn’t apply to everything. Actually, the most common regrets are about love, education and work. So I think we should consider the results of this study whenever we have a dilemma in these domains.

   If you analyze your past, what kind of regrets do you have? Your most powerful regrets are about doing things or about not doing things?

22 thoughts on “The Regret of doing things vs The Regret of not doing things – Reblog

  1. Last weekend, I debated on whether or not to compete in a Judo tournament. I am battling age and injuries. I ended up competing because I rationalized that there was the possibility of regret if I did compete and get hurt, but I knew I would definitely regret not competing and letting the opportunity pass me by. I went 1-3 for the day, but I didn’t get hurt and I had fun. No regrets. Great post.

  2. I would wager that the main reason success strategists avoid using regret as motivation is that it does not translate into the present as a motivating factor, and it is not a concrete goal. I am not me in the future- what do I care how he feels about my choices now, and who am I to presume whether I will regret doing or not doing something when I have not attempted or avoided it?

    It’s too easy a motivator from which to become demotivated because it is fuzzy in its definitions and not immediately practical.

    That said I completely agree with you- I would rather get things done now than be a 70 year old and regret an empty life.

    Also I would like to ask for a link to the study if you have it available.

    Keep writing my friend.

  3. I think in a different way than most. Yes, knowing what I know now, being the person I am now there are things in my past I would do differently.

    Unfortunately, if those things were changed I wouldnt be who I am today. I wouldnt know the things I know now.

    It is everything we have experienced that makes each of us who we are. Without thise collective events of our past we wouldnt be who we are. If we regret what we have or havent done arent we then cheapening the experience?

    Definitely we should learn from our past, we shouldn’t, however dwell on the past. The past is over, the present is passing these we can do nothing about. The future is ever evolving, ever shifting, it is this we must look to. It is this we can affect.

    Regret? Its not for me.

    1. Yes, exactly! And I think the idea behind this is just the one you said. We need to start doing things instead of dwelling. But you know, we mostly dwell involuntarily and the reoccurring thoughts are the ones related to the things we didn’t do (at least, that’s what the studies say).

  4. This is a very thought-provoking question. It reminds me of the quote: Rather to ask for forgiveness than permission. As in, you might mess up but that’s better than hesitating or not even starting it in the first place. At least you did something! There were many times when I regretted not doing things. Mostly this involves romantic relationships… But it was only till last year when I finally gave up on that passive mindset and just asked a guy out.

    And now we’re 9 months strong and going to spend the rest of our lives together. 🙂 So doing things and regretting is much better than regret not doing it. (although no regrets here.)

    1. Yes, I truly believe that too. At least we did something, we’ve seen the outcome, we can cry if we screw it up, but at least we’ve learned something. If we don;t try it, we’ll have that “what if…” in our mind and our mind will come up with endless scenarios.

  5. As long as we are not talking about death, health concerns, or financial ruin, I’m all about doing. I rather regret doing rather than not. I think there is valuable lessons learned even if the result was not what was expected.

  6. As a matter of fact, I am currently writing a story about this topic.

    A young man who has ten more days to live.

    He started regretting the things he didn’t do, not the things he did. So he sets about doing some of those things before his time expires.

    This is from what I concluded about my own life when I thought about this topic. I know I’d definitely regret the things I didn’t do.

Leave a Reply