Rick McDaniel: We all have regrets – But you can change your life by pursuing your dreams with 2020 vision

Do you have any regrets about 2019? I think everyone does. You can’t do everything right. We all make mistakes. With more life experience comes greater insight about choices we’ve made or actions we’ve taken.

In the new year we have another opportunity to live with “no regrets.” It’s a mantra I heard many times in my athletic career. It always motivated me. And made me want to give maximum effort. I’ve carried it with me throughout my adult life.

But it turns out that what we regret most is not what we’ve done but what we didn’t do. Cornell University psychologists surveyed hundreds of participants in six studies asking them to name their biggest regret in life. Seventy-six percent said it was not fulfilling their ideal self.


The researchers identified three elements that make up a person’s sense of self. Your actual self consists of the qualities you believe you possess. Your ought self is the person you feel you should be with your responsibilities and obligations. And your ideal self is made up of the qualities you want to have.

In other words, when it comes to our dreams and aspirations we fail to act on them and then later in life we are filled with regret about it. We are quicker to take steps to rectify failures with our responsibilities and obligations than to fulfill our dreams and goals.

In the short-term we regret our actions more than our inactions but in the long-term it is the inaction that leads to greater regret.


It’s vital to act on our hopes and dreams. Putting them off indefinitely will positively lead to regret later. This new year provides a clean slate and a marvelous opportunity. Don’t leave it for tomorrow. Act today.

But those pesky responsibilities and obligations can get in the way. The things we “ought” to do keep us from doing what we dream about. The key is a “both/and” versus “either/or” way of thinking.

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It is absolutely possible to take care of your responsibilities and also pursue your dreams. People have done it for centuries. It will take creativity and flexibility but it can be done. And if you don’t you will regret it.

Having a vision for your life is the beginning point. It may be a shameless pun but you need 2020 vision. An excellent definition of vision is seeing the invisible. Unlike physical vision, this vision is something you can see for your life but it is not yet visible in your life.

You have to love the vision, protect the vision and resource the vision. You have to love the vision so much you won’t give up on it, you have to protect the vision so it won’t die and you have to resource the vision or can never be realized. And then you can watch your dreams come true.

When you act on your vision you will experience opposition. People will usually try to hinder your dream through criticism and discouragement. But don’t let it stop you. Your dream may tap into the insecurities of others and they react with words of criticism or take actions to discourage you.

Instead of becoming discouraged – choose courage. Act in spite of the opposition. Let the pursuit of your dream shape you. The pain will make you more compassionate, the struggle will make you more patient, the support will make you humbler.

You will have to resist the temptation to take shortcuts. And be committed for the long haul so you don’t abandon your dream. Too many give up and settle into the drab routine of obligations and responsibilities. And then later they regret it.

Your vision can become reality. Maybe you have experienced some tough times. Your spouse has left you, your child is rebelling, you’ve lost your job. It’s not the end of your dream. You can dream again, you can still live your best life.


Write the book you’ve been thinking about for years, open the business you’ve always wanted to start, pursue the career that is your true passion. Whatever the vision is for your life – act on it now.

Make 2020 the year. You won’t regret it.


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