Lessons from Aunt Beck – Lesson #3: Living with No Regrets

by Becky Morris
continued from August 3, 2009

When we got to hole #4, the conversation between Aunt Beck and I was really flowing. We had established a bond. I was asking a lot of questions and Aunt Beck was getting to tell her story and what a phenomenal story it was. I was just trying to soak up as much of her wisdom as she was willing to share. I doubt she even felt she was imparting any wisdom, but she was.

So I asked her this question, “Looking back over your life and the past 90 years, if you had anything to do over, what would it be?

Aunt Beck thought for a few seconds and answered, “Absolutely nothing.”

Now I was expecting a bit more than this. I figured everyone had at least one “mulligan” they would use if they had the opportunity. For me, there was a time I might have had a hard time listening to the Frank Sinatra song “I Did It My Way” because of the line that goes something like, “regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”. There was a time when I seemed to have a lot of regrets in my life. Regrets like wrong decisions, misused words, time I have wasted, etc.

But as I think about Aunt Beck’s response, I am reminded that every decision I have made seemed like the right decision at the time. So, if I had to do it over again, I would probably make the same decision. Aunt Beck doesn’t need any mulligans, and I won’t either.

I can change the way I view my regrets – “They are life lessons” – and I can appreciate what changed because of those decisions. That’s looking back, but I still have a long way to go until I reach 90. So I can also look ahead with much greater Purpose, with greater intention and, therefore with greater passion for what is right. Put the two perspectives together and when I’m 90 if someone asks, “If you could do anything over, what would it be?” my response will be:

“I would do absolutely nothing over, I don’t have time to do anything over because I have so much yet to do!”

Five Steps to Better Decisions
How can you avoid regrets, especially when it comes to decision making? We believe there is an effective methodology to making great decisions. The process looks like this:

  1. Identify the problem or question – the process of clarifying the problem begins to bring solutions to light and also helps determine how serious the problem is.
  2. Gather and analyze information – this step is absolutely critical if you are going to feel comfortable and confident with a decision.
  3. Develop and choose alternative solutions – after analyzing the information, you will realize that there are a number of choices before you. Rarely does a decision only have one alternative. Keep asking, “What other possibilities are there?” It is far easier to choose the best alternative from many than it is to accept the best answer from among a few.
  4. Take action – decisions are only mental exercises and do not yield results until they are put into action.
  5. Review and evaluate decisions – this will allow you to change or alter your action if the decision is not yielding the right results and it allows you to evaluate your progress as a decision maker and thus improve your decision making ability.

Living with no regrets? Life without mulligans? I believe it is very possible. I don’t have time for regrets, because I have too much I still want to do.

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About pdncoach

A Go-Giver business coach working with leaders whose success depends on the performance and productivity of others. I coach individual leaders and their teams... in small to mid-size businesses, ministries and non-profits... to accelerate their results and achieve dreams by getting past the difficult, strategic challenges of their current realities.
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