Living With Regret: Impact on Work


August 4, 2013

“Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention”  ~ Frank Sinatra, My Way

Do you have regrets?

There was a study earlier this year called Regrets of the Typical American: Findings From a Nationally Representative Sample. Written by Mike Morrison from the University of IL and Neal J. Roese of the Kellog School of Business at Northwestern University, the study examined the affect that regret has on our life.  It’s worth reading because they have some very specific hypotheses on various types of regret such as those we could have taken action on vs. those we could not.  They also looked at whether regret related to education was more impactful than romance related regret.

I wonder what impact the regret we live with, if any, has on our work.  I like to think I’m someone that does not live with regret.  I try my best to make good decisions based on the information at hand at the time.  But, looking back there are always a few “what if” moments.  What if I had attended a different university, selected a different major, lived in a different city, or chose a different employer.  The way I differentiate my thinking is that even if there are moments I wish I could change, I left them go.  By “living” with the regret, it would paralyze me from achieving my full potential in the present.

What about you?  Do you have any regrets and if so, do you believe it has any impact on work?  Share in the comments please.  I’d love to hear if regrets focus more on work, romance, missed opportunities, education, or other areas.


  • My regrets in life are personal – choices I made that caused disruption or hurt for others. I know the life I am living is the life I was meant to live – and accept that, but will always carry some regret and disappointment regarding the impact of my path on others – I think this is a universal thing. I am grateful for where I am, and grateful for all the events and choices presented to me in life – as we age, I think our journey is about making the most of the moments we have, making the most of the situations we are presented with, and letting go of the “missed” opportunity. Thanks for the post.

  • I have had a few personal as well as professional regrets. But many times, I see how those paths I “could have taken” ended and the outcome would have been similar to the one I had with the path I ultimately took. For example: I could have worked in one big name salon; yet two years after that opportunity presented itself, the salon closed with no indication that it was in trouble.

    I guess it’s the romantic opportunities missed that leads me to ponder on occasion; however, it doesn’t rule my life. I am pretty happy with where I am, anyhow.

    Regrets, in my opinion, should always be learning opportunities. Everything I have done has led me to the place where I am, and it isn’t all that bad.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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