In our life coaching methodology, we believe life is supposed to be “catch and release,” not “catch and carry.” We make what we perceive as a mistake, and then we punish ourselves for it over and over and over.
Good people have lots of guilt and regret about the choices and mistakes they’ve made. At Lifeonomics, we believe guilt is supposed to be the rumble strip on life’s highway, not a lane. When we get off course, the rumble strip makes a big noise. We quickly self-correct and get back on course.
When I was a teenager, my dad was trying to teach me to drive. He noticed I had a hard time keeping the truck in the lane. I kept veering toward the shoulder. He said, “Son, where are you looking.”
I said, “I’m looking at the front corner of the truck, and I’m trying not to cross the white line.”
He said, “Son, stop trying to focus on the rumble strip and trying not to hit it. Shift your focus much further down the road and glide to that point. Drive to the place you want to be.”
We will drive to whatever we focus on.
It seems silly to continue punishing ourselves for choices or mistakes by finishing the entire trip on the rumble strip, but that’s what happens. Obsessing is the act of revisiting something far past its usefulness. Regret is obsessing over a past we simply cannot change.
This week’s challenge is the toughest one yet. Make a list of every single regret in your life. Care about yourself enough to be brutally honest. Write all your regrets down on a piece of paper. Then apply the L Steps.
First, Let It Be what it is. Face the facts with as little judgment as possible.
Then ask yourself, “Have I learned for this?” Have I changed my thoughts, words, and actions? Have I adapted my systems, strategies, and structures? If not, by all means, do so.
But if you have learned from it, Let It Go.
Take my dad’s advice. Grab your own ears. Shift your focus down the road. And drive to where you want to be. Good luck with the challenge!
About Joel Holdford