The final scene of the movie Field of Dreams (1989 ) chokes me up no matter how many times I see it. You know the scene, Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) realizes all of his work has brought him face to face with his father when he was a young man (Brought back to life via the magic of the baseball field he built in the middle of his Iowa corn farm). All of his regrets about his relationship with his dad culminate in him asking him to have a catch. A simple act he wishes he did more of when he was young.
For me, it brings back memories of playing catch with my father and all the dynamics of a father/son relationship. Now that I am a father, it makes me think about where I prioritize my time with my son (while he still likes hanging out with his dad).
But the bigger lesson is about holding on to so much regret. Regrets create sadness and frustration. Truth be told, everyone has them, myself included.
I sometimes spend time thinking about things I could have done differently when I owned my freight business, 19 years ago. Friendships that slipped away. Decisions I have made that did not go as planned. I can look at it all with regret, or I can look at it as an opportunity to learn and not repeat the same mistakes.
This time of year can be high season for regret as we reflect back on the year that was and make our lists of “If only” and “I wish I had done…”
Our memories allow us to relive too many moments in our past and marry them with the knowledge we have in the now. That is a disjointed (and unfair) feedback loop and ammunition for your pride to kick you in the head.
“If only I knew then what I know now” is the chorus of the song of regret.
For those of us that cannot build a magical baseball field where we get to go back and fix our regrets, we need to find a way to change how we think about them because regrets simply do not serve us.
When I can stop the regret stories in my mind, I make a choice to think of them as lessons. I can then use my memory and current knowledge to craft rules and solutions that form guard rails for my life and my work.
“What was the purpose of that lesson?” serves me far better than “How did I let that happen?”
Those lessons have turned into a few books, keynotes and dozens of businesses that I helped to not make the same mistakes that I did. I have tried to share my lessons in ways that help others take actions so they will have fewer regrets.
So, with 2019 nearly here and 2018 just about done, how will you choose to think about the year that was and the one to come?
It is my hope that 2018 has taught you many valuable lessons (and you see them this way) that you can put to positive use in your work and your life. Lessons that, if you allow yourself, will create better relationships and a better future for you, those you care about and your business.
Your journey is unfolding in front of you and the possibilities are without limit. Regret only exists in the rearview mirror. Don’t look back.
I hope that you can spend the holidays doing the things that bring you joy, with no regrets.
I will be going away with my son for a vacation. We will have some laughs, I hope to share some lessons with him, he will teach me a few things, we’ll create new memories and, maybe, we’ll even have a catch.
I wish you the same and more for you and yours.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!