Douglas was having a hard time that day. Apparently he had this big, life-altering choice to make, and he couldn’t decide which path to take, so he was commiserating with Hitchens.
“Dear Boy,” said Hitchens, taking a big puff of his cigarette, “in life, we must all choose our regrets.”
In life, we all have to make hard choices. And as we get older, we realize that these choices are hard, not because they were that difficult choices to make at the time, but because of the considerable costs that become apparent, the longer we live.
Maybe we worked too hard in our twenties. Maybe we didn’t work hard enough. Maybe we should’ve married that person, maybe not. Maybe we should never have tried being a professional musician. Or maybe we should’ve just gone for it.
Either way, we’re all going to look back with some regret, and the longer we live, the more regrets will have time to pile up.
This is especially true in business. The longer your company is around, the longer the “what if” list becomes. We have to choose to hire person A or person B. We have to choose which prototype to take to market and which to abandon. We can’t possibly do it all, and no magic 8 ball will help us.
So we might as well choose our regrets in advance. We might as well own them, as opposed to letting them own us instead.
Hitchens knew what he was talking about.