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What could go right
Do you use the regret test for big decisions in your life? As in, “If I don’t do this thing, what are the chances I’ll regret it in 20 years?” It’s a helpful exercise for pushing past the distraction of immediate gratification and anticipating needs deep into the future, but it also foregrounds scarcity rather than abundance.
Just look at the name. In referring to it as the regret test, rather than, say, the map of possibility, we’re playing into fear-based motivation. We’re admitting that we’re afraid of missing out on a good time or a payday or another life-changing experience if we make a wrong move, all of which is possible.
Cheryl Strayed, in her capacity as Dear Sugar, assures readers that any choice “will contain some loss” and clarity about what you stand to lose may not set in until years down the road. Even with the most meticulous calculations, the only way to really know what we’ll lose or gain is to get on with the decision.
But if we make that decision from a position of what could go right rather than what could go wrong, we reveal what we really want our future to look like, and the choice becomes clearer. It becomes less about the correct or safe or optimized decision and more about the authentic decision.
So what’ll it be? Do you want to close a door to insulate yourself from the things that scare you or do you want to open a door that gets you closer to who you want to be?