For many, this is definitely the time to look at the previous 12 months and take stock or reflect on all we’ve achieved. With introspection often comes regret, we regret the things we didn't do, the opportunities we didn't take and the people and places we didn't see.
I firmly believe we can learn from our regrets. We can build upon them. We can look at what worked for us, why we made the choices we made and make a plan with alternative actions which could offer a potential to make the next 12 months altogether more satisfying for all.
Here are three of the top regrets:
1. Bad Advice
“I wish I hadn’t taken advice from people lacking knowledge in the opportunity I was looking at, or were more screwed up than me”
10 years ago, when I started my Network Marketing business the industry was still largely misunderstood. Friends I approached for advice laughed; and my family thought I was about to join a cult! No-one had experience or knew of anyone who’d been successful in my prospective industry. Therefore the only advice offered was nebulous and misleading.
Why is it that we seek the counsel or need approval from well meaning people who often have no knowledge or are qualified to comment on the opportunities we are being offered?
For me, I was 30 something and in crisis. I realised I was living the life other people expected of me and not the one I truly desired for myself. The golden handcuffs of Corporate Britain adorned my wrists as I worked tirelessly in the “wage system” making other people money. I wasn't happy and I was far from living life the way I had intended. I needed to take contrary action.
In the past I had taken bad advice and regretted doing so. If I hadn't listened to my gut and trusted my instincts, then chosen the path less traveled I wouldn't be experiencing the life of time and financial freedom I am today.
There are no regrets living life on your own terms and I have no regrets making my own decisions based on the information I know to be accurate and true for me. Make your own decisions.
2. The Fear of Change:
“I wish I hadn’t stayed so long at the fair or left it too soon”
Sometimes I feel my loyalty is my downfall. I was head hunted into the IT industry in the late 90’s when the industry's growth curve looked like a rocket ship and there was no such thing as “Google” then! I was committed to my company and was working a strategy to progress through their sales hierarchy. At the end of one particular secondment, I was demoted back to my original position with excuses of budget cuts and with promises of future roles. I took them at face value and told the headhunter to come back in twelve months. I was a little scared and resistant to change. I was a people pleaser living in quiet desperation, trusting my company would come through but after 6 months nothing had changed except my expectations. I felt like a number but I had a new awareness and I was ready to move on. No longer a door mat, free from fear I acted on my new resolution, contacted the recruiter and put the wheels of change in action.
My resignation followed. One month of garden leave and I’d moved from publishing into IT and into the most lucrative role I'd ever experienced in my corporate career. I quadrupled my income in 12 months and my only regret was not taking the opportunity when it presented itself. I wish I had done it sooner.
If you've outgrown your role, there's no-where else to go, staying in a position out of misplaced loyalty or a fear of the unknown will only grow apathy and resentment in you. Boundaries need to be set and comfort zones need to be stretched. Once you've exhausted all your possibilities and if opportunity is not presenting itself, its time to get off the carousel and find another fair!
3. Conflict Management
“I wish I'd learned the skills to deal with toxic people and situations”
The Gordon of the past hated conflict; People pleasing and passive aggressive he’d rather walk away from a toxic person or situation than deal with it head on or find a resolution with healthy boundaries. I appreciate the phrase "you don't know what you don't know" and to be fair on myself, I never learned those interpersonal skills as a child but equally it has to be said, “you can’t reason with crazy”!! Either way you look at it this has been my Achilles heel for many years.
The good news is that now I have the tools to communicate maturely as an adult and set out healthy boundaries in order to live a happy and peaceful life. I can say what I mean without being mean and I can largely get what I want – if not, at least I can communicate how I feel, make my point and have my voice heard in any given situation.
To support this I work on my self-esteem daily. I meditate and make positive affirmations. I set boundaries and recognize acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Toxic people and situations disturb my equilibrium and create stress and anxiety. There is no place for that in my life. Today I take action to protect, heal and love myself. I am mindful and aware.
Life is good, but there's always room for better. What will you do differently in 2019?