One of the Most Common Regrets: Time Spent Worrying

In an interview with Gretchen Rubin, Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., professor of Human Development at Cornell University, stated, “I was born the type that worries, but I have realized that many of the things I worried about never came to pass, and the problems that showed up weren’t the ones I had worried about. In my studies of the wisdom of older people, this is one thing they really taught me. Indeed, one of the most common regrets people have at the end of life is time wasted worrying.”

Whenever I was interviewing for an article for my college publication, I tend to ask the question, “What will you advice to your younger self?” and somehow, one way or another, their answers are related to worrying.

“You can do anything that you want to do. So stop worrying.”
“I’m was a mess. I spent a lot of time worrying in the past and if I can say something to my younger self, it would be, believe in yourself. Just do it.”

Even author and organizational psychologist Adam Grant wrote in an article, “When people reflect on their biggest regrets, they wish they could redo the inactions, not the actions. “In the long run, people of every age and in every walk of life seem to regret not having done things much more than they regret things they did,” psychologists Tom Gilovich and Vicky Medvec summarize, “which is why the most popular regrets include not going to college, not grasping profitable business opportunities, and not spending enough time with family and friends.”

Ultimately, what we regret is not failure, but the failure to act. 

Failure to act is related to worrying too because before we act on something, we think about it for some time and even spend time ruminating. Sometimes, worrying gets the best of us and all of a sudden, time has passed and we haven’t act on it yet because we worry a lot.

In my case, last year, before doing an academic work, I tend to worry about it instead of just starting. Then suddenly, 30 minutes had passed and I haven’t started yet, but if I had just started instead of worrying what bad things might happen, I would probably be halfway done by now.

That is why whenever I found myself worrying before doing something, I remind myself of this quote from author James Clear, “Stop worrying about how long it will take and get started. Time will pass either way.

Though, right now, whenever I will be doing something that I know that will take a long time for me to complete, I’ll take a deep breath and say, “This too shall pass.”

This reminder helps me to not dwell so much on certain things, to not worry so much on what will happen, and that its not the end of the world. I can overcome whatever obstacles I face because it will pass. Just like whenever I encountered obstacles last year that I thought were too hard for me, I thought I would not get through it but no, I did it. I overcame all of that and made it here in 2021.

Right now, I’m looking forward to just letting the situation to be what it is and spend less time worrying on controlling the outcome because whatever it is, it will pass. I hope and pray that I will have the courage to run to the roar.