Will I Regret Not Doing This?

Sometimes, when I am debating whether or not I should do something, I'll stop and ask myself, "Will I regret not doing this?"

For me, this question is more useful than asking if I will regret it, since I am much more likely to not do something out of fear or worry than I am to rush headlong into something without much thought.

During my sophomore year of college I decided I wanted to look into doing editing as a minor. I picked up the paperwork from the office and took it to the library to look everything over. I flipped through the pages and felt a brief excitement about taking on this new step. But then I started worrying-- would this actually help me get a job? What if it slowed down my graduation, or made me take focus away from other classes and brought my GPA down? I kept thinking along these lines and put off making a decision at that point.

In the end, I left the packet in my backpack and toted it around throughout the rest of the semester, throwing it away once classes were over. I had let myself be carried away by my natural inclination against doing things that were hard or unknown, and I never did end up in editing.

I wish now that I used the question "Will I regret not doing this?" to help me make that decision, because yes, I did regret not choosing editing. When my senior year of college came and I realized I was going to have to get a job using my political science degree, I found that I was very interested in editing jobs. And, no surprise, they all required a background in editing. Which I would have had if I had just gone ahead and filled out that paperwork two years before.

Now, I think about that question all the time. Sometimes it's with bigger things, but it serves me well for trivial things as well. When winter hit Chicago I was debating whether or not to buy a bundle bag for our stroller (if you don't know what this is, you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate). I realized I could get away with not having one, but I thought "Will I regret not doing it?" and it was clear to me: just get the bundle bag. It will make your life so much easier.

This question came in handy recently when I was talking with Brock about speaking Portuguese to James. Brock talks to James almost exclusively in Portuguese and has since James was a tiny baby. James now understands a plethora of Portuguese phrases and learned many of them before he learning their English counterparts (he actually still doesn't understand "clap your hands!" or "can I have a hug?" in English but knows them in Portuguese).

But recently Brock said to me, "Should I keep talking to him in Portuguese? Will he ever become fluent? Maybe this isn't worth it." And I replied, "You're never going to regret doing it, but you definitely could regret stopping."


  1. Oh I ask myself that same thing exactly. I find that it really clarifies my spending dilemmas. Sometimes I think, "Yes it will be so worth it"! And other time so think, "If I don't buy this cute top there will always be more cute tops."


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