Future Regrets

Have you ever thought: I wished I’d done [something] different?

We all have. Regrets are part of what defines us as humans.

Looking back over mistakes or missed opportunities can lead us forward into making better decisions about the future if we let it.

In our work, we’ve used the idea of Future Regrets as a strategy tool to help organizations envision possible future outcomes.

Here is how it works:

  1. Take an action that you’re currently seeking clarity on or debating as an organization (or individual). This can be an issue that you’re uncertain about and want to pursue.
  2. Pick a time point in the future when the results of your action (or inaction) will be likely known. To make things simple, we often use 6-months, 1 year, or 5 years as examples. The specific date isn’t that important – just enough to gain a frame on your activity.
  3. Inquire about those outcomes and whether you would have regretted not taking that initial action.

This approach allows us to see beyond short-term pain, struggle, and awkwardness to see long-term success (or possible failures). Rather than wait for regret to set in on a missed opportunity or failed venture we can learn about tomorrow, today. Try it with a variety of scenarios and give yourself time to consider different paths.

Power of Thought Experiments and Regret

Author Dan Pink has written about the role of regrets in shaping our lives and how we can benefit from them in dictating what we do. While this specific approach isn’t mentioned in his book, there are many others that are including the failure resume.

By bringing our future into our present we can regret less and succeed more.

If you’d like some help in using this approach in your work please contact us and let’s grab a coffee.

Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

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