Hello! I hope you’ve had a good weekend. I’ll cut the the chase on this one:
Recently, I learned about Daniel Pink’s American Regret Project
, a quantitative survey, where he was able to slice up
the responses by demographics: Do men have different regrets than women? Do older people have different regrets than younger people? He found, for instance, that people with greater degrees of formal education had more career regrets than people with less education. You can even participate in his global version here.
“Bingo. The trouble is nobody ever teaches us how to do that. If we do that, we’re going to end the bullshittery of “no regrets.”” - Daniel Pink
According to Pink, there are four core regrets: foundational, boldness, moral, and connection:
🏗️ Foundational regrets are about stability. “If only I’d done the work. If only I’d done the things that allow me to have some stability in my life.”
- 💪 Boldness regrets are about meaning: “I’m not going to be alive forever, when am I going to do something? If only I had taken the chance. You’re at a juncture in your life, you can play it safe, or you can take the chance. When people don’t take the chance, they often regret it. And even in follow-up interviews with people who took a chance and it didn’t work out, they’re generally okay on that. Because at least they did something.”
- 🧭 Moral regrets are partly about: “In my limited time here, it’s important for me to be a decent human being because part of what gives me a sense of meaning is that I am trustworthy, I am honest, I am a contributor.”
- 🔗 Connection regrets are all about love. “We want people who we love and who love us.”
These four core regrets are, according to Pink, ultimately about meaning, purpose, and love. Pretty visceral stuff, if you ask me.
This week’s attention-grabbing & rhyming as ever headline has been floating in my mind for some time. (It was introduced to me by my friend Hahn Rossman
in the context of tough decisions as we worked on my bike.)
I included it this week as I felt it applied to Pink’s opinion to regret as I see looking back and confronting your previous regrets — i.e. staring them in the eye rather than faking a false bravado of “no regrets” and cutting them loose as to not wallow in them. I agree with Pink and see this as a path to a life where in the future you have fewer regrets and a better sense of what really matters and what doesn’t.
Of course, the cold steel allegory could be applied to any painful cut to removing anything impeding healing but in this case, maybe regret is keeping that old wound open.
thank you, as always, for reading & sharing this newsletter,
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