The closer the goal, the stronger the regret (DW#525)

Psychologists who study regret map a three-stage process which triggers regret: there is action, outcome and recall. In other words, we take an action, we experience the outcome of our action and if the outcome is negative, we feel regret. 

The third aspect of regret, recall is rather interesting. The researchers found that "Feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointment are strongest where the chances of corrective reaction are clearest". In other words, the greater (and easier) the opportunity for corrective action which is not taken, the stronger the regret. 

Let’s try and understand this with a couple of examples: imagine you have an exam and you don’t study enough to get a passing grade. What the research suggests is that you will experience stronger regret if you get one or two percent below the passing grade than if you miss the grade by a long shot. 

Imagine you are catching a plane, get distracted, leave late for the airport, hit traffic and arrive two minutes after the gate closes. In this situation you would experience greater regret than if you missed the check in deadline by an hour. 

Can you see why? When you recall these events, you would be able to see how close your goal was. And you will imagine that with just a tiny bit of more effort you would have made it. 

And you will want to kick yourself for it. 

Once again, the point of these reflections is to learn from our mistakes and do things differently in the future. 

So go ahead and be brave. Reflect on the last year and make a note of the things you regret doing or not doing last year. Did you narrowly miss success in some areas? How would your life be different if you had made different choices? 

The good news is that while we are on this planet, we can begin to steer the ship of our life in a different direction by making different choices. 

Starting today. 

Join our blog!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.