Most of us have regrets. But none of us want to have more of them. Think about how many times you've said (or thought to yourself): "I work way too much..." "I should have followed my heart..." "I really need to keep in better touch with my friends..." "I wish I could take back what I said..."

While we can't erase our regrets from the past, we CAN learn how to abolish regret from our lives in the future. This doesn't mean that we won't make mistakes, but instead that we'll be better able live with the decisions that we make. For instance, one morning last week before leaving for school my son asked me if I would play basketball with him when I got home from work. This couldn't have come at a worse time - I had two pressing deadlines, back-to-back conference calls that would go into the evening, and ten things on my to-do list that were still hanging over my head. Couldn't he see how busy I was? My first inclination was to tell him that we'd have to find another time. But when I looked into his eyes, what I saw was a little boy who just wanted to spend some quality time with his dad and now I was going to turn him away. What was I thinking? It wasn't his fault that I had so much on my plate.

With a little creativity, I worked my schedule around and had a basketball in hand when my son came down to greet me as I walked though the front door.  His face lit up as we headed out to the driveway, which doubled as a makeshift half-court.  We played "horse" and it was clear my son had been practicing.  Although it was a little embarrassing to get beaten three times in a row by an 11-year, it was probably the most fun I've had in over a month.

To avoid the regret of not spending enough meaningful time with the people you care about most in your life, consider the following:
• Strive to balance the priorities that compete for your time.
• Get creative in how you schedule your day.
• Block out "quality time" and stick to those commitments.

While you can't always put life on hold, don't lose hold of what - and who - matters most to you.

Now it's your turn: think of a time when you've regretted not spending quality time with someone important in your life. What was the impact on your relationship with this individual? How did you work through this regret, if at all? What will you do differently or better to avoid this regret going forward?

About the Author

Marc Muchnick Ph.D.

Marc Muchnick, Ph.D., is a psychologist on a mission to help people live life with no more regrets. 

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