You don’t want to look back at your life with a bunch of regrets. You don’t want to end up like the people described in this quote by Les Brown:
The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.
If you want to minimize regret, focus on doing things you won’t regret doing. Sure, some of them are challenging, but that’s what makes them worthwhile in the first place.
When you pour time and energy into something meaningful, you have less regret. When you waste time and energy on things that aren’t important, you have more regret.
So how can you live your best life? Keep your focus on the former and avoid the latter. Let’s take a look at some activities you’ll almost never regret doing.
Create a better “temple” for your future self
This is cliche, but it’s too important not to mention because it’s literally a matter of life and death. You’ll never regret making good health decisions.
Have you ever had one of those days where you just didn’t feel like exercising, but you did it anyway? At first, you’re a bit sluggish doing your first few exercises, but you usually start to hit a groove. By the end of the workout, you’re glad you did it instead of skipping. You’re proud of yourself because you followed through even though you were tired.
There’s a saying:
The reason you’re too tired to workout is that you don’t workout.
Chicken breast and broccoli isn’t the most enjoyable meal in the world, but do you ever regret eating healthy?
Also, you don’t need to have a super restrictive diet. Find healthy foods you enjoy. Stick to whole and non-processed foods. Have some guilty pleasures and indulgences, but don’t overdo them.
Out of all the habits out there, taking care of your diet and physical fitness is a strategy that knocks over so many different dominoes. Being healthier gives you a clearer mind, alleviates stress, and gives you more energy to pour into important areas of your life like quality time with family and friends or your career.
Spend money on things that don’t make you feel guilty
Money is a difficult subject to tackle because it’s emotional. The way you feel about how you earn, spend, and save your money makes all the difference when it comes to getting a handle on your finances.
Spending tends to be a major issue for most people. Often, we look up at the end of the month and wonder where all of our money went. Some of the money was spent on things you need. Some of it was spent on things you want. Often, some of the money went toward things you see as a total waste.
So how do you spend your money in a way you probably won’t regret?
Spend your money on experiences. Think about it. Have you ever regretted going on a vacation, seeing one of your favorite acts on stage, or even having a night out at the movies with your family? Probably not. But I bet there are many material items you look back on and wish you hadn’t bought.
If you want to feel good about your financial situation and have fun at the same time, make sure you add experiences to your conscious spending plan:
The problem with budgets is they make you look back on your spending to make changes. What really happens is you look back and feel horrible. And you do that the next month and then the next month after that. What you should do instead is look forward, not backward.
This is a strategy called ‘Conscious Spending.’ Notice how it’s conscious spending, not saving. The thought behind this is all about positive spending habits, not banning yourself from spending altogether.
You will have a lot fewer regrets with your finances when you take some time upfront to decide where you want to spend your money before you spend it.
Investing in your most important asset is key to living your best life
Roughly six years ago, I was in a negative place. I’d dropped out of school and had been working dead-end jobs to make ends meet. At a certain point, I got sick of living below my potential and decided to do something about it. At first, I started watching videos on YouTube about personal development. Eventually, I ended up buying a self-improvement program. I spent $67 on the course.
I can’t quantify it exactly, but I got insane ROI from that course. The program came with book recommendations. I started buying and reading books like a mad man. Every spare dollar I had went into buying life-changing information. The course and those books put me on a path that would lead to an entirely different life and thecareer of my dreams.
Throughout the years, I’ve made different investments in myself that have paid off handsomely. I bought writing courses that gave me the skills to earn an income with my words. I’ve paid for programs on a bunch of different topics from marketing to online business. These days, if I want to learn a new skill I just pay someone to teach me.
It saves time: Sure, free information is out there, but you also have to waste time piecing it all together and figuring out which order you should take the steps in. Paid information lays it all out there for you in a way that’s easy to understand.
Skin in the game: Subconsciously, you devalue free information. When you invest money into something, you become more invested in it because you have skin in the game. You plunked down the money so you’re more motivated to follow through.
Investing in yourself almost always pays dividends. Invest your time, money, and effort into improving yourself and you’ll embody this quote from the late self-improvement expert Jim Rohn:
If you work at a job, you’ll make a living. If you work on yourself, you’ll make a fortune.
A decision-making framework for minimizing regret
Jeff Bezos left a cushy finance job to start a small online bookstore company that would eventually become Amazon.com, one of the most successful businesses in the history of business.
He was earning multiple six-figures in his career already. Why take the risk of creating a startup? Bezos saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the internet emerging as a technology that would change the world. Hewanted to be a part of it and he knew he would regret it if he never gave the business a shot.
This decision came from his now-famous decision-making framework when it comes to regret. Here’s what he says to ask yourself when you’re considering trying something new:
‘At the end of my life, will I regret not having done this?’ If the answer is no, well then it’s probably not worth doing. But if the answer is yes, or even ‘maybe,’ then there’s your answer.
You probably won’t regret going after what you want, even if you don’t get the exact outcome you were hoping for. Take Jeff for example. In the worst-case scenario, his business fails. Maybe he has to go into bankruptcy. But he could always go back to his finance career if need be.
In your case, all the risks you’re afraid to take are probably the things you should be doing. These are the things you’re going to look back on and kick yourself because you never gave them a shot. Honestly, going all in and failing isn’t as bad as you think it’ll be. At least you’ll have peace in knowing you took a swing instead of sitting on the sidelines your entire life.
Moments with the people that matter make life worthwhile
Life isn’t all about living your dreams and finding the perfect career. Work is only one component of life. Also, if you work too much, especially if you work on the wrong thing, it can take away from a crucial part of your life—quality time with people you care about.
Most people work too hard because they have to work hard to maintain their lifestyle. When you work in a way that creates flexibility and you do something you actually enjoy, it frees up time and leaves you in a more positive mental state. This helps you have more quality time with the people you’re close to.
On top of finding a career that facilitates more quality time, make sure you’re going out of your way to create those moments in your life. Call your parents if they’re still alive. Visit them often if they live out of town. Say yes to those invitations from friends. Keep up with long-term friends to avoid growing apart.
When you are spending time with people, be present. When you’re working, be one hundred percent on. When you’re not working, be one hundred percent off. Remove distractions that get in the way of quality time.
Don’t go on your phone while you’re at dinner with friends. Spend less time in front of screens as a family and do something together where you can engage like playing board games or going for a bike ride. Make sure you make time for you and your partner to check in on each other’s lives in a real way, maintain intimacy, and continue to grow as lovers.
Focus on creating a framework for your life that helps you live your best life and minimize regret. Understand how precious and valuable your time is. Don’t live a life guided by fear. Do the things that make you feel alive.
You only get one shot at this thing called life. Doesn’t it make sense to squeeze as much juice out of it as possible? This makes sense logically, but sometimes it’s difficult to tackle emotionally and life just has a way of flying right by if you’re not paying attention.
Zoom out and take a look at your life from a bird’s eye view. As long as you’re alive, you have time to course-correct and start living more intentionally.
Now is the time to think about what your true intentions are. What are you waiting for?