By Forbes Coaches Council
Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.
Mistakes are a part of life. Some try to put a positive spin on it by calling them “learning opportunities,” but let’s face it: There are going to be times when you mess up in a big way, and depending on the results, you may deeply regret your course of action.
It’s OK to feel remorse and sadness when a personal or professional decision has a negative outcome. However, it’s important to channel those feelings and use them to grow in the future. According to 12 Forbes Coaches Council members, here are some healthy and productive ways to deal with your regrets.
1. Forgive Yourself
Forgiveness is letting go of the hope for a better past. Forgive that earlier version of yourself who made choices or decisions based on what you had at the time. Let go of changing the past; instead, learn from your past. Then you can help someone else who is going through a similar situation, which gives purpose and meaning to your former “regrets.” – MJ Impastato, H2H Systems.
2. Grieve Your Loss
Regret often involves a loss of what could have been. It’s ambiguous grief yet still grief. To move past regret, you must grieve the loss to truly let it go. Other times, you may be shaming yourself and you may need to give yourself permission to be imperfect and learn from your action, behavior or decision. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings of regret as a first step. – Jenn Lofgren, Incito Executive & Leadership Development.
3. Take The ‘Serenity Prayer’ To Heart
I remember tagging along with my mom to her Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. They would recite the serenity prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” To deal with regret in any area is to accept what cannot be undone, forgive others and self, and focus on what can be made better. – Dr. Keita Joy Ductant, The Leader’s Life Coach.
4. Change The Meaning Of Your Failure
In our professional lives, we often regret decisions we made that resulted in failure. We can easily lament and beat ourselves up over this continuously. Remember, we attach meanings to our experiences. It is up to you to change the meaning of that failure. You can have it mean anything you want. Only focus on the new positive meaning. Your brain can not ignore the meaning you select to give it. – Tyron Giuliani, Selling Made Social.
5. Use A Growth Mindset
When you know better, you do better. Realize that your capabilities are not fixed. That your knowledge and approach is constantly growing by taking in new information, seeing different perspectives, making mistakes, even failing big. Look forward with a “growth mindset” that you will develop from your choices made in the past. Now that you have new information you’ll make even better decisions. – Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC.
6. Understand The ‘Violation’ You Made Against Your Standards
Feelings like regret and guilt are very clever emotions that tell you the decision you just made is out-of-whack with the “true you.” By accepting job A over B, you somehow violated one of your own rules or standards. You broke integrity with yourself. The first step is to reflect and figure out how. Then, you must decide how you will make things right and how to avoid doing this again. – Derrick Bass, Jr., Clarity Provoked.
7. Let Regret Motivate You
Instead of living with the weight of regret, let it motivate you to change something, big or small, in your habits or commitments. Regret should be able to power change. Unfortunately, the world tells us to repeat the phrase, “I have no regrets,” and we feel we need to clear regret this way. I say no. Admit regrets and let them burn a little, motivating you to do more and do better. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
8. Reframe The Situation With An ‘If … Then’ Statement
Regret can be an opportunity to learn an important lesson about yourself. The first step is to accept it so you don’t let it define you.Then reframe your thoughts in “if…then” construction, such as “If I had gotten married, then I wouldn’t have pushed myself so hard to start my own successful business.” The key is to highlight the ways the event you regret contributed positively to your life. – Maria Pastore, Maria Pastore Coaching.
9. Identify The Emotion Behind Your Regret
Regret is self-defeating and drains emotional and physical energy. Take a moment to check in with yourself. Access the emotion behind the regret. Are you disappointed, angry or grief-stricken? Ask yourself why you are having this reaction. What could you have done differently? Acknowledge the loss, be intentional about how you would approach a similar situation next time. Then move on. Let it go. – Frances McIntosh, Intentional Coaching LLC.
10. Apologize, Then Make An Action Plan To Change
Offer a sincere apology to the person you offended. Make a clear action plan for changing the behavior you regret. Use the model: situation, action and result. Identify the situation that you tend to make the mistake, plan three action steps to substitute this behavior with a new one, and note the impact it could have. Practice and repeat. – Beth Kuhel, Get Hired, LLC.
11. Share It So Others Can Learn From It
It is common for regret to also bring in the feeling of shame, and when we feel shame, we are less likely to share our stories or experiences. Don’t let that happen to you. Let the light in on your regret by openly sharing it with others in a sincere, authentic way. If your lessons of regret can help them avoid a similar situation, it has served a purpose, and your pain can be of value. – Lesha Reese, Lesha Reese, LLC.
12. Acknowledge It And Move Forward
You are just too darn hard on yourself. You messed up, had a misstep or things went terribly wrong, but this is not the end of the world. Learn something from what happened and keep it moving. The more time you waste sulking in your misfortune is time you could be spending doing and being amazing. -Kiki Ramsey, Kiki Ramsey International.
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This content was originally published by Forbes Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Forbes Magazine