How to live a “no regrets” life.

Lu Setnicka

I recently had the opportunity to support a close friend as she struggled with a challenging business decision. She wasn’t a client; she came to me for advice in making the right choice for the next step with her business. I couldn’t help myself; the coach in me came right out.

We crunched the numbers, we strategized, we played with the best and worst case scenarios, we imagined the “what ifs?” We talked about what was scary, what was exhilarating, what was challenging, what was a “no brainer.” Most importantly, we spent many hours ensuring this change in business direction effectively contributed to her long-term personal and professional goals.

It wasn’t easy; there were many times she looked at me and said, “I don’t know if I can do this.” There were too many moving parts, too many details that seemed overwhelming as we talked them through, too many times she said, “Aw, I’ll figure that out later.”

I sat with her as she called back her business stakeholders, picking their brains to gather more data, collect more ideas, and weave new strategies into her thinking. Excel spreadsheets covered our laptops; flip chart sheets littered the floor.

Time was ticking; she had to make a choice, commit to a new direction or stay “as is.” I suggested we push away from the decision table and take a breath.

We began to explore the optimal question: what does it look like to have “no regrets?”

Heading in a new direction often takes courage and some would view it as risk-taking, but at the end of the day, isn’t it better to live a life with no regrets rather than wallowing in the “would of,” “should of,” “could of’s” of our decisions?

That was the catalyst; just by asking the question, “Do you want to live your life with any regrets?” she was able to spring into action, squaring her shoulders and declaring a definitive “Yes!” to the new opportunity.

Navigating these activities with my friend was triggering something in the back of my mind; I, too, many years ago, had been faced with a similar dilemma. I was newly married, living in Yosemite National Park, working my way up the government jobs career ladder. So was my husband. He finally got the call…a promotion to a national park in South Florida. South Florida? Who the heck wants to live in South Florida? We agonized over the pros and cons: I would be hunting for a job, we would be swatting mosquitos and dealing with extreme humidity, we would be able to buy our first house, we already had a few friends in the area, we’d be closer to our east coast-based families, we’d learn to scuba dive, etc. But, Homestead, Florida after Yosemite National Park? It was a lot to swallow. After a few nights of “spirited” discussions, he took the job and we made the move. Looking back on the decision now, I realize we applied the “No regrets” thinking.   Stay in Yosemite and watch the promotion go to someone else or take a shot at something new and different. While this was many years ago, it was still the same path of gathering data, evaluating the ups and downs, and making a decision we would not regret (to be honest, I ended up falling in love with Everglades National Park where I was able to continue my Park Service career).

As an Executive and Career coach at FromWithinCoaching, I go through a very similar process with my clients. By asking the right questions, the people I work with eventually look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves how they can live their personal and professional lives with “no regrets.” That being said, it’s not easy finding a new job, changing industries, maneuvering through a challenging conversation, or being honest with oneself about having outgrown a role; it can be a lonely and overwhelming spot. But we only take this trip around the sun once – make sure it’s a regret-free adventure.

Are you feeling stuck in the “regrets” zone? An exploratory session might be just the thing to get you out of a rut. You can read more about me and book your session below.  I’d be honored to help.


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