Rejection Is Cheaper Than Regret

Grab a piece of paper and something to write with. Dont’ be fussy, just grab what’s at hand. Use your hand if that’s what at hand. Don’t worry, this is an easy, quick exercise. Now list out at least five things you are holding back from doing because you fear rejection. Here, let me help get you started:

  • Asking a friend to make an introduction to a potential employer
  • Asking someone out on a date that I’ve had my eye on for a while
  • Calling a credit card company and asking them to lower my interest rate
  • Calling my parents just to tell them I love them and not ask something of them
  • Emailing someone I look up to for advice on a project

Have your list? It can be more than five, that’s perfectly fine. These are the things you’re hesitant to do because of fear of rejection, right?

Now circle the items you would truly regret not doing if suddenly the opportunity to do it ceased to exist.

I have had this idea in the back of my mind for a while, as a means to prioritize what’s important in life. The first time it came up was when I had the idea to interview my grandfather about what it was like growing up in Seattle in the 1910s and 20s. I failed to do that and it’s one of the few things I regret. Today I’m adding another item to that list.

I was very saddened by the news today that local climber Joe Puryear died while climbing in Tibet. I never actually knew Joe, personally, but had heard his name dozens of times, especially as I prepared to climb Kyajo Ri in Nepal earlier this year. I poured over his website, the de facto knowledge base for beta and pictures, in the months before the climb, studying the photos and route. Reading his words over and over. He was a local climber, living just two hours away when he was in town.

I’m now planning another trip to Nepal that just came up a month ago. Part of the idea is to ice climb in a couple of valleys where I know he had traveled and climbed. I’ve been holding off on contacting him to ask for beta (route information)because, well, because of stupid reasons. Because he’s a Big Name in my mind. Not untouchable, but maybe he doesn’t want to be bugged by everyone going to the Himalayas? Maybe he’s too busy? Maybe maybe maybe.

My fear of rejection turned to regret today when the world lost a great climber and adventurer. I wish I had sent that email or made that call. I wish I had gotten to know such an adventurous spirit better. I wish I wish I wish. I wish Joe was still around and I know many others who do too, especially his wife and family.

Every loss is a chance to stop and reflect on what’s important in our own lives.

What on your list of Rejections do you not want to turn to Regret? Take just one step towards making it happen. Just one step. If you can’t find the strength to get over your fear and take the step, ask a friend for help on making progress. Or give me a call and I’ll come over and kick you in the ass until you find your own motivation.

You CAN lessen the amount of regrets in your life if you take steps to get over your fear and make things happen. Regrets don’t happen to you. Regrets happen because you didn’t do something.  Joe, I’m sorry I didn’t take the chance to get to know you better.  Thank you for all you did for me and my trip and motivation to explore more of Nepal, without ever knowing I existed.

So what’s it going to be? Live with the fear or live with the regret?

14 Replies to “Rejection Is Cheaper Than Regret”

  1. Krista

    Thank you for this post. I’m so sorry to hear about Joe, aching for his family.

    I needed this today. I’ve been rather overwhelmed by fears lately and it’s time to face them squarely and do what is truly important.

    Thanks. 🙂

  2. Ali

    Great post. I keep reading motivational stuff like this to remind myself to keep pushing. I’m definitely that person who holds back because of fear & I’ve finally hit a point in my life where I’m more afraid of the regret, so I’m going for it no matter how hard it is. Good luck & I hope you enjoy your climb!

  3. Leigh Shulman

    So very true.

    I struggle with this often. Immediately, I’ll say I’d far rather live with rejection, because you can always move on from rejection. You can’t go back and fix what you regret.

    But it’s not always as easy to actualize. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. reno

    rejection is cheaper than regrets. no rejections in my life, but do have some regrets not doing the things I should have done. anyway, all the best wishes and greetings from Sedona, Arizona.

  5. Jason

    I designed a game called Rejection Therapy back in 2009 to encourage myself to get out of my comfort zone more. It was amazingly effective and enlightening (for as long as I did it).

    If anyone wants to try it, it’s here:

    Here’s to no more regret!

  6. Pingback: Climbing reminds us what matters, even during it’s hardest lessons « Ice Bella: My adventures in all things ice, rock and snow

  7. Abby

    It warms my heart when someone has the courage to write about something so many of us are scared of! I have the savviest ways of getting around all of these fears — which isn’t doing me any good. Thanks so much for this post!

  8. Kelly Carmichael

    PWC, I am sorry to hear of your loss as I am sure he has touched so many lives through the years showing every person that was willing to listen and see his mountains.

    I too have had to accept the realization the this “Human Life” is fragile and so volatile that it could end in an instant and without notice. Last June we lost a dear family friend of 40 years, he had been there every step of the way for me as a child to adulthood, up until his final expiration date last year. I miss him very much but I know he is in a better place without pain..

    I have not made my so called “Bucket List” because I list out almost every day and try to live each as it was my last and to live it without regret. Yes, those are easier said than done but, When you lose so many in a short period of time the pain becomes numbing and you go on autopilot..

    I had to take about 4 months off from the camera last year, I do indeed regret putting it down for so long. I am now shooting more and have booked weddings, senior photo sessions and events for the rest of the year.

    Thanks for all you do for the Photo World! Keep On being you and please continue to share with others what you see through the lens!

    Kelly C aka @pentaxfan


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