All too often I hear people regret the fact that they had not learned a lesson earlier in life. This sentiment is wrong for a number of reasons.
Regret vs. joy
People who regret not having learned a lesson earlier fail to realize how many people have not had the good fortune to learn that lesson at all. Many people go to their graves without having learned the lesson you just learned. So be grateful that you learned it and are able to enjoy the benefits from that lesson for decades to come. Teach others what you’ve learned and you’ll experience a whole new level of joy.
As time goes on and we experience new things we evolve and become better versions of ourselves. I’m sure some of you are thinking “I hope so, but I’m not sure that’s always true.”
Just remember that no one bats a thousand. We are human, which by definition means we’re going to make mistakes. I’m no more exempt from that aspect of humanity than anyone else. But I don’t let it get in the way of my personal growth. Indeed, it’s the mistakes that accelerate my personal growth and development.
As we learn from each experience, which means we’re not making the same mistakes over and over again, we become better version of ourselves. Years ago I had a client that I saw every month for 13 years. Sometime after the 10th year she said “You’re not the same person I hired years ago.” She was acknowledging the growth in my abilities. That’s as true for you as it is for me. We all become better versions of ourselves.
At times we bemoan our lack of perfection…the mistakes we make, the inadvertent pain we cause, the lack of results as well as the doubts, fears and anxiety we experience. But to me, the fact that we’re not perfect is what makes life so exciting and joyful.
You know as well as I do how much joy you experience when you find a way to improve your abilities, when you overcome a challenge you faced. You wouldn’t be able to experience that joy if you were perfect.
Indeed, I can’t imagine a more boring existence than if I knew everything, if I knew that every decision I made would produce the outcome I desired, that there was nothing left for me to learn. Relish your imperfections for they are the path to greater joy.
The next time you find yourself regretting not having learned a lesson earlier or bemoaning your shortcomings, your imperfections, remind yourself that:
- You’re fortunate to have learned the lesson, many aren’t so lucky.
- You’re evolving and as long as you continue to work toward becoming a better version of yourself you will enjoy life.
- Perfection is boring, overcoming imperfection is the path to great joy.
For our kids
When you see kids expressing regret, share with them the three insights listed above. Help them view lessons learned as a source of joy, not regret. For it’s in this realization that our personal growth generates great joy.
If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.
Dale, I love the way you take complex issues and boil them down to something tangible and useful. When I focus on progress (and not perfection) I’m more content and feeling good about myself. Thanks for your pearls of wisdom!
You’re welcome, Bill. I love the way you expressed it “When I focus on progress (and not perfection) I’m more content and feeling good about myself.” That is the feeling we all experience, unfortunately we don’t often recall these feelings when we fall short of our expectations. The good news is that we can train our brains to automatically recall the contentment and good feelings you expressed…even when we fall short of what we hoped to achieve. All the best!