Often during a lessons learned session for your projects, you will hear stakeholders talk about the regrets that they have for the project. “If only we had spent more money.” “If only we had paid more attention to the vendor’s schedule when it went off-track.” “We regret that we didn’t think that the market would change suddenly.”

Regret is feeling sad about a missed opportunity. When we express our regrets at a project close meeting, or at any time, we are mourning a missed opportunity.

While you can try to suppress your regrets, usually, this approach doesn’t work well. Your regrets seem to pop up at unexpected times. Instead of pushing your regrets underground, you can let them be a trigger for something good. Opportunities exist all around you. A regret that surfaces suddenly should remind you to take advantage of the possibilities at your fingertips. If you do this, your current opportunities won’t turn into future regrets.

Start to think of regrets as a “when-then” statement. When you feel regret for something, then look around and see an opportunity that you can seize today.