Fear of Regret

Posted on May 15 2009

We start our lives without fear. At some point in time, we learn to fear. Fear of Regret, in the perspective of decision analysis, occurs when we may set our objectives as reaching of decision of least or minimal regret. Many of us fear regret. “If I don’t do this, I might be sorry. I might miss out on a great opportunity.”

Often this fear drives us to make a decision far too early or without enough analysis. The only way we can minimize the potential mistake of deciding only to minimize regret, is to generate as many options as possible, or at least a suitable number, so that we do not regret choosing between too few alternatives. This is often the result to those to decide to minimize regret.

One might walk through a potential scenario, very quickly, on each potential option. If we do this, we are both minimizing regret while maximizing options, but are also minimizing risk, as we’ve seen or virtually experienced the potential pitfalls.

One area that is riddled with decision by fear of regret is that of keeping our lives organized. How many of us are over-cluttered because when we review what is potentially discardable, we feel we might experience regret if we do not keep that which we question?

Fear is the root of uncertainty, and the only way to conquer decision by mimizing regret is to have our options fully explored and analyzed so that we do not prematurely decide. We may experience fear of change, or perhaps Dealing with Uncertainty, but the opposite effect may occur if we over-analyze – we could experience Analysis Paralysis

There is a fine line between many of these pitfalls, and if you can’t seem to find it, you are best off to practice on low-impact decisions, and seek assistance with the highly volatile ones.

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