April 1, 2023


regrets, hindsight, insight
                                                                                                                                          Photo: Gabrielle Henderson 


I don't always make good decisions.  And as a result, I end up having regret.  

To illustrate, last month I entered one of my manuscripts in a pitch party.  Minutes after submitting it, I knew I screwed up.  The text could have been stronger and it did not reflect my best work.  

I sulked over the manuscript for days because this submission opportunity only happens once a year.  Talk about feeling down.  And stupid.  A chance to have a select group of picture book agents request my work—gone.

When I looked back at this misfortunate circumstance, it became apparent to me that a lingering migraine had altered my reasoning.  Being foggy-brained is an effect of having a migraine.  But since I was pain-free, I hadn't realized that making good decisions was impaired.  If I had been thinking clearly, there would have been no way I would've submitted this version.  My migraine brain deceived me into thinking the manuscript was in good shape.  And I made a bad choice. 

Now, it's water under the bridge (or the toothpaste is outta of the tube, as my husband would say) and now I know (most likely) that a silent migraine served me a heaping helping of regret.    

Feeling miserable, I turned to the internet to find articles on remorse and regret.  I found a helpful post written by Gila Gam titled Reframing Regret: from Hindsight to Insight 

Since I can't do this piece justice by rephrasing, I quote Gila: 

"Beating yourself up about the things that went wrong, doesn’t help things go right. Don’t regret anything that has taught you valuable and worthwhile lessons. Replace regret with reflect. To reflect is to try and understand what your regrets are trying to tell you. It means looking for insights in order to draw lessons from the experience. The goal of reflection is to move away from regret to make better decisions and take action toward better future outcomes. 

"Remember: life is meant for exploring and experimentation. You are likely to fail many times, but    
“nothing ventured, nothing gained.” When you accept that risks must be taken and setbacks must be   
experienced in order to achieve anything meaningful, then you recognize the futility of regret because there’s a valuable lesson in everything you do. Your life’s lessons allow you to grow. The biggest risk is not to take any risks, and the greatest regret is an unfulfilled life, or a life not lived fully. 

"As you reflect upon your wins and losses, accept the whole package and seek the lessons to apply in the future. Take intentional action to keep doing the things that really matter to you. Be open to change and new opportunities along the self-actualization journey. And most importantly, once you reach success, don’t linger in the comfort zone for too long. Celebrate your accomplishments but beware of resting on your laurels. Move on to something new and continue to be relevant and have impact.

"Life is made up of a series of changes, choices, and consequences. The choices you make today will make sense in retrospect with time and reflection. The road is windy and slippery. Embrace the wobble. Keep walking and trust you will figure out your own way. So, turn the insights into foresight."

Turn insights into foresight.  That's perfect, isn't it? 

For me, that would mean paying closer attention to the effects of a migraine:  recognizing mental clarity can be lacking after an attack and then refraining from making important decisions until the headache symptoms have subsided.  But even if I'm aware, there are other ways to f*ck-up a submission: typos in a manuscript, misunderstanding the submission guidelines, or misspelling an agent's name.  So, to lessen regret, I try to turn the negative feelings into positive feelings by visualizing mistakes as stepping stones that will lead me closer to my goals. 

This wonderful submission opportunity seemed to be the chance of a lifetime and it hurts that I messed up.  But there's always next year.  Until then, I will keep going.  I will remember this situation for a long time, but without regret.  It happened for many reasons:  To learn and to improve.  To understand my limitations.  To revel in my tenacity.  I will keep moving forward along those stepping stones.  And if things backfire or don't go as smoothly as hoped, I will reflect.  I forge on to make things better next time.

À la prochaine!