We’ve all done dumb things we’ve come to regret – both in our professional roles and personal lives. Some we can say were a result of being young and immature. Some might be due to our competitive nature. A few years ago, on Huffington Post, Rev. James Martin, shared the tweets he sent out on his 50th birthday, citing things he wished he had known at 25 — he called the article Spiritual Learnings on my 50th Birthday. Then the next year as a follow up he posted 12 Stupid Things I Never Want To Do Again, in honor of his reflections after turning 50. They resonated with me, because I know I’ve done some of them and don’t want to keep doing them.
I’ve been spending some time on that theme of lessons learned as we grow older and gain experience in our professional lives. Maybe you can set aside some time in the next week or so to reflect on in the impact in your life of past bad behavior, or mistakes, and identify ways to reset your perspective and attitude, as well as apply skill sets acquired along the way. It’s amazing the impact these small, people-mindful, changes can make in our professional interactions and relationships (and hint, hint….it might just help at home, too).
- Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda – “When you hang onto your history you do so at the expense of your destiny.” This is a quote that really resonates as I ponder my next big career move. It is almost impossible to move ahead unless you let go of regret or second guessing about past actions, decisions, or events in your life that brought you to your current state of being. If only I had taken a different job, moved to a different city, married a different person, life would be so much better. It’s easy to waste a lot of time and energy stuck thinking about where you’ve been. Let it go! Give yourself the gift of freedom to be available in the present to be your best self as you move forward.
- Compare Yourself With Others – “The grass is always greener.” It’s so easy to look around at colleagues, friends, the other parents at the PTA meeting, and tell yourself the story of their lives; how much smarter, successful, more attractive, well-liked, richer, or happier they are than you might be. There is no way to compare your life to someone else’s in any accurate way. You know everything about your own situation, the good and the bad, and usually only have the “public image” that someone else is sharing about their “perfect” life to use as a measure. As a result – our “real” life will always lose out in a comparison. Keep in mind, there is probably someone comparing themselves to you right now!
- Interrupt People – We all think that what we have to say is important. Often we are so focused on what we are going to say next, we don’t listen to what others are saying. We are busy preparing our response, eager to interrupt so that everyone can hear our interesting thoughts. But being a good listener, an active listener, is one of the best skills we can possess. If we give others our full attention, and really hear what they have to say, they will feel appreciated and heard, and much more likely to positively respond to what we have to say when our turn comes.
- Neglect To Do The Right Thing – Sometimes doing the right thing is hard. Making that call to a friend who just got fired. Standing up for someone when they are being unfairly blamed or targeted. Admitting and taking responsibility for making a mistake. It takes courage to step up and put yourself out there, but once you do you feel so much better and things more than likely will improve for you, or someone else involved. When you are trying to decide about taking action; take a moment and think about how you will feel about yourself if you don’t.
- Be Too Hard On Yourself – In this fast paced world we all want everything to happen right now. If you are reading this list and thinking about things you regret doing in the past — thoughtless comments, gossiping, screwing up at work, not having a friend’s back — chances are you already beating yourself up about it. Be patient with yourself. Recognize that change take times. Self-awareness if the first key step to change. Give yourself credit for recognizing the need for change and for every step you take in the right direction.
Mary Vail-Grube is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.