Don’t Let Yourself Be Poisoned by Regret

Sometimes, seemingly innocuous things happen that can make you rethink your life. Last month, the set and setting of the Canadian television show Corner Gas was demolished, and it has me thinking about regret and missed opportunities.

It almost seems like poetic justice since the show once used the line “What red-blooded Canadian wouldn’t want to tear down a barn?” But I remain saddened by this because the show has been such a big part of my life, and a big part of Canada, through its six TV seasons and feature film.

This post isn’t about that franchise, but, as I mentioned, about missed opportunities. Three years ago I was living and working in Lloydminster, AB… just a 5-hour drive from Rouleau, SK which served as the fictional town of Dog River in the show.

My girlfriend at the time wasn’t interested in making the journey to the set and I didn’t push for it as much as I wanted to. Visiting that set was something that I really wanted to do, and I was so close I could taste it, but I let it pass me by with the justification that “I’ll come back and see it someday.” But I lost that chance on November 4, 2016.

Why is this important? Because it’s like being in New York City and not visiting the restaurant from Seinfeld. Being in San Francisco and not visiting the painted ladies from Full House. Being in London and not visiting Speedy’s Cafe from Sherlock. It matters to me because it represents another in a long list of missed opportunities that I’ll one day regret.

Even in my short life, I look back at a series of missed opportunities… Not starting sooner, not applying for that job, not asking that girl out, not taking that chance, not working harder, etc. I haven’t lived an uneventful life, I’ve had  a lot of great experiences, but I constantly wonder about what might have been. About the things I could have done, but didn’t. Always thinking that there will be another opportunity to do it someday… but as we all know, yet sometimes forget, there are no guarantees in life.

I try not to dwell too much on the past, but I believe that a healthy dose of realism and reflection can help us make better decisions in the future, and serve as a cautionary tale to others.

As the great philosopher Gary Vaynerchuk once said…

I beg you to take a shot. Roll up to that hot chick in the bar and ask her out. Roll up on that good-looking dude and ask him out for coffee. Roll up on your business idea and make it happen.

Because being 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and having regrets that you didn’t swing the bat is the worst regret of them all.

His more succinct quote “Regret is poison” has become something of a personal mantra for me, as the long-term effects of regret become increasingly clear. I actually use this phone wallpaper as a daily reminder to seize opportunities, and remind myself with it whenever I don’t feel like exercising, working, meeting new people, or anything else for that matter.

As the above quote and video allude to, it isn’t just about business. It’s about whatever is important to you. Dating & relationships, fitness & health, work & business, adventures & experiences… it doesn’t matter, just don’t put it off. Don’t expect that it’ll still be available to you later when you “feel ready.” There’s no such thing, you’ll never be completely ready, and it won’t wait around for you forever.

Do it anyway.

Whatever it is.

Seize that opportunity.

Because we always hear that life is short, but the truth is that life is long, and that’s a very long time to regret the things you didn’t do.

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