I had a really interesting idea last night. I’ve been struggling with some big decisions lately and am really at a loss of what to do. I think I’ve figured out why. Regret.
I’ve realized that I have a lot of regrets about things in my life. I think everybody does. I’ve also realized that the reason I have such trouble making big decisions is that I constantly worry about whether or not I will regret the decision. This leads to indecision and countless hours spent worrying about something. In the end, I make the decision and end up regretting something regardless.
I think this is a good process to make big decisions:
1. Thing about all of the big decisions in your past. What do you regret about them? I have regrets about moving to Minnesota. Moving to San Francisco. Women. Taking certain jobs. Going to college at UF. Buying a condo. Buying a crappy cell phone. Even buying little things like clothes or shoes. I think about these decisions and realize that I have tons of regrets.
2. Now think about if you’d made the opposite decision. What regrets would you have then? If I’d stayed in FL, I would regret never leaving. If I’d stayed in MN, I’d regret never leaving. If I’d dump my girlfriend, I’d miss her. If I’d taken a different job, I’d regret missing the one I got. If I’d kept renting and not bought the condo, I’d regret not living downtown. The point here is to realize that you would have regrets no matter what you do. We all try to justify how perfect and awesome our lives would be if we’d only made a different decision, but the reality is that we will always regret something.
3. Now you can realize that you would have regrets no matter what you do. We all try to justify how perfect and awesome our lives would be if we’d only made a different decision, but the reality is that we will always regret something. Life is short and you can only do so much. You can really do anything you want with your life, but you can’t do everything. You can only live in one place at a time. You can only have one job (or maybe 2) at a time. You have to make decisions and pick one thing over another. And sadly, you will always have feelings of regret about not picking the other option. This is human nature we always find things that we don’t like about our current situation and wish we had another situation.
4. This means you can stop worrying about whether or not you will regret your decisions. No matter what you choose, there will be something you don’t like about it. By realizing this, you can free yourself from worry. You now know that there will definitely be feelings of regret in life. Why worry about it? They’re going to happen anyway.
5. Decisions will still be tough to make though. You will still wonder which option you will regret less. So, start with a list. Write out a big list of all of the things you might regret about each option. We always like to get caught up in the good things, but forget the bad. So what will you regret about each choice?
What will I regret if I move back to MN? I will regret not having warm weather, working in the tech industry in SF, living in a great city, being in California, being on an adventure, being close to the mountains, being able to see all kinds of neat stuff on the west coast.
What will I regret if I stay in SF? I will regret not having the close friends I once had there, not seeing my nieces grow up, not being able to easily go camping during the nice months, being further from my family in MN and FL, being able to live in a house, having a car, being able to save more money and become financially independent, going fishing in Canada, going to the BWCA, having more vacation days.
There are more on both sides. The point is to make a huge list, but focus on what you will regret about each decision. Then weigh which will have more regrets. You should start leaning one way or the other. Combine this with the gut feeling you have and you should be able to make your decision.
6. Make the decision. Realize that you will have feelings of regret about that decision. But also realize that you would have regretted the other option too. It doesn’t really matter which one you chose, there are always downsides to both. Now you can live with the freedom and peace of mind that either decision wasn’t perfect.
Big decisions are tough and I haven’t made one yet on this. But I have truly realized that I can stop worrying about what I will regret because I will always regret something. Without the worry, you can make a clear choice and leave the stress behind.