How Regret Can Help You Love Your Career

Look ahead and consider whether steps you're taking now will cause regret in the future.

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Curt Rosengren
If you live your life on autopilot, responding only to external demands and expectations, the odds that you're going to create a career that lights you up are slim to none. It's too easy for entropy to take over and suddenly, before you know it, you've taken the path of least resistance down a road you didn't really want to travel.

How do you avoid that? Pay attention! One of the most effective ways to keep your head in the game is to continually ask yourself one simple question:

"What would I regret?"

The beauty of this question is that it automatically takes you out of the pace and pressures of the moment and gives you a bigger-picture view. In essence, you're asking: "In the future, when I'm not up to my eyeballs in what feels so pressing to me right now, how would I feel about the choices I'm making?"

Use the question to take regular stock of the choices you're making. For example, each month, stop and take a look at your life and ask the question: "Is there anything I would regret?" Maybe it's something as substantial as realizing you're on the wrong path. Or maybe it's a smaller-scale regret, like the fact that you are about to say 'yes' to something you don't really want to do, or that you're passing up an opportunity to take a class on a subject that fascinates you.

Once you shine a light on a potential regret, you can evaluate whether or not to do something differently.

After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.