Life without regret
Forget mistakes, our biggest regrets come from not achieving our ideal self. (4 mins)
The actual self is who you believe yourself to be in terms of the characteristics and abilities you actually possess – ‘I am good at listening’. The ought self is who you think you ought to be and the abilities you ought to possess based on your obligations and responsibilities – ‘I should be a better parent, friend, lover…all of the above!’. When there is a discrepancy between the actual self and the ought self we typically take action to fix it, or we don’t and it becomes a trigger for anxiety. Making mistakes while learning to master new obligations and responsibilities feel horrible in the moment, but we usually get over them with a ‘live and learn’ mentality. Such as when you become a parent for the first time and you have no choice but to accept failures (on a daily basis!) as a natural part of the learning process.
However, the ideal self is who you’d ideally be and the abilities you’d ideally possess, if you could. Perhaps your ideal self involves being your own boss, but you’ve never followed through on your goals and ambitions because you’ve stayed in a job or career that was the safer option. According to the research, not reaching, achieving or living up to your ideal self is what will truly haunt you at the end of your days.
One of the first things I work on with my clients is what their ideal self is, because this shapes all of the important stuff like their goals, hopes, dreams and the required action inbetween. I ask them to imagine they have reached the end of their life’s journey, and describe who they are. Not what they have done with their life, but what person they have become. ‘What person will you become?’
If you need help defining, implementing and achieving the life you want, including achieving your ideal self, checkout the link below to learn more about the performance coaching I provide and how to book a session with me.
Davidai, S., & Gilovich, T. (2018). The ideal road not taken: The self-discrepancies involved in people’s most enduring regrets. Journal on Emotion.
Allan, P. (2018). How To Avoid A Life Of Regret. Life Hacker.