Regret: A Powerful Motivator

I recently discovered that the musical I’d been working on for the past several years was no longer going to be viable.  Not because it wasn’t a good story, or even a good idea.  It’s because someone beat me to it.

I was surfing the web and discovered that not only had someone written a similar play, they had named it almost exactly the same and it was a smash hit!  Talk about a body blow.  I’d spent the last few years working on it sporadically, and now it was never going to see the light of day.  Even if it was determined that my creation was better – that wouldn’t matter.  The early bird got the worm.

Once I found out about this work, I went through a range of emotions….

Disbelief: What were the odds of someone having almost exactly the same idea as mine, and executing it in similar fashion?  As a musical, no less!

Anger: How dare they!  (And then the rest of the language used was somewhat coarse.  Somewhat.)

But the one I ended up with at the end of it all: regret.

I knew I could have had the piece done years ago had I focused on it a bit more.  I knew it was my own fault for being complacent.  The only professional aspect of how I handled this project was in the form of “professional crastination.”  Clichéd as it sounds; I needed a drink.

Wallowing in regret is not a good thing.  But what you should do when you begin to feel regret is a tried and true method of emptying your head.  Write it down.  Capture the wave of emotion as it flows through you.  Make a list of pros and cons.  Do whatever you have to do to get the feeling out of your mind (because it will linger if you don’t) and resolve how to avoid it in the future.  While you can’t escape regret entirely, you can certainly learn from it.

What did I learn?  Well, I learned that I still have a lot to learn about keeping GTD in practice. But I also learned that I desperately want to be a writer – a creative artist.  I’ve turned my feeling of regret into a motivator.  I don’t want to be upstaged or upset by my own inaction again.  Put off and delay and prepare to pay.

That’s why I wrote this article the same day I made the aforementioned discovery.  I’m a quick study.

Mike Vardy is a regular (eventually) contributor to GTD Times. We hope you enjoy his posts as much as we do!