Learning From Your Past
It's different than regret
Every day we make decisions, most of which are good, but a few bad ones always seep through. These decisions can have varying levels of effects on our lives. Regardless of the weight these bear, the thing we should remember is to learn from these decisions, so we can make better ones next time.
I bring this up now as it’s the end of the year. This is the time we reflect upon our wins and losses. It’s always good to reflect, the key thing about reflection is to learn, not regret.
Like most people, I have tons of baggage. I have led a textured life thus far. It is layered with great, good, and shitty memories. These memories were all triggered by the decisions I mentioned earlier. These decisions are made daily, small and large, but they all have outcomes. These outcomes are the things we live with, they are the things we remember and focus on. Unfortunately, I, like yourself, focus on the negative over the positive. Well, traditionally I have, but I have been trying to do otherwise.
Regretting your choices and decisions yields nothing but sadness and anger. How can we use the bad and good choices of our lives to make better decisions in the future and not beat ourselves up about them?
Something I have been practicing lately, as I reflect on the past, or as a memory seeps though, is thinking about what I learned from the situation. As an example, my wife and I moved from our apartment in Vancouver WA to an apartment in Portland OR. If you know the area, you know it is just across the Columbia River, so the actual distance was short. We decided on the move and completed the move in a matter of a week and a few days. It was a quick decision due to some personal reasons, but what I will say is that it was done too quickly by us. This lead us to make a decision that was less than beneficial to us. Now after we are moved in and are regretting the situation I have time to practice my new way of thinking.
The questions I reflect upon are:
What happened? Go over the situation in detail – before, during, and after.
Our lease was ending soon, we looked at potential places to live, we moved in without seeing the unit in person, the unit doesn’t best suit our needs
What went right?
We are located near some great food, coffee, and the like. I can exercise more aggressively due to being on the ground floor.
What went wrong?
We are on a busy corner with a lot of noise, so we cannot open our windows often. Closet space is tough.
Based on the information above, what did I learn?
Always see an apartment in person if possible. Take more time weighing the pros and cons.
What can I do in the future to prevent the “wrong” from happening again?
Take more time. Explore the apartment and direct neighborhood more.
What can I do in the future to enrich my next decisions based on this one?
Be more methodical about finding an apartment. Make a list of needs and wants. Take our time.
Answers to 5 and 6 might be similar, it is mainly posed to make you think of the solution from different angles.
I have used this method fairly abstractly up until now. But as I get older, wiser, less attached to regret, I am going to practice this in a more formal manner.
You don’t have to follow my method or even practice one yourself. Reflection in a formal manner is not for everyone. But if you find yourself regretting the past, just think about what you learned from it. It might have taught you more than you thought.
I hope you have a wonderful new year weekend. I hope you had a chance to rest and recharge over this winter break.
Note: Lately, I have been sending a thread out as preamble to the upcoming weeks’ letter. If you want to contribute to the conversation I’d appreciate a chat to stimulate my process. I might start featuring these responses in the future too. Let me know what you think!