How to Respond to Regret

Regrets! We all have them, and, in some cases, more than we’d like to admit. In most cases, our biggest regrets are not regrets of action, but rather regrets of inaction…regrets of sitting comfortably on the sidelines while our greatest opportunities passed us by. Bill Tate was quite familiar with the regret of inaction.

The date was December 17, 1903. It was a cold, windy day in Martins Point, North Carolina. Stepping out of his home onto the porch, only to feel the sting of the cold air and see the ice puddles forming in his yard, Bill Tate quickly reasoned, “There won’t be any flying today!” And with that he returned to the warmth of his home.

His curiosity got the best of him. Later that morning he left his house, and as he approached the post office on his way to Kitty Hawk, a young boy named Johnny Moore screamed out, “They done it! They done it! Damn’d if they ain’t flew!” Tate’s heart sank as the realization of the biggest regret of his life gripped his mind–he just missed Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first flight.

So how do you respond to regret? Your list might be long, but it’s really not worth the emotional energy to rehash your past. You can’t do anything about it now, so let’s turn the page to a more important question (and a better response): What are you on the verge of regretting if you don’t take action?

Where has inaction gripped your mind and placed shackles on your feet? Maybe you’ve been dreaming of starting a business. Perhaps you never finished your degree, or maybe you want to pursue your masters or doctorate. Maybe you’ve rationalized why it’s not the right time to make a bold leadership decision at church. Or perhaps your heart has grown cold as you’ve resisted the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know what regret is knocking at your door. But I do know this: Delay is the precursor of regret. The best response to past regret is to take action on the next regret lurking in the shadows.

Question: When you wake up 12-months from now, will you be able to point to today as the day your action button was taken off of pause?