There are some regrets that arrive early enough to be fixed, but others strike us later as we gain a clearer picture of what could have been done. Here are a few to avoid:
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1. Not considering more options. The situation may not be either/or. There may be a number of options. Try to list four or more. This escapes the trap of “Do nothing, do something extreme, and do something in-between.” Searching for many options will generate some creative choices.
2. Excessive pride. Watch out for your ego. It can stand between you and reality and may cause you to try to win a battle when you should be trying to win the war.
3. Acting while angry. That sarcastic remark will be remembered for years and not to your benefit. Anger clouds your judgment. It is not your friend.
4. Not buying time. Give yourself time to think and to consult. Be wary of deadlines that allow for neither.
5. Not negotiating. I’ve seen people simply resign when they could have negotiated a severance package. It doesn’t hurt to ask. You have nothing to lose and something tangible to gain.
6. Underestimating costs and overestimating benefits. It can be easy to underestimate the costs of unethical behavior and to overestimate its benefits.
7. Thinking you can change the unchangeable. Some working environments are beyond improvement. Raising the expectation that a miraculous turnaround is coming will only guarantee disappointment.
8. Not developing your skills. It makes no sense to neglect the “important but not urgent” skills that may strengthen your promotion chances years down the road. Don’t let a preoccupation with the immediate sabotage your future.
9. Not building alliances. Few of us can succeed by ourselves. Create your own Think Tank and use it. Make sure it includes a few undiplomatic folks who are willing to use one-syllable words when you are wrong.
10. Not letting it go. We all have scars. That doesn’t mean we should examine them on a frequent basis. Those who do become bitter and their bitterness is a noticeable characteristic.
Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.