Regrets, I’ve had a few

You know that feeling where you’re angry at yourself? I had that today. About a 10-minute period where I was the worst, dumbest guy I could think of.

I made a mistake. And when you make a mistake that gets you angry, it’s not an exciting new mistake. It’s the mistake you keep making, the one trap you constantly fall into. The trap that bedevils your life, and every time you go there, you resolve fully to never be so careless with your own well-being again. Then you go and stuff up, and you know that if anyone else treated you so badly, they’d be excommunicated.

So, what I did is a logistical screw-up. It might not sound like much, but it’s like the final straw that falls about fifteen straws after the final straw. I had a medical appointment this week, but I thought it was on Wednesday at 11.15. Imagine my surprise when my phone reminder goes off at 10.30 Monday morning.

On the net I check the doctor’s address (on the other side of town) and find out they have a clinic literally walking distance from my house. Annoying. But they have a surprisingly high fee for changing the appointment. So I cancel my other plans and head across town to the doctor’s. I drive fast, calling them on the way to say I’ll be late.

I park hurriedly, and puffing, I bust in through the clinic’s doors, announcing my name to the receptionist. ‘Jason?’ she says, and she smiles, ‘your appointment is at 1.15pm.’

‘No. I have it as 11.15’ I check my phone. And there it is. ‘Doctor 115’. I hang my head and chuckle. It is a rueful chuckle. It reminds me of every appointment I ever missed, every schedule I ever forgot and especially of the time I once showed up for a meeting a week early.

Being angry at yourself is a funny feeling. One part of you is angry at another part. But you can’t yell at yourself. You can’t apologise to yourself. You can’t make promises to yourself. Not ones you can fully believe, anyway. All it does tell you is that forgiveness takes time.

That’s it from me – over to you. Been mad at yourself recently? Ever punched yourself? Or do you know a way to turn a type-B personality into an high-performing, diary-toting list maker? Share!

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Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

4 thoughts on “Regrets, I’ve had a few”

  1. I often get the time wrong for things (we missed the train to Liz and James’ wedding due to my bad time memory).

    I reckon the key is not to become a better time manager or a more organised person, but rather to be more forgiving to yourself. You need to get the two parts of yourself saying “it’s cool, I’ll just go grab a coffee then” or “never mind, I’m sure I’ll catch up with everyone later” or “don’t worry about losing everyone’s passports and birth certificates, they can all be replaced for only $400”


  2. I agree, if you are like this – and most people are – then hating yourself isn’t very productive.
    You will not change – you have tried and failed right? So you must adapt. Perhaps by carrying a small paperback with you for those times when you are forced to kill a few hours.
    Also surrounding yourself with people who understand how this sort of things can happen is good too. Otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time apologising when you are already an hour late. And besides, the people who are super organised are likely to be deficient in other ways I reckon!


  3. thanks for the sensible advice – but no mention of swearing? i find swearing a panacea in situations like this…


  4. this is why those clever euros invented 24 hour time. After I reaised that we had to catch a ferry at 1700 not the 7pm that I had in my mind, I adopted 24 hour time. Beside removing confusion, it sounds more techie – like you mean business and will not be late. I’ll meet you at 2130 is much better than 9.30pm.


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