January 1 is just hours away. You may mark this milestone by making resolutions for a better diet, more exercise, or a more productive lifestyle. But before you get too focused on turning over a new leaf, we suggest you take a moment to deal with the old leaves, yesterday’s baggage that holds you back. Here’s a quick exercise that can help set you free for a wonderful year ahead.
We all make mistakes, dozens every day, at home and at work. Some trivial and some that feel catastrophic at the time. Most of these mistakes are quickly forgotten, but some linger. And linger. And linger. Dwelling on mistakes can leave us feeling guilty, remorseful or depressed. Worse, these regrets can get in the way when it’s time to move on.
So let’s take a moment to clear the slate. It’s easier than you think:
- Find a clean sheet of paper and black felt tip marker.
- Make a list of five big mistakes that you struggle to let go.
- Review the list, focusing not on the mistakes but on how each has held you back.
- Crumple the paper into a tight ball.
- Light the ball on fire.
- Smash the ashes with a hammer.
- Run whatever’s left down the garbage disposal.
Forgive. Forget. Move on.
Regret can be a useful learning tool for a short time, but in the big picture, it’s a terrible distraction from life going forward. This exercise literally pulverizes negative memories that hold us back and gives us permission to focus on things that matter right now.
We encourage you to apply this technique not just at year end, but whenever it is needed, and on any subject. If you’ve made investment mistakes – taking advice from the wrong person, trying to predict unknowable future events, panicking in volatile markets and so on – it’s time to let these regrets go.
Go find your felt tip marker, book of matches and hammer, and get to work.
We wish you prosperous and guilt-free New Year!
Steve Mott – Guest Columnist & Osbon Capital Editor