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Don’t Regret Your Regret

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

Some mistakes are bigger than others, but even the smallest one can lead to regret. Maybe you didn’t say hi to someone who said hi to you as you passed on the street. Maybe you shouldn’t have dropped that class after all. If you make a huge mistakes that leads you down an irreversible path you should never have gone on – like you married the wrong person, perhaps – the regret can be overwhelming.

But not all regret has to be bad. In fact, you can use feelings of regret to your career advantage. Let’s say you never applied for a job you really wanted because didn’t think you could get. Then you find out that someone with the same amount of experience as you landed the position. Now you’re thinking to yourself, “What if I’d applied? I could have that job now.”

This is dangerous thinking. Getting caught up on the “what if’s” is a form of inaction. Inaction doesn’t yield positive results; rather, it makes you feel far worse about the situation. Rather than dwelling, take it as a lesson to never doubt yourself again, and to apply to a position you want even if your chances are slim.

In a different scenario, maybe you made an offensive joke in the office that got you into hot water with your co-workers and supervisor. You can feel bad about it and say you’re sorry, but what people in the office really want to see is that you’ll change your behavior.

Inaction vs. Action. Dwell and watch as you go nowhere, or use your mistake to exact a change for the better. Regret is an offshoot of making mistakes, and making mistakes is an opportunity to grow.

Sources: Psychology Today

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