How to Defeat the Evil Beast aka “Regret”

So check it out.  It’s funny how relationships morph as time passes, especially with one’s kids.  First they need you for everything; then they look up to you – you become their hero (I like this phase!); then they can’t get far enough away from you (could’ya just drop me off at the corner, dad); then at some point they realize you’re not a complete idiot; and finally they come to you seeking advice for some of the sticky situations they find themselves in.  What a ride!

So here we are, my oldest daughter and me.  I love her dearly.  She’s a college sophmore in one of the most exciting cities in the world, San Diego.  And she’s killing it, which makes me feel so good.  That poor girl has spent most of her life jumping through the logistical hoops of divorced parents, but now she’s on her own – and she feels great! Which makes me feel great!  She can go where she wants, when she wants, and she doesn’t need clearance from multiple families to do so!  Freedom.  Ah, sweet freedom.

So a while ago she calls me, and asks if I have a minute to chat.  Seriously?  We must be past the “drop me off at the corner” stage…this is sweet.

She asks me what I think about her declaring a theatre minor, and explains what that would entail.  A little more background here: until my daughter started acting and dancing, I think I’d been to a dramatic performance, like maybe twice in my life.  The theatre just wasn’t my thing.  But as her passion grew, so did mine.  And when she went away to school, the lack of dramatic opportunity for her was something we both missed.  So after a bit of discussion, I wholeheartedly encouraged her to add theatre to her studies.  If she didn’t, I counseled, she would most definitely live to regret it.

And that is my reason for writing today.  Regret.  Regret is an evil beast that must be destroyed – or at the very least, subdued.

The most important thing you must know about this beast is that it feeds on our inability to act – to change.  As we drag ourself to a job we hate, afraid to even contemplate taking the first step toward a new career, it feeds on our fear – and gets stronger in the process.  Sitting on the couch, cuddling a bowl of Dryer’s “Light”, feeling guilty with each bite, as our health deteriorates in the process, the beast laughs at us and gets stronger – as ironically, we get weaker.  Sleeping on the couch, rather than apologizing to our spouse for harsh words spoken earlier in the evening, we create a tasty late night snack for this unrelenting beast.

Lack of discipline, fear of the unknown, selfishness, all supply Regret with the nourishment he needs to get stronger, as our energy is depleted by guilt and a sense of hopelessness.  I know, I’ve been there.  Heck, I am there!

But there is hope, my friends!  There is hope!  The secret?  Movement!  That’s right, it’s that simple.  Every step – large or small – taken in the direction you know  you need to head, is like plucking a 12″ meatball sandwich right out of the mouth of the beast!

And the good news is that Regret has no stamina.  As long as you keep making progress, any progess, Regret weakens his grip on our lives.  Think about it…how can Regret hang around when we’re feeling good about having a few carrot sticks and low calorie veggie dip.  How can Regret grow as we apologize to our spouse and spend a few minutes in a loving embrace.  Even if the first job interview for our new career doesn’t go quite as planned, how can Regret rule as we leave the inteview with growing confidence that a new career is in fact possible.

So today, right now, I encourage you to MOVE!  You know the area of your life that is held tightly in the grip of Regret.  Get up, and move forward.  Remember, even a small step is like punching Regret squarely in the mouth!

And last, don’t be afraid to gang up on Regret.  Bring a friend to the fight.  Tell her what you are up to.  Encourage her to check in with you from time to time to ask what steps you have made and what steps you plan to make going forward.  It’s always good to have back-up, right?!

But whatever you do, MOVE and keep MOVING.  And before you know it, Regret will hit the floor, weak from malnourishment and dehydration, unable to move, unable to hold you back from your dreams.  So GO!  NOW!  MOVE!

Let’s make a statement here, a public declaration (Regret hates this stuff!)  Leave a comment (by clicking “leave a comment” up top or by entering the comment below)  and let us know what steps you’ll be taking!

Thanks for reading!

  • Mike Anderson

    This blog is my first, little step. I love to write, and I love to encourage. So here we go!

  • John Schmidt


    Since you and I have spent the same chronological time since high school, I can squarely agree with your observation, 100%. The regret is even more magnified in seeing and feeling the passage of time through the lens of your kids lives now. They are the ones who have it all in front of them now, without the 1,000 failures or missed chances to look back on. But, they will always need us, well into their adult lives, so it’s imperative to keep moving, as you implore, otherwise regret is set-up once again to thrive. Nice piece. Well done.

    • Michael Anderson

      Wow…it’s great to hear from you John! I am doing my best to instill patience in my kids. Patience to follow their heart while they are young, as opposed to rushing towards the “practical” – rushing to grow up. Do what you love while you’re young, and you still have the time to pivot as you grow. Odd that it takes patience to dream, but I think it does.