10 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Older, if You Aren’t Careful
Unless you put in the effort now
image by Gert Stockmans from Unsplash.com
Why is this topic crucial to a life well lived?
Because thinking carefully about the things we are likely to regret can help re-calibrate and re-focus how we live.
1- Following the Crowd In Order to Fit In or Earn Approval
You will regret all the times you said yes when you’d rather have said no.
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You’ll regret having become a false self, both physically and emotionally, in order to try and impress others, gain approval, garner desire, and fit in.
You’ll wish you had the confidence and daring to do what you wanted to do and what felt authentic for you, rather than what society and others were pressuring you to.
You will feel sad that you changed yourself, mentally, physically, or emotionally, in order to fit into society or impress others, rather than stayed strong and remained who you truly are.
You’ll be annoyed you didn’t follow your own heart and, instead, followed in the footsteps and influence of other people.
2- Not Taking Chances
This could be trying out that new job that excites you, though feels like a risk.
It could be making the leap and moving to a new place that intrigues you, to give it a chance.
It could be asking out that person who has captured your interest, but who you are intimidated to talk to.
It might be letting go of a relationship that is no longer good or healthy for you, though which means leaping into the unknown.
It might mean taking a gamble on getting that degree to then enter the career path that calls to you.
It can mean reaching out and apologizing to someone you love who is upset with you. Swallowing your pride, taking responsibility for your behavior, humbling yourself, and risking reaching out.
For many of these, though certainly not all, you’ll regret not having taken the chance, not having given it a shot.
You will then be left wondering, what if? What could have been? Why didn’t I do it? What was I so afraid of? Why did I play it so safe? What might I have missed out on?
“It is not the things we do in life that we regret on our death bed. It is the things we do not.”
— Randy Pausch
3- Not Putting In the Effort Toward Your Health and Fitness
This point relates to everything health-wise.
Exercising several times a week (ideally every day)
Eating healthfully (which takes discipline, and often means saying no to something you want to consume but know is harmful to your body)
Not eating wheat or sugar. I realize not everyone will agree, but that’s ok. A lot of science says otherwise. Grain Brain by Dr. Perlmutter, Wheat Belly by Dr. Davis, The Perfect Health Diet by two doctors and Ph.D. studies, The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant, The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat and What We Can Do About It by Gary Taubes, and The Paleo Diet all say this over and over, and point to research on it. Wheat destroys our bodies and brains. It causes diabetes, heart problems, gives you a belly, wrecks your skin, is addicting, and even contributes to Alzheimer’s. Sugar does several of those same things.
Not sitting for hours every day but, instead, moving around a lot
Paying close attention and attending to your mental health
Laughing and playing often
Drinking enough water (and it’s likely more than you think since most people move through their days partially dehydrated)
Not eating every couple of hours and instead, keeping several hours between meals (aka, not snacking)
You will regret not doing this.
Especially when health issues later befall you, such as heart problems, diabetes, weight gain, joint issues, Alzheimer’s (which, according to both Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter and Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, Ph.D. is caused by both not getting enough sleep and eating wheat).
You will then wish you’d decided more often on discipline.
Said “no” more often to certain things, and pushed yourself to get up and do other things.
It is so much easier to stay fit and maintain your health now than to let it fall by the wayside and deal with it later when you have health problems.
It takes months and years to get in good shape, but only a few weeks of unhealthy living to destroy it.
That’s why you should build habits and put in the effort now, today, that allows you to create and maintain your physique, your musculoskeletal system, and a healthy heart circulation system.
Don’t keep putting off doing that work until later on. Don’t keep making exceptions and excuses.
You will have to ask yourself, in many moments, is it worth it for 5-minutes of delicious taste now in exchange for possible health problems later?
The more often you decide to just go ahead and eat it, you are likelier to have the health problems in exchange.
If you want to live an able-bodied, long, healthy life, you must do this, and yes, it often means making tough choices. It will be worth it, though, as you have your health for decades.
4- Staying Within Your Bubble
This is similar to not taking chances.
Staying in your bubble, though, is more like never trying to make new friends.
It’s always eating at the same restaurants.
It’s staying in the same job for your entire life.
It’s not letting go of the relationships in your life that are unhealthy or make you unhappy, but clinging out of comfort and history.
It’s always sticking to the same habits and routines.
It’s never pushing or challenging yourself.
It’s never daring. It’s always taking the easy, more comfortable way.
This, too, you are highly likely to regret.
5- Not Biting the Bullet and Making Time For the Things Important to You
This can be anything. The book you talked about writing for years and never did. That you wanted to learn to play guitar and never put in the effort. That you kept thinking you’d spend more time with your kids or your beloved pet, and instead, put it off, and put it off.
You were going to get fitter, and every single day, you picked sitting on the couch instead. You wanted to change your diet but continued to eat whatever tastes great with little to no discipline. You yearned to go back to school and get that degree, but it felt too daunting work-wise, so you never did.
You will regret all the things you wanted to do, the things you were passionate about, the goals you had, the things that made your interest ignite, and you never put time or effort toward them.
6- Complaining All the Time
The world is always going to have a ton of problems. Sometimes it will look worse than at other times.
This is NOT to say we shouldn’t acknowledge and speak about these things. We should and we must. Otherwise, there is no hope of ever changing them.
But, to ruminate on them and complain all the time, only diminishes our quality of life even more. It wrecks your mental health, makes your life a more unhappy one, and will alienate a lot of good people around you.
Life will always be hard in numerous ways. There will also always be a lot of joy and great aspects of living.
Choose to (more of the time) focus on the positive aspects of life, what you can change about what you don’t like in the world (and then do it), and otherwise, what makes being alive so great.
When the end of your life comes, you will regret not having done this.
7- Not Putting In the Time Toward Your Friendships (and other meaningful social connections)
Think of the special, emotionally close, rare friends you’ve had during your life. These types of connections do not grow on trees.
Maybe you’ve had a handful, in which case, you are lucky. Some people have had none.
Friends are easy to find. Genuine, truly awesome friends with whom you have a deep connection? Those are harder.
You will regret later on, not having put in the time and effort to keep these special connections in your life. You will feel sad about not having put in the work to maintain these relationships. And yes, it does take some work. Over the big picture, though? It is so, so worth it.
Google “the benefits of friendship” to be reminded of why. Then, go hang out with a close friend of yours, with no cell phones in sight, and truly revel and engage in the connection fully. With that person, in-person. You will then know what I’m talking about.
8- Not Reading More
Books offer us so many riches. An endless amount really. You can learn anything from books. How to speak a language, how to garden, baking or cooking, health science, dog training, engineering, new insights about friendship and romantic relationships, what living in another culture might be like, and what it might feel like to live as someone of a different gender, race, or sexuality from you.
Books transport us to other worlds and perspectives.
They give us the chance to live numerous other lives, apart from our own.
They gift us with entertainment, joy, imagination, and provocation of thought.
There are millions of books out there for the taking, and on every subject you could imagine. There is literally something out there for everyone.
The other purpose and gift of books? They can make you a better person, a healthier person, a kinder person, a wiser person, if you let them and are open to it.
This is part of the point of reading. To read something, learn from it, and then incorporate it into your life.
Not every book will do this, necessarily, but a lot of them can and will if you let them and put the effort in.
Not reading is a huge, huge loss and thing to miss out on. It may be something you later regret not having done more of.
9- Not Playing More
Children play. Adults tend not to as much. We’re taught that play is “silly” and something to be shy about. Not so, though. Check out the work of Brene Brown. She speaks to this topic and how important it is for our mental well-being, our relationships, and our sense of creativity.
Play can look like many things. Having a water balloon fight. Wrestling. Playing board games. Writing and performing a skit for loved ones. Watching a comedy show. Telling jokes. Writing a goofy rhyme, poem, or rap. Being silly with friends and family. Making up zany rules for a usual game you play. Holding a contest with colleagues, friends, or loved ones. Having an off-the-wall competition with colleagues, friends, or loved ones.
You get the idea.
Play. It brings you closer to your social connections. It’s good for your mental health and creativity. It lowers your stress.
Later on, you’ll wish you had.
10- Working Too Much
Granted, if you’re from America, you are up against a tough culture, work-wise. We have a hard time with work-life balance, plus some of the least vacation time of any developed country, as well as, zero paid maternity leave, and usually crappy allotted sick time as well. So, this is a difficult one.
Still, it is possible to push back on this, depending on your situation and means.
It’s likely worth trying to do so since working too much is one of the top regrets of the elderly. In fact, it’s #2 in Bronnie Ware’s bestselling book, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.
She says: “This regret came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
“By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.”
In conclusion, some things you may regret when older, if not purposefully, mindfully attended to now, are likely to include:
Following the crowd in order to fit in or gain approval
Not taking chances
Not putting in discipline and effort toward your health
Staying within your small bubble
Not making the time and effort for the things important to you
Complaining all the time
Not putting priority and energy toward your great friendships
Not reading more
Not playing more
Working too much
CONTRIBUTED BY Brooke Meredith