Embracing Change: How to Shut Down Your Fear of Regret

by Alli Polin on March 30, 2016

embracing change let go fear of regret

When was the last time you asked yourself “What If” without your Fear of Regret leading the conversation?

What if I make a mistake?

What if this is the wrong choice?

What if I give up?

What if I stay the course?

Regret is a powerful force that can either have you stay with a status quo that’s not serving you, or propel you to make the leap into an unknown and unpromised future.

Come on. Letting the possibility of regret run your show? You deserve more. In fact, I’ll bet you crave more.

What Do You Crave?

To be seen.

Known.

Loved.

Respected.

Challenged.

Engaged.

Constant fear of a bad choice and regret won’t give you any of those things.

At One Time or Another, Almost Everyone Feels Stuck

It’s that feeling of “I’ll never forgive myself if I choose Option A and Option B was the better choice.” Most of the time the story ends with people staying put, sticking things out, telling themselves that what they need is more time. What they really need is to let go of that darn fear of regret.

It’s not only fear of an unknown future the keeps you put but fear that you’ll regret missing out on something that happens where you’re currently planted.

What if you quit a day too soon? A week? A month?

Talk about pressure! No wonder being deeply and totally stuck is such a common experience.

Choosing Change Without Fear of Regret

My husband came to me four years ago and shared a potential work opportunity that would take us from our safe suburban environment around the world. We didn’t labor over the decision and ruminate on the endless ways we could regret the move. We thought it through and opened ourselves to the call for adventure, a broader world view and friends and family thought we’d lost our minds.

Suddenly other people’s fears were being piled on me. They weren’t mine, yet I was drowning in them.

What if you hate it?

What if it’s awful?

What if the violence is out of control?

What if your house is awful?

On and on.

Easy. We’d make another choice and come home. Little in this world is permanent.

That’s when they stared at me like I had three heads. They also would bite their lip and give me a look like “Okay, lady. Have it your way but I know better.”

Turned out that they didn’t.

Change: It’s All in Your Perspective

Your attitude towards change has a heck of a lot to do with your perspective.

My friends were looking while holding the perspective of “things go wrong” while I was holding the perspective of “things go right.”

Perspective is your POV, your way of seeing. Until it shifts, you won’t make the leap.

Shift Your Perspective Using This Mental Trick to Embrace Change 

Think about the kinds of what if questions that you typically ask yourself when you feel the pull of change. You know, pondering if you should change jobs, give up your business, end a relationship or move around the world, etc.

Now, imagine a tennis court.

You’re on the left-hand side = fear of regret.

I’m inviting you to walk to the right side of the court = can’t go wrong.

Walk there in your mind’s eye or physically get up and move to the other side of the room.

Good. Take a moment to feel into this new side of the court. How would you feel if you can’t go wrong?

Free.

Empowered.

Lighter.

Adventurous.

Creative.

Now you ________________________.

From this place, I’ve got a couple new what ifs for you to ponder:

What if you are exactly where you need to be?

What if your next move, whatever you choose, is precisely the right one?

Whenever you find yourself looking at your life and leadership from the left side of the court, you can move on over to the right. Let go of the fear of regret; change.

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ March 30, 2016 at 7:17 am

Great post Alli. Such inspirational detail to help people leave regret behind — even before they start!

Love this post.
Kate

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Alli Polin March 31, 2016 at 1:46 am

Thanks, Kate! Your feedback means so much. I always appreciate your actionable insights on change too.

~ Alli

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Cynthia Bazin March 30, 2016 at 9:08 am

Great post Alli! Love your tips on shifting your perspective! Thank you for all your amazing posts!

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Alli Polin March 31, 2016 at 1:48 am

Amazing how small changes in our thinking yield huge results.

Thanks, Cindy!

~ Alli

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Chery Gegelman March 30, 2016 at 9:38 am

So interesting to share a part of this journey with you Alli!

I think I had less people asking the tough questions than you did. (But body language spoke volumes!)

I have found that each year as the anniversary of our move her approaches I have to walk around the entire court a few times before I can settle back in. …And then I’m back in the game.

How about you? Do you find yourself reflecting more near your anniversary date?

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Alli Polin March 31, 2016 at 1:52 am

I’ve been surprised recently to realize that we’re almost at four years. The time has gone shockingly fast. I need to do a better job of staying here both mentally and physcially so I can take all I can from this experience. I don’t want to look back and wonder, “where did the time go?”

We both moved to places with different social issues. Before I moved, almost every article I read referenced issues with alcohol and violence after dark. Lovely. In truth, I’m usually home in the evenings and not walking around alone at night – lessons I learned when I went to college in a city.

If I had let my fear that I’d regret our move, that I’d be a victim hold me back from this experience, I know that ‘s a decision I would have regretted for a lifetime.

~ Alli

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Brenda Pace March 31, 2016 at 7:53 pm

Love this, Alli!

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Alli Polin April 6, 2016 at 8:13 pm

Thanks, B!!

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Ethan Bridges April 1, 2016 at 7:23 am

Hi Alli,

I’m glad to have stumbled upon your blog.

This post delivers a great message. However, I thought I could classify regret into two types: regret out of doing something, and regret out of doing nothing; I prefer the former. It sure builds fear, but it’s not reason for us to stop. We should learn how to manage risks, test things, fail (but fail in such a way that we can somewhat reverse damages), and move on.

Change can save a life. I personally think it’s one of the most powerful things, if not the most, that can wake us up from the deceit of comfort.

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Alli Polin April 1, 2016 at 9:18 am

Welcome, Ethan! Thanks for taking the time to both read and comment. I strongly agree with you on doing something and doing nothing. Failing fast is something that I’m working on… taking a challenge instead of ruminating and then adjusting.

Powerful: the deceit of comfort. Has me thinking. I once wrote a post on why the comfort zone is not your enemy. As an advocate for change, as long as we’re not standing still, paralyzed by fear, it serves a purpose. After a stretch, recovery is essential.

Change can save a life. Whoa. Again, powerful. Hope you’ll stop here again so I can hear more.

All the Best ~

Alli

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