I have long believed that thinking about regret is a powerful motivator for action. When you're feeling indecisive, trying to figure out if a particular step is a good one, consider how you'll feel if you don't take the step. Often this leads you to what seems like the right direction.
But while mental models can be helpful, most of them also have limits. Lately I've realized there's a flaw in the logic of focusing your attention on the avoidance of regrets. Simply put, regret is an unreliable emotion.
Think about that for a moment—what does it mean?
It means, in short, that regret is both difficult to anticipate and even harder to characterize in retrospect. If you feel certain about your choices in either direction—either looking back or looking forward—you may be basing your interpretations on selectively chosen information.Read More