How to Avoid Regret

Insights from the life experience study

Below are examples of regrets listed from over 20,000 participants worldwide.

Are any of these things on your someday list?

Are you currently planning on doing any of these things now? If not, why?

What are some of the things holding you back?

How can you overcome these things to help move toward these goals and hopefully remove them from YOUR top regrets list as you get older?

We’ve included some tools and actionables at the end of this list to help you get started.

Answers from Life Experience Study

“I always wanted to buy a motorhome and spend a year driving around the country with my late wife.” - Sam, St. Louis

“I regret not going to nursing school. That was something I felt passionately about that I never pursued and now it’s too late.” - Louisa, Lexington

“I wish I would have spent more time with my two boys when they were growing up instead of always working.” - Paul, Phoenix

“I regret staying with my husband when I knew it wasn't the right thing to do for me, but I felt pressured by society into staying.” - Kathy, Park City

“It was my dream from childhood to fly a plane. But now my eyes are too bad. I will always regret not doing that.” - Thomas, New Orleans

“I greatly regret that I didn't ask my parents more about their lives growing up while I still had them.” - Donald, Spokane

“I won extensive awards in high school for my artistic ability and regret not pursuing that God-given talent.” - Sherri, Denver

“I wish I would have taken my son down south to Mississippi where I grew up before he passed away.” - Gabriel, Nashville

“I didn’t have the guts to start my own landscaping company when I had the chance, and that is the biggest regret of my life.” - David, Charlotte

So how do we avoid regret?

First, we figure out what we want - what is TRULY important to us. One way to do that is to complete the Treasure Map exercise.

Once we know what we want, it’s not enough to just write down our goals and dreams, because we live in a society that makes it much too easy to NOT take action toward our goals by keeping busy with things that don’t matter. We understand that we live in a hustle culture where people wear “busy” as a badge of honor. But this excuse makes no sense. We can’t be too busy maintaining our lives to stop and do the things that matter most. 

We all know how easy it is to make excuses and postpone our personal goals. To tell ourselves lies like “I’ll do it after I graduate, or after I get promoted, when the kids are older, when I retire, when I’m less busy… someday.”

”Someday we’ll visit that dream destination, someday we’ll get back in shape, someday we’ll learn a foreign language, or grow a garden, or play in a band, or ask for that raise, or start that business.

And then we keep putting them off until it’s too late, because of something we’ve discovered that I want to share with you today. “Someday” is not a day on the calendar. It’s a trick that we play on ourselves. An illusion that makes us think we have more time and always will. 

The problem is that we don’t have clear deadlines, consequences or accountability for our personal goals and dreams. 

The way to fix that is by creating an accountability system. Here’s what that looks like.  

Be Specific.

We can’t act on things like “prioritize health”. We CAN act on things like go to the gym twice a week. Make sure your goals and dreams are broken down into specific, achievable things, not vague, unactionable statements. Travel the world is a wish. Go to Italy next fall is a goal. 

Create Consequences.

Think of one thing you can do today that will put you on the path forward toward one of your goals for this year. It could be something like researching an itinerary for a trip, asking for brainstorming help on a new business idea, downloading a new language app, or booking a lesson for a sport you want to learn. Look at the first step. What consequences will you impose on yourself if you don’t do it on time? Maybe tell yourself you can’t watch your favorite show, or go out with your friends, until you take this first step.

Think of someone that can be your accountability partner. Brainstorm at least one possible accountability partner for this high-ROI experience, someone who can keep you focused on making progress toward your goal. Just having an accountability partner boosts your likelihood of following through on a goal to 65 percent. And, having a specific follow-up appointment with that person takes that up to 95 percent. So if you had a 95 percent chance of winning the lottery, would you play? Hell yes you would. 

Share it with more people.

Say it outloud and tell other people. Our dreams become a lot more real when we verbalize them and make them known. By sharing our goals with our friends, family, and even on our socials or other wider reaching networks, we’re telling people that we’re committed to that thing and it invites those people to help us, cheer us on, check in on our progress and hold us accountable. It’s truly remarkable how many things that initially seem impossible become highly probable once we start working toward them and have people helping us along the way. 

You can even share it with us on our socials as well and we may even be able to help!

Put on your calendar.

Your calendar holds your real wealth.  Give yourself a deadline by putting it on your calendar. You can put the main goal on your calendar, but if it’s a really big and nebulous idea then it won’t get done because it’s not “actionable”. What you need to do is put all the “actionable” steps along the way into your calendar. And at the very least, put the first steps you need to take so you have something that you know you can do to get you started and give you momentum.