Dr. Travis Bradberry recently shared an article he wrote on LinkedIn titled, “Five Choices You Will Regret Forever.” With a title like that, it’s hard not to click. I’m a sucker for good clickbait. I had a personal connection to each of the five choices Bradberry lists (I included them below). Our lives are full of decisions, some mundane others live-changing, but all are important.
I recently returned from an amazing trip to Italy with my wife. We visited six wineries, saw some breathtaking historical art and monuments, learned more than my brain could hold on to, all while eating some amazing food. While I’ll have memories from the trip that (I hope) last a lifetime – one of the biggest takeaways was the need to experience more of life. In my final days, as Bradberry’s article discusses, I want to limit the number of regrets I have. I am not naive in thinking there won’t be any, but at the age of 30 I’m still young enough to keep that list as short as possible.
Anyway, I thought Bradberry’s list of five regrets is well worth sharing and so here the are (in abbreviated form with a link at the bottom of this post to the full article):
Bronnie Ware spent her career as a palliative care nurse, working exclusively with people who were 3 to 12 months from death. She made a habit of asking them about their greatest regrets, and she heard the same five regrets time and time again. By studying these regrets, you can make certain that you make good choices and don’t fall victim to them yourself.
They wish they hadn’t made decisions based on what other people think. When you make your decisions based on other people’s opinions, two things tend to happen:
- You make a poor career choice: There are too many people out there who studied for a degree they regret or even spent their lives pursuing a career they regret. Whether you’re seeking parental approval or pursuing pay and prestige over passion, making a poor career choice is a decision that will live with you forever.
- You fail to uphold your morals: When you get too caught up in what your boss thinks of you, how much money you think your spouse needs to be happy, or how bad you will look if you fail, you are at high risk of violating your own morals. Your intense desire to make yourself look good compromises your ability to stay true to yourself and, ultimately, to feel good.
They wish they hadn’t worked so hard. Working hard is a great way to impact the world, to learn, to grow, to feel accomplished, and sometimes even to find happiness, but it becomes a problem when you do so at the expense of the people closest to you. Ironically, we often work hard to make money for the people we care about without realizing that they value our company more than money.
They wish they had expressed their feelings. We’re taught as children that emotions are dangerous and that they must be bottled up and controlled. This usually works at first, but boxing up your feelings causes them to grow until they erupt. The best thing you can do is to put your feelings directly on the table. Though it’s painful to initiate, it forces you to be honest and transparent.
They wish they had stayed in touch with their friends. When you get caught up in your weekly routine, it’s easy to lose sight of how important people are to you, especially those you have to make time for. Relationships with old friends are among the first things to fall off the table when we’re busy. This is unfortunate because spending time with friends is a major stress buster. Close friends bring you energy, fresh perspectives, and a sense of belonging, in a way that no one else can.
They wish they had let themselves be happy. When your life is about to end, all the difficulties you’ve faced suddenly become trivial compared to the good times. This is because you realize that, more often than not, suffering is a choice. Unfortunately, most people realize this far too late. Although we all inevitably experience pain, how we react to our pain is completely under our control, as is our ability to experience joy. Learning to laugh, smile, and be happy (especially when stressed) is a challenge at times, but it’s one that’s worth every ounce of effort.
Any of those stick out to you? I’m sure at least one does if you are honest with yourself. While this blog’s focus is on technical analysis and the financial markets I think it’s important to recognize there’s a world beyond the 500 S&P stocks. My passion is trading and it’s something I believe I’m good at. But it’s important to not lose focus on other aspects of life and making sure the list of regrets is kept as small as possible.
Disclaimer: Do not construe anything written in this post or this blog in its entirety as a recommendation, research, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. Everything in this post is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. I or my affiliates may hold positions in securities mentioned in the blog. Please see my Disclosure page for full disclaimer. Connect with Andrew on Google+, Twitter, and StockTwits.