The Benefit of Regret

The Benefit of Regret

I look back at my life, and there are things that I could be proud of.  I am the first in my family to have gone to college, the first in two generations to have served in the military, and the first in my family to own a business.  

But that’s not what I think about.  

I don’t lie awake at night thinking about the accomplishments under my belt or the money in my bank account.  

What keeps me up at night are my regrets.  These aren’t regrets about what I did. I’m proud that I got to serve in the Marine Corps and I’m proud of the fact that I graduated from college.  

My regrets revolve around what I didn’t do.  I didn’t get the most out of my experience in the Marine Corps because I was always thinking about what I was going to do when I got out.  Because of this, I feel like I missed out on many of the lessons my service could have taught me and I failed to enjoy my time being young.

I didn’t explore becoming an entrepreneur while I was in college because I kept myself in a bubble: concerned only with getting good grades as if they were a scorecard for life when it was just a play to impress my family and others.  I never networked and I sought no opportunities outside of school.  I just sat there, with my head buried in books to get my piece of paper that showed I was smart. Had I only admitted to myself earlier that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, the following years would have been much happier and I’d be ten years ahead of where I am now.  

My biggest regret is the time I spent in depression. My main focus was feeling sorry for myself rather than pushing myself to become stronger, though opportunities to become better were all around me.  Because of this, I missed out on a decade of life where I lost myself in my own dark thoughts.  

These are my regrets, and yes they do haunt me, but they also teach me and guide me.  They are the ghosts who stand behind me as I run my business telling me not to quit.  They are the spirits who touch me on the shoulder and remind me that every moment I feel sorry for myself is a moment wasted. They are the voices that remind me that my fallen brothers no longer have the opportunities that I have and that any time I don’t spend making myself better is a dishonor to them and their sacrifice.  

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing at this moment.  Open your eyes.  Allow yourself to see what is before you. If you are breathing at this moment, you may not have much, but you do have opportunities.  And if you have regrets, then let those regrets inspire you to one fact: you have regrets because at one point in your life you did not live for the present and you missed out on something.  Make a commitment to yourself to be present in every aspect of your life, and allow yourself to build the life your future self will thank you for.