Choose “Next Time” Over “If Only”

Earlier this week, I blogged about the The Pain of Discipline vs. the Pain of Regret. The pain of discipline is future-oriented, while the pain of regret is past-oriented.

Another way to think about it is with the two terms “next time” and if only” (this idea isn’t original with me; I just don’t remember where I heard it or read it). “If only” is the pain of regret. “If only I would have (fill in the blank).” A better course of action is to say, “Next time, I will (fill in the blank).” “Next time” lays out a path of discipline for the future.

In my experience over the last five months, I’ve certainly been tempted to think, “If only.” If only I would have rested more. If only I would have not ignored the earlier warning signs.

I remember intentionally thinking, at times, “I can’t dwell on ‘if only’; I have to focus on ‘next time.'” That’s why I came up with 3 Steps I’m Taking to Manage Stress Better in the beginning. I just needed a plan, some course of action that helped me see a light at the end of the tunnel. It wasn’t a perfect or a complete plan, but it was a start in the right direction!

You may certainly need to reflect on the past to see where you’ve missed the mark or where you’ve gone off-course. But don’t dwell on it to the point where it paralyzes you. Come up with a plan for the future, for next time.

What will you do next time? Start on it immediately. It’s the path of discipline. And remember, the pain of discipline is a lot better than the pain of regret!

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