Do you have summer regrets? Now that summer is coming to a close, do you have regrets about the things you didn’t do for yourself, with your family, or for work? Many of us go into summer with big plans of family time, road trips, books to read, and tasks to accomplish around the home. As summer comes to a close, I am realizing that I did not hang all those pictures, get that hole in my jacket repaired, or start writing in that gratitude journal. Should those items now become regrets? Or should I reflect and reshape them to become goals for right now? Who said that just because summer is over on the calendar we can’t still work towards our aspirations? According to Daniel Pink in his book The Power of Regret, the feeling of regret can be used in effective and powerful ways.
Thinking more broadly about our summer to-do list could help us achieve what we want. Maybe, my list was not about those individual tasks. Maybe it was more about making a smooth transition to the west coast. Did I accomplish that? For the most part, we are settled in and have a routine. I did not yet unpack every single box or hang every picture but we have everything we need for daily living unpacked and we know where things are, finally! I did not start the gratitude journal. Maybe my real goal is to feel grateful, journal or not. I feel gratitude every day for my family, including our crazy but loving pets, for our home, and for so much more. I have decided that instead of spending the fall feeling regretful about all I didn’t do this summer, I will use this feeling of regret to reflect and reframe new broader goals for the fall.
- Turn your rumination over what you did not accomplish this summer at work or at home into a reflection and reframing of what you could do.
- Think about what you did that brought you a sense of joy, spaciousness, and freedom. Revel in that for a bit.
- Create some broader goals/values.
- Create reachable and small tasks to reach those goals. Start small. ‘Small habits and little choices change us every day.’ notes James Clear author of Atomic Habits
- Take one moment at a time.
- Be kind to yourself. As Dr. Kristen Neff, a self-compassion expert, states…
“Happiness is not dependent on circumstances being exactly as we want them to be, or on ourselves being exactly as we’d like to be. Rather, happiness stems from loving ourselves and our lives exactly as they are, knowing that joy and pain, strength and weakness, glory and failure are all essential to the full human experience.”
Next time you feel regret, try to use it as an opportunity to reflect and reset. I know I am.