Turn Your Regrets Into Goals

If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?

I recently finished watching a television show called Being Erica. It was about a woman who basically hated where she was in life, and was given the opportunity to go back in time to fix all of her regrets. In the end, she gained the confidence and ability to create her dream life. Then, I started watching Hindsight, which is also about a woman who felt she had messed up her life and wanted a do-over and – ta da! – was given the opportunity to go back in time to start over.

It sounds nice, to be able to get a fresh start, knowing everything we know now, but in reality it’s just not possible. And to be honest, I really don’t think I have the motivation to live my life again! Besides, I feel that everything happens for a reason, whether they’re life lessons or hidden opportunities, and I wouldn’t want to change that.

However, those shows made me take a good look at my life and wonder if I would be somewhere different, somewhere greater, if I had only made better choices?

I can’t help but think that the answer is yes; I’ve made a lot of mistakes and believe I could have a much better life if I had only known then what I do now.

For example, I would have been better with my money (I think a lot of people have this regret). I would have saved more, spent less, worked harder. More specifically, I wouldn’t have bought a new car and taken on car payments. Instead, I would have bought another cheap, used car. In retrospect, that would have been the smart thing to do.

Turn your regrets into goals.

Even though we can’t go back in time to fix our mistakes, we can learn from them and create our dream life.

I might have had to deal with the financial stress of buying that new car, but now that it’s taken care of I know my next car will be one I can afford to pay with cash, instead of financing it.

So think about this:

Think about your regrets

Without dwelling on your mistakes and regrets, simply think of the things you would have done differently if you were given a do-over. And I mean, really think about it! Not every regret is worth fixing and some don’t even really affect our day to day lives (other than some mild embarrassment we experienced at the time).

I’m talking about the regrets that have made your life more difficult, or worse, like my decision to finance a car when I wasn’t really in the position to do so. That decision made those years I owned my nice, new car so much more difficult because I could barely afford the payments! It was nice to have a reliable, cushy car, but in the end it caused me a lot of stress and poorly affected my credit rating.

Another example is school. A lot of people don’t go to school for what they really want to. Instead they let their guidance counselor, they’re teacher, or parents – or even themselves – convince them to take something else. That can be a big regret for a lot of people!

I encourage you to write down at least three things that you regret, something you wish you could change.

Consider why you have this regret.

Like I said, not every regret is worth fixing. Some things happen for a reason and we need to get over it. But a lot of regrets are regrets because they’re still affecting our lives today!

For each regret, stop to consider why. Why do you regret it? Did it alter your life in a negative way? Is it still making your life more difficult? Or was it just something embarrassing that happened?

Now turn your regrets into goals.

Instead of thinking if only you could go back, start applying those things to your life now, in the present. Or  rather, turn your regrets into goals.

After I sold my new car to finish paying off the loan and reduce my monthly expenses, I decided to start saving money to buy a used car, one that I can actually afford.

If you regret not going to school for that thing you always wanted to, why not find a way to go back, or at least take a few courses in your spare time? Or even online courses?

There are a lot of different ways you can turn that regret of yours into a goal, and eventually a reality!

Another example: I regret letting myself get out of shape and gain this much weight. While I don’t have a problem with being a plus-size lady, the worry of inheriting my family’s history of diabetes, heart disease and cancer has me feeling quite terrible. Not to mention, not being able to keep up with my daughter and our pup at the park doesn’t make me feel so good either. Even though I wish I could go back in time and force myself to keep up with my gym routine and healthy eating, I can’t. I let myself go and now I’m dealing with the consequences.

What I can do though, is stop this cycle of regret and feeling sorry myself and start living an active, healthy lifestyle again. I can set goals for myself based on this regret: exercise goals and healthy eating goals.

Consider your list of regrets and think of ways you can turn them into realistic goals.

Think of what you need to do to accomplish your goal.

There’s no point in making a goal if you don’t plan out how you’re going to accomplish it.

Remember to follow the SMART rules to goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.

Now, seriously, stop letting your regrets hold you back from living the life you truly want! It’s never too late to start doing the things that make you happy, and to be the person you want to be!

However, I know like most things in life, it’s easier said than done.

So, what are some of your regrets you can turn into goals?
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21 Comments

  1. Great article! Hey we have all made some mistakes here and there. Some huge, some small but still somehow significant. Its not where we have been but where we are headed and I love your blog post. Thanks for the print outs!

    • Cole Nemeth Reply

      Thanks! That’s so true, focus on the present and the future!

  2. One of my biggest regrets was not going to school for what I wanted to go to school for. Now, 10 years later… I’m changing careers and going back to school!

  3. I agree, everything in our life happens for a reason and helps to shape there person we are today. There’s no sense in living in regret, might as well learn from it and move on. Great post!

  4. Elizabeth O Reply

    I think it’s a wonderful fantasy to be able to go back and fix things but, in truth, I’d rather not. I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes and I believe the experiences have been both humbling and humanizing! <3

    • Cole Nemeth Reply

      Yes, exactly! Without my past experiences I wouldn’t be who I am today.

  5. This is great! Its actually something I think about a lot… I think it comes with my anxiety. But if I had the choice I absolutely would not go back in time and change a thing! The best things in my life – my fiancé and my daughter – are both things that might not have happened if I were to change things! Its a great idea to turn regrets into goals, and money is definitely a good one!!

  6. I lvoe that oute about turning mistakes into lessons…I thin kthat is what we should all strive to. Trying to make up for or fix the past is close to impossible but learning from them…that I can do!

  7. I have been thinking about my regrets and past a lot lately because I will be 25 in a few months and need to do a complete 180 on things. Thanks for the great tips, it’s never too late to start fresh and accept what you cannot change but change where you are now. SO I will create my dream life.

    • Cole Nemeth Reply

      Yay! You can totally do it! I turned 25 this year and realizing that I’m officially halfway to 30 was eye-opening for sure. I made a lot of big changes this year and I know you can, too!

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