Success, Failure, Wisdom and Regret

As I prepared to write my first post for Women of HR, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to address.  Being new to blogging, I’m still trying to find my inspiration and jump-start my creativity.

Wandering a little bit aimlessly and not knowing quite where to begin, I finally stumbled across my first idea.  I know  this blog is intended to focus on women and issues important to women, and in future posts I will dive into some of those topics, but today I’ve decided to take a cue from Charee Klimek and her deeply personal post, No Apologies, and write with a somewhat personal spin.

Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to attend the scholarship award ceremony of a local community group.  As I scanned the audience, I began thinking about all of the eager young adults in attendance on the brink of starting their college experiences and steps away from making decisions that would impact the direction of their lives for years to come.

One of the featured speakers addressed the group about failures, successes, and the wisdom gained through both.  Listening to him speak to this impressionable audience with many choices still ahead of them, I began pondering my own experience since I left college and started my career, about the path I’ve taken and the choices I’ve made.  As I contemplated, I decided that one thing was for certain – I had a very different idea of what success would look like for me back in college than I do now.

Reflecting back on the person I was when I graduated college, would I ever have expected that I’d be where I am now, personally or professionally?

Not in a million years.

I am one of those professionals that “fell into the rabbit hole” and just sort of ended up in HR.  My degree was in Marketing so I had no plans to be where I am now.  Beyond work, in my personal life, there are many things that are also much different than I would have expected.  These differences are not mutually exclusive as the path I’ve taken professionally has in many ways profoundly impacted my personal life too.

Then I asked myself, if I could go back, would I change anything?

Not in a million years.

Over the past 12 years, I’ve had my share of successes and failures.  I’ve made mistakes and I’ve had my victories.  Each choice that I’ve made, for better or for worse, has led me to where I am now.  The successes I’ve had enriched my life and the mistakes I’ve made built my character.  If at any point I had followed a different path, I’d have missed out on countless experiences.  There are people I never would have met, places I never would have visited, events that I would have missed, and moments I would not have had the opportunity to enjoy.  The personal and professional choices have intertwined and woven together to create a life I may not have expected, but one that I feel fortunate to be leading nonetheless.

I believe the biggest piece of wisdom I’ve gained through these past years is to embrace the opportunities presented, and follow some of those paths – even if they lead in a direction you didn’t expect or down a path you never planned.

Had I followed a different path, I wouldn’t have been at the Girls Night Out that inspired this site, and I certainly would not be here, contributing to this project, and collaborating with some incredibly talented, successful, and all around wonderful people.

No regrets here!

Looking forward to the discussions, collaborations, and many more posts in the future!

Get to know Jennifer a little better as we highlight her on LinkedIn this week.

Photo credit iStock Photo

About the Author

Jennifer Payne

Jennifer Payne is a 20+ year human resources leader with a focus on researching, developing, and implementing talent management programs. She is a believer in lifelong learning and self-development who strives to stay current in HR trends, technology, best practices, and the future of work by sharing knowledge with and learning from HR colleagues and thought leaders across the country and throughout the world through writing, speaking, and involvement in various industry conferences and events.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter...


Jennifer Payne

Thank you all for the comments!

Jeff – there is definitely something to be said for having faith in a higher power that’s ultimately leading you to exactly where you are supposed to be. It’s easy to forget that sometimes when frustration or uncertaintly gets the best of you. Best of luck to you in your own journey and thanks for sharing 🙂

David – I do believe I’m living life without regrets, and enjoying the journey as I go!

David M. Kasprzak

Hi, Jennifer!

After reading your post, I have the sense that, if you had made other choices and arrived in different places – your feelings would be much the same. That is, you’re living your life without regrets! What a wonderful place to be.

Our pathways through life carry all of us to different destinations. Some things are good, some things are bad, and it’s entirely possible that we’re all at the mercy of our own fate anyway.

Your post reminds me of a simple truth: No matter what the outcomes, enjoy the journey! Our purose here, afterall, is to learn, gain wisdom, and pass it along.

Thanks for sharing!

Jeff williams

I’m sensing that I too am in one of those moments where the opportunities being presented could lead me down a path I didn’t plan. I had been fighting this pretty hard. But just in the last few weeks I’ve begun embracing this “flow of energy” that seems to be directing my path. I’m more at peace with that and actually enjoying the ride. I still keep my eyes open for the opportunities within my origial path. But I’ve learned over the years there is a higher power whose plans tend to better than my own.

Enjoying t


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