How to Do a Regret Evaluation to Make Better Decisions

Whenever you need to make an important decision, you can do a regret evaluation to determine what’s best for you.

Every day, you make many decisions. Some of them will have little to no consequence in the long run.

However, certain decisions can have a significant impact on your life. This is where doing a regret evaluation can help you make better decisions.

1-Minute Summary Video

What Is a Regret Evaluation?

A regret evaluation is an exercise that can provide greater clarity as you analyse a situation to determine your best course of action.

It’s similar to doing a cost-benefit or risk analysis, except this process helps you understand how much you might regret taking or not taking an action.

It’s a useful process to go through when faced with a tough decision, as you can identify the potential consequences for the options you have before choosing the one with the best payoff.

When you do a regret evaluation, you assess your options and weigh them against each other.

do a regret evaluation

The Benefits of Doing a Regret Evaluation

When you do a regret evaluation, the benefits include:

  • You will avoid negative emotions, such as guilt or disappointment, later on in life.
  • You will improve your decision-making ability.
  • You will avoid overthinking and creating mental anguish.
  • You will learn more about yourself and discover who you really are.
  • You will get clearer on what’s important to you.
  • You will increase your sense of control over your life.
  • You will reduce stress as you’ll worry less.
  • You will improve your self-confidence.
  • You will know how to take advantage of opportunities.
  • You will achieve success that matters to you.

The habit of asking yourself whether you will regret a choice you’re about to make will cause you to be more accountable for your actions.

How to Do a Regret Evaluation

Here are five things you need to consider when you do a regret evaluation, so you can feel comfortable you’re making the best decision.

  1. Capture all the options available to you. The first step is to have a clear idea of the options available. Instead of figuring it out in your mind, list all the options you’d like to consider.
  2. Identify your intention and goal. Ask yourself, “What do I want? Or “What’s my best potential outcome?” If you know what you want, a few things will fall away, which will decrease the options you need to evaluate.
  3. Assess the payoff for each option. Every option will have pros and cons. Going through the payoff process for each option will give you a clearer sense of what will move you closer to your goal.
  4. Ask yourself future-paced questions. Future pacing is a technique you can use to imagine yourself in the future. This is where you can imagine what could happen if you make or don’t make a decision. Ask yourself, “If I choose this option, will I regret it later? If I don’t choose this option, how likely is it I will regret it years later?”
  5. Make the best choice based on what you know. Once you’ve assessed all your options, choose what’s best for you and for those affected by your choice. You can only decide based on the knowledge and awareness you have now, and by taking a long-term view.

Things to Consider When Doing a Regret Evaluation

Most decisions you make in life can be corrected later when you have more knowledge and awareness.

However, there are things you need to consider early on when doing a regret evaluation.

These include:

  • Look at your options from multiple perspectives.
  • Do not avoid potential negative consequences or pretend they could not happen.
  • Give yourself enough time when first doing it.
  • Keep things simple as much as you can when assessing the payoffs for your options.
  • Acknowledge the impact of your decision on others in your life.

Final Thoughts

The quality of your life depends on the decisions you make. To avoid regretting the decisions you make or don’t later in life, the habit of doing a regret evaluation will help.

When you do it consistently, you’ll become better at identifying risks faster and know how to choose the option with the best payoff for you.

Action Step: If you need to make an important decision, practice doing a regret evaluation. Use the five steps mentioned to make the best decision.

Question: What else should you consider if you want to do a regret evaluation?

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Neel Raman

Neel Raman


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