No matter what I do at the moment, I always seem to be faced with an internal disagreement or regret about a decision I made. A simple walk to the shop suddenly turns into “your right leg might not be so weak if you just had the surgery in Birmingham.” Or whilst planning the many upcoming trips and weddings, “you better hope your face is back working by then, something that probably could have been avoided altogether if you hadn’t asked for a transfer to London.” Even when these disagreements subside, I’m left with the dreaded “what-ifs” and the knowledge that the voice does have a point.
I’m sure at some point we all go through life harbouring the regret, shame and guilt that comes with feeling like we made a “bad” decision. In the moment, it can seem like we’re making the right choice. Only once the impact of it has truly set in do we realise that maybe our judgement was a little off.
Whenever my inner critic pops up, I remember that there are so many reasons why you should never regret a decision you made.
Here are ten:
1. By making a decision, you gain the opportunity to become the creator of your own life
Whether or not it was the right one, accepting that you made the decision is a reminder that at some point it was what you wanted. Transferring my medical notes to London was a bit impulsive looking back, but it also gave me the control that I felt I needed at that time. In fact, the only bit of control I had was getting to choose where I had this life-changing surgery. Owning your decisions and taking responsibility for them is the first step to feeling lighter about the choices you made.
2. Accepting the disappointment that comes with the consequences of a decision forces you to grow as person
We can’t prepare for tragedy or something awful to happen and viewing every opportunity as a practice run for disappointment just weakens our ability to be resilient. Experiencing disappointment gives you the chance to learn a lesson or insight from something and a new way of living. It presents a new perspective and an opportunity to strengthen your resilience by accepting that sometimes bad stuff will happen but you can handle it when it does.
3. “Bad” decisions teach you how to forgive yourself
Whenever we make a “bad” decision we are often the hardest on ourselves. We blame ourselves before we acknowledge that there will be hundreds of opportunities in our lives to make imperfect decisions. After all, that’s what makes us human! Accepting this means that you can finally forgive yourself and move forwards.
4. Undesirable decision outcomes add colour to your life
Everything I do now seems to be done with meaning and purpose. That walk to the shop might awaken my inner critic, but it also allows me to see how much colour there is to my life. That’s exactly what “bad” decisions do. They force us to accept that life isn’t simply black and white. Feeling every emotion, struggle and disappointment results in a colourful life. There are pigments to yours because of the choices you make and each one adds a new shade and far more meaning.
5. The outcome of a decision forces you to reassess what’s important, what you value and how you want to live your life
We don’t always appreciate things until we no longer have them. Nor do we usually know what it is we want until we’re faced with the opposite. Decisions that present us with unfavourable outcomes remind us of what we desire in life. Waking up to this becomes a starting point to go after what we want and leap into the direction we want our lives to take.
6. Making the wrong decision in life reinforces the freedom you have to actually make your own choices
How liberating is it to be in the driving seat? Sure, you might be thinking that the outcome could have been different. But there’s a chance it also might not have been. It could have been the same, or even worse than reality and it could have been in the hands of someone else.
7. The wrong decision forces you to appreciate the small things and notice what’s going right in life
You can’t fully enjoy the little things in life without experiencing some challenges and hardships, and you need to experience some sour to notice the sweet. By making “bad” decisions you get to look at what areas in your life have gone right and you begin to truly notice the small things in life and really appreciate the good. Plus, the impact of “bad” decisions means you can fully embrace the “good” choices you make and when things “go right.”
8. Your decisions don’t define who you are as a person
“Bad” decisions give you the chance to remember who you are as a person. You are not the decisions you make. You are so much more than them and each outcome serves as a wake-up call to that. Not all decisions are going to work out but each one provides an opportunity to reframe your thinking and who you really are.
9. It’s impossible to make a wrong decision throughout life as each decision will only lead to experiences
The single most important thing I learnt to make the burden of a seemingly “bad” decision lighter is that there is no such thing as a wrong decision. Each will lead to different outcomes, but each present opportunities to learn and experience things. It’s not important to focus on the different outcomes of decisions and the path that each could have led to. Instead, see the one you did choose as a chance to learn and gain something from it.
10. The choices you make encourage you to search for positives and the reason behind what has happened
Someone once said to me “things don’t happen for a reason, you make the reason out of what has happened.” I wasn’t sure how I felt about this at first as part of me does believe that actually, things do happen for a reason and when you look back on your life those reasons can stand out so obviously. But when they don’t, “bad” decisions can prompt us to search for the reasons and the positives that have come from them. Only after searching are you able to find some pay-offs and justifications for why things had to happen the way they did.