Daniel H. Pink has written a book called, “The Power of Regret.” If you are like me, I bet you didn’t think there was anything good about regret. I think we are right if regret is isolated.
Pink argues that you can use regret to make your future and present life better. That made sense to me. Frank Sinatra acknowledged regret in “My Way,” He sang that he had a few, but they didn’t seem to bother him much. Maybe he knew what Pink has discovered.
For those of you who are data lovers, Pink has more than enough studies and experiments to satisfy you.
One I thought was particularly interesting had to do with Optimizers and Satisfiers. Researchers fund that people who maximized for everything were less happy and had significantly more depression that the ones that satisfied themselves. An optimizer had to have the very best choice. The satisfiers were just that. The maximizers had more sensitivity to regret.
Pink tells us there are four primary types of regrets and the first one is foundation regret. These are major regrets. Not making good financial decisions. For example, not saving enough for retirement which is just overspending and under saving.
It could be in the realm of education. Maybe you don’t go for the advanced degree or you left school early. It could also involve your health. Maybe you haven’t taken are of yourself.
These are the chances we never took. Pink says, “What haunts us is the inaction itself.” You had a chance to travel the world, but you turned it down. Maybe you didn’t even enter that contest. You know, the one that could have shined a light on your talent.
One of my own regrets in this area was not taking a promotion early in my sales career. It involved moving to another state and I convinced myself it was better for my family if I said no.
You cheated on your spouse. You cheated on a test. As Pink says, …”the realm in which they occur…is less significant than the act itself.
The other thing we do is rationalize these moral infractions so we don’t always notice them right away. It might be years later before they grab us around the neck.
Pink says, “Our actions give our lives direction. But other people give those lives purpose. A massive number of human regrets stem from our failure to recognize and honor this principle.
Personally, I can include divorce here. Maybe you just never pursued the woman you really loved. I suppose the could be a boldness regret, but connection as well.
Regret Optimization Framework
As I mentioned above Pink’s book helps you use regret to get better. This framework helps you do that. Pink explains, “The Regret Optimization Framework holds that we should devote time and effort to anticipate the four core regrets: foundation regrets, boldness regrets, moral regrets, and connection regrets. But anticipating regrets outside these four categories is usually not worthwhile.” (Boldness mine)
So ask yourself if you are dealing with one of the big four. If you are not then “satisfice.”This is the word Pink uses to describer the actions of satisfiers mentioned above.
Get the book for all the other goodness!