I had a great conversation with a friend over brunch this past weekend. We are both in professional transitions and trying to figure out what we want to do, where we want to be, and what is most important.
I was expressing my frustration with spending so much time focusing on what other people wanted from me, and that a lot of my professional career didn’t feel like it belonged to me. (I was whining.) We started talking about regret and how it’s hard to step away from it when you are not in the place you want to be. Then she shared the most wonderful idea with me.
Her idea was simple. When you get caught in the spiral of regret and start second guessing your choices and self-worth, slow down, pull out a piece of paper and a pen, and write this down:
Make a list of all the people you have met in the “time frame of regret.” Write down the names of people who have inspired you, made you laugh, become friends and have filled your life up, because you did what you did. Write down the name of the lady you met in your crappy basement job, who was constantly smiling and gave you that life-affirming hug that one time. Include the taco guy that gave you the extra green sauce, because he knows what’s up. Write down the name of that sweet boy that made you feel loved and fed you calamari.
I often worry that I wasted time by going to school for public health in New York because it’s not what I ended up doing. But I made life long friends in my time there, reconnected with some amazing people in my family, and met some of the most interesting and inspiring people I know. Writing down a list of names is a really easy way to change your headspace from “wah”to “yay” when you look at all the people that have become a part of your life.
Thanks, special awesome friend, for this little advice gem that I will keep with me. You are on my list.