What to do with those ‘woulda-coulda-shoulda’ regrets!

Sinatra may have had “too few to mention,” whereas I on the other hand, have had too many to mention! I’m talking of course about regrets…. missed opportunities, paths not pursued – that type of thing.

They say that in the end you only regret the things you didn’t do, not the things you did and you know, I think that’s SO true. When I look back, I’m aware that ALL the things I truly regret were to do with things I didn’t do and NONE of them – not a single one – was about things I did do. Even when some of those choices were difficult, challenging or heart-breaking, they were – and still are – incredibly precious and valuable experiences that I look back on with gratitude, as well as a certain pride in knowing that at least I went for it and gave it my all.

The ache of regret

What I STILL struggle with are those ‘woulda-coulda-shoulda’ moments that linger on in the memory and resurface at regular intervals, accompanied with a churning feeling deep in the pit of the stomach.

The ‘ache of regret’ is a feeling that’s hard to reconcile and inevitably ends up taking me down the well-worn path of ‘what if?’ without ever leading anywhere new!

Regrets as a catalyst for change

Perhaps the toughest regrets of all are the ones we feel we have to file away in the drawer marked ‘it’s too late’. Honestly, even saying those words makes me emotional because I can remember how these three little words could so easily have blocked my future ambition of creating a business of my own, rather than becoming a powerful catalyst to fuel my vision, determination and energy.

None of us can do anything about what’s gone but we can do an enormous amount with the future ahead of us. And oh what a future it might be – especially for us as women over 50! Because there’s never been more opportunities and possibilities for us to create prosperity on our own terms, doing what we love and doing what we do best.

Let’s just imagine it for a minute

Fast forward to a time when your dream of using your experience, skills and talents to create a fulfilling, authentic, purpose driven business has been achieved and is now your reality.

What do you think your ‘future self’ would want you to know right now…. what words of wisdom would she share with you?

Would she tell you it just wasn’t worth the effort to get to this place and that you’re better off settling for ‘what is’?

OR….. would she tell you that she is so much happier now she’s finally fulfilling her potential and living a purpose-driven life and you’d better get going and start moving in the direction of your vision?

I think we both know the answer.

Our regrets can be an incredibly potent force for change – they can inspiremotivate and provide real clarity about how we want to live our lives going forward. It was only once I hit my fifties that I started to examine my ache of regret instead of repeatedly pushing it away time after time after time.

When I listened with understanding and compassion to what it was still trying to tell me, I heard the important message buried deep within about what I really wanted to do and thoughts of creating a business started furiously bubbling to the surface, giving me the insight and impetus to press ahead and make it a reality. When I look back at this point now, I’m so thankful and glad that I seized the opportunity rather than spending the rest of my life wishing I had!

Regret’s important messages

Research has shown that regret for the roads not taken can be particularly agonizing for us at midlife and in the second half of life. There’s no denying these feelings have the potential to keep us stuck but they also have the potential to become the most powerful impetus for growth we have at our disposal. Within each and every woulda, coulda, shoulda there are seeds of insight and wisdom with which to reshape past regrets and turn them into something meaningful in the present.

How about you?

Regrets – too few to mention or too many? What’s your biggest regret? Have your past regrets helped shape future decisions?

I’d love to hear from you!


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