Action or Inaction: Which Will You Regret More?

Are you going to be the one who looks back on your life and sees all the chances you took and know that even though all of them didn’t work out as planned, you had a heck of a time trying them? Or will you be that person that sits around dwelling on the what if’s? 

How many times have you heard someone saying, “I sure wish I would have…” or “If only I had taken the chance and…”. Our lives are full of decisions. And a decision we make every day is whether or not to do certain tasks. The question is which will you regret doing more – an action that you took, or an action that you didn’t take? For most us, we end up regretting the actions we didn’t take far more than we regret those that we did.


Often times we reflect back on our lives, or even a single day’s events and we think about the actions we took – or in some cases, didn’t take. It’s a natural part of who we are, and it is a great way to learn and grow as a human being by understanding and reflecting back on what you did. The only way we ever learn – and hopefully go on to inspire others – is by reviewing what we have done in our lives and examining how we can make the future better than what we did in the past. For many of us, when we reflect back it’s the lack of action that stands out as missed opportunities far more than the actions we took.

Many people who have families often – and usually too late in life – look back and realize one of the biggest things they didn’t do in their lives was spend more time with family and friends. They are always the first things we put off when we are overloaded with work or have other areas in our life that are demanding our attention. Unfortunately, they are also the very people who could have helped us through those difficult or stressful times in our lives, but we failed to reach out to them and spend time with them when we needed them the most. Many of us wake up one morning and we realize the kids are grown and our spouses have found interests of their own – and we wonder what happened. We call up an old friend and find out – to our surprise – they have been married for 4 years now and have a son or daughter of their own. We wonder when all this happened. It happened just like our lives happened – but we failed to make the time to celebrate their milestones with them in life.

Often times our lack of action comes back to haunt us in our career decisions. It’s normal for people to get comfortable with a job and not want to leave the safety and security of the company they are with. A great opportunity may arise, but we pass on it because we don’t like to take risks. Sometimes we find out down the road that the same loyalty we gave our job is not paid back to us when layoffs and downsizing occurs. It is usually then we realize that we had a wonderful opportunity staring us in the face, but we had our focus on the wrong thing in our life. Be an adventurer – take a risk. Good employees, those who give their all, usually never have to worry about finding a new job if things don’t work out. More often than not, when they take a risk and take a chance on a career opportunity they find that it opens doors they never thought would be open for them. It can truly by a career and life changing experience – but it requires you to take action on your part.

When it comes to our personal growth and development there are many opportunities we seem to pass by in life to help them grow. Each of us is unique – and we all have something special we can offer the world and those around us. In your life, set goals and objectives and then take chances when they are called for to help yourself grow. Don’t get stuck in a rut where you do the same thing day in, day out – be an adventure-seeker in your personal life. If you have always wanted to fix your car remote starter – enroll in an automotive class at the community college. If you don’t understand why a particular culture thinks the way they do – make a vacation out of it and explore their culture. Never pass up the chance, the opportunity, to grow your mind, body and soul!

So what will it be? Will you be the one who looks back on his or her life and sees all the chances you took and know that even though all of them didn’t work out as you planned, you had a heck of a journey trying them. Or will you be the other type of person – the one who sits around and regrets all the missed opportunities, connections and adventures because of your inaction?

Thanks to Life Insurance Lowdown for including this post in the Carnival of Life, Happiness, and Meaning.

5 Replies to “Action or Inaction: Which Will You Regret More?

  1. THANKS for participating in the Carnival of Family Life, hosted this week by Karen at Write from Karen!

    The Carnival will be live on Monday, January 14, 2008, so be sure to stop by and peruse all the excellent submissions included this week!

  2. Pingback: Life Insurance Lowdown » Blog Archive » Carnival of Life, Happiness and Meaning #29
  3. I definitely regret the choices that I didn’t take (inaction). I don’t regret the failures in my life so much as regret not taking more risks and following my heart. Then in December 2003, I decided I wasn’t going to live a life always wondering “what if” anymore. That was when I applied for and eventually got a job working on a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean. That job brought me to the other side of the world where I met some amazing friends, got to do things I never had a chance to do before, and met my wife. Had I stuck with my status quo mentality of the past, none of those things would have ever happened.

  4. Great post David,

    As a man of your experience in personal development, I’d be very curious to know how you would go about *curing* someone who faces this problem on a consistent basis.

    Personally, I faced this problem myself for much of my adolescence. I would set myself up for action, develop a comprehensive plan, begin to work it, and then my enthusiasm would fade and I would succumb to quitting as soon as another area of my life threw me even the slightest curve ball.

    While everyone is different, I personally only transcended this limiting mindset once I realized that I had to align both my conscious and my subconscious minds. As soon as I began taking consistent steps to do this, I quickly had no trouble with inner resistance. It was like I unlocked a door. Do you advocate anything in this regard with your coaching sessions?

    I suppose even something as simple as affirmations are a way to tap into the subconscious mind, as it responds eventually to consistent repetition.

    Keep up the great work on the blog,

    Best of luck in all your endeavors,

    The Intelligent Warrior

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