1. Stressing out
When we fail to see the big picture of the miracle of life itself, we get caught up in the intricacies that simply don’t matter much – if at all – in the long run. The first book I wrote was about how to defeat stress, because it is one of the greatest enemies of the human race. Focus on the good things, not the setbacks, and you certainly won’t regret it. Listen to Bob Marley, mon’.
2. Working too much
Perhaps the most common regret people have in later years is working too much – the rest of us should take note. So much of life seems to revolve around making money and getting ahead, but lifestyle is a choice. There are “poor” people living much better lives than wealthy workaholics. People work hard to be able to buy more stuff, but we’re better off with fewer things. Possessions are not the key to a fulfilling life!
3. Not investing (enough)
One surefire way to be stressed out of your mind is to manage your finances poorly. You should be budgeting. Invest 10-15% of your income in whatever you feel comfortable investing in. Take on more investment risk while younger and gradually decrease your portfolio risk as you near retirement.
4. Living a lie
Countless people are not living the lives they truly want. We are easily influenced by the world – sometimes to our own demise. Not living true to yourself was the number one regret of people on their deathbed in Bronnie Ware’s famous blog post – Regrets of the Dying.
5. Not taking that risk
The “what ifs” are agonizing and the worst kind of failure. Truly, it’s worth failing just to see what happens (and hey, maybe you’ll succeed!). You live and you learn. But if you don’t really “live,” you won’t learn.
6. College or not?
Some people regret going to college. Others regret not going to college. I think the easiest way to determine which one you’d be is to (1) examine how important learning is to you, and (2) see how you feel about the school’s system of learning vs other forms of learning. For some, reading books is all the “school” they need. For others, being taught by another person is their favorite method of learning – or perhaps they want a degree for better job prospects. Whatever your preference, don’t underthink the critical life decision of how much formal education to pursue.
7. Buying too much stuff
Everyone can accumulate things, but not everyone can get rid of things. Excess possessions are a mental anvil and a physical impediment. I’m happy to know I can move anywhere in the world in 30 minutes.
Are you waiting for the right moment? That could be a huge mistake. Seize the day, my friend. Do what matters right now, or you may not ever do it. The timing is never going to be perfect.
9. Wingin’ it.
The opposite of this blog’s namesake – wingin’ it sounds sorta neat-o, but it is the worst way to live. Those who wing it see life as an on-rails type of experience and they go with the flow. The truth is, the rails are only 2 feet tall. Sometimes, wingin’ it is erroneously seen as “living in the moment.” Let me just say that the moments we create matter most. Step over the railing and decide what moments YOU want to live in.
10. Staying in your horrible job
How many people do you know who love their job? About seven, right? And most don’t do anything about it. Constantly apply for better-suited jobs. Start a business. Use your problem-solving skills! If you love your job, you’ll probably love your life.
11. Not spending enough time with important people
Friends, family, children, spouse, etc. You know something that humans never regret? Spending “too much” time with people they love. Make this a priority and enjoy the richness of genuine, close relationships.
12. Trying to be normal
Nobody is normal. We just feel pressure to act like it – to revert to the mean. It’s why we start out as fun children and grow up to become boring adults. Aside from natural maturation, societal conditioning is heavily involved. The people labeled “crazy” or “weird” are having the most fun. Don’t you want to have more fun? I do… and I’m weird.
If all of us intimately understood everything about the food we eat and how it affects us, quality food would see a massive increase in demand. And it is. As understanding grows and America’s health deteriorates, so grows the demand for organic food. Look at the emergence of Whole Foods as an example of people beginning to wake up!
14. Living With Regret
Maybe you’ve made most or all of these mistakes already. Even so, let them become lessons for future consideration, not life anchors. Living with regret is the worst of all, something you’d regret later in life.
Let your current regrets fade into weightless life lessons, and pursue the present moment with vigor. You won’t regret it.