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The 10 Biggest Regrets In Life & How To Avoid Them

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take.

This past year has been a whirlwind of ups and downs both personally and professionally. Along the way, I hit some extraordinary highs while also suffering some amazing and unforeseen setbacks but even as I sit here and write this article, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I have no regrets and I take it all in stride.

One of the most challenging times this year has brought me to face was the passing of my Uncle Marshall. I wrote about him recently in an article titled: The Most Beautiful Thing I Have Ever Read which tells the tale of a man who lived a life not just to the fullest but the fullness of his heart. His passing has resurfaced a flurry of emotions regarding the loss of my father which although will be 20 years this December, at times – it’s as raw as can be.

I’ve spent the past few months as a husband, father of two kids, brother and son thinking about my own life, mortality and most importantly…my legacy.

I have always been fearless and some may say stubborn if not persistent in going after my goals but everyone including myself suffers from moments of doubt which sometimes grow into moments of regret.

If you think you don’t have any regrets, I would invite you to reconsider your position and here’s why:

  • Regret – is a negative cognitive/emotional state where one feels sad or disappointed and involves blaming ourselves for a bad outcome, feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been or wished we could undo a previous choice we made.

Even the most self-absorbed suffer from some type of regret although possibly disguised as another emotion, it’s almost impossible to not be affected. The long-term effect on living with regret can be quite damaging as well. When you live inside of a filter of constant self-blame, it ultimately keeps you from re-engaging with life, causing the potential for a pattern of repetitive self-focused ruminative thinking leading to possible depression.

There are many common regrets in life and below are my top ten. Five of them are most notably from Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives while recording their dying epiphanies.

The 10 Most Common Regrets

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Remember: Whether it’s a bucket filled with dreams of an actual list, don’t put off tomorrow what can be done today. Sometimes later becomes never.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Remember: You won’t remember how much money you made but you will remember the people and memories you made it with. Money comes and goes, memories last a lifetime.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Remember: As it’s been quoted: Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes. Pent-up emotions lead to poor choices and poorer outcomes. Express what’s there for you and do your best to be responsible communicating how you feel.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Remember: It’s easy to take for granted today what you believe will show up tomorrow. Friends enter your life for reasons and seasons but make sure you take the time to let those you care about know how you feel.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. Remember: We spend so much of our life pleasing others we put ourselves last on the list. Find what makes you happiest and do more of it. It costs nothing except your time to choose you over anything else.
  6. I wish I spent more time with the ones I care about and less time on social media. Remember: Aimlessly scrolling on SM for hours at a time does nothing for you in the long run. Instead of wishing a life that others “appear” to have – go out and create your own. Don’t give up your gift while wishing for someone else’s.
  7. I wish I cared more about those who cared for me. Remember: Taking people for granted is sadly commonplace for many. Stop and check in on those you care about. Just because someone doesn’t ask for help doesn’t mean they don’t need it or deserve it. We are all fighting a battle each and every day.
  8. I wish I was more present with my kids when they needed me the most. Remember: Kids look up to their parents as role models and they will remember what you did versus what you said. Give them the greatest present of all…your presence.
  9. I wish I had listened to my gut more. Remember: Trusting your instinct is part of being confident and although you will undoubtedly fall at times, it’s important to notice where you slipped as that will teach you what you need to grow yourself and learn from the experience. Life happens outside not inside your comfort zone.
  10. I wish I had followed my passion. Remember: There is no dress rehearsal, this is the show so either get on stage or take a seat in the audience. Our time on this planet is short so use each of your 1440 minutes every day and follow your passion. Who knows where it might take you.

How To Seize The Day Right Now

For those of you looking for more ways to seize the day and start creating a life filled with fewer regrets and more happiness, I recommend taking on some of these daily practices and reminders.

  • Learn that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and forgive yourself along the way.
  • Make your health and wellness a top priority every day as you can’t take care of others if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
  • If you don’t fit into the crowd you are with, maybe you were meant to lead it.
  • Laugh often and daily. Find the funny in everything.
  • Learn to be flexible in your methods but persistence in what lights you up.
  • Do one thing every day outside of your comfort zone.
  • Ask more questions and expand your desire to know more.
  • Look for the silver lining in every experience no matter how dull the shine.
  • Reserve your judgment until you have all the facts.
  • Have a mindset of gratitude and be thankful for what you have right now.
  • Practice admiration without envy.
  • Don’t try to change people unless they ask for it.
  • Enjoy the journey not just the final destination.
  • Check your negative internal dialogue.
  • It takes the same amount of energy to frown as it does to smile.
  • Be bold and face your fears. Discover your own voice along the way.
  • Love more, everywhere and in every way.
  • Be open to other ideas and ways of seeing things.
  • Value your time so you won’t devalue yourself in the process.
  • Surround yourself with those who will tell it to you straight.
  • Treat people the way you wish to be treated.
  • Live in the now by being present in all ways – this includes your thoughts.
  • Make time for the things and people that are most important.
  • Don’t hold grudges. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
  • Stand for something or fall for anything (or anyone).
  • Be an authentic version of yourself.
  • Journal daily about what you love, what you did and what you’re thankful for.
  • Never stop moving forward.
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