9 Things No One Wants to Regret When They’re Older

9 Things No One Wants to Regret

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.

The things you didn’t do when you had the chance.  That priceless relationship you neglected.  Those important words you left unspoken…

Every one of us has experienced feelings of regret.  But it’s not too late to set things straight.  We’re still here breathing.  Right now we have an opportunity to change our future.  Right now we can choose to erase regret from our later years.

Here are nine things no one wants to regret when they’re older, and some thoughts on avoiding these regrets:

1.  Not spending enough time smiling with the people you love.

You’ve heard the saying, ‘The best things in life are free.’  Well spending quality time with family and friends, enjoying the antics of a pet, seeing your child smile, experiencing intimate and heart-felt moments with your significant other – these times are precious and free.

Don’t get so caught up in the rat race, working 50+ hours a week, to the point where you are too stressed and exhausted to enjoy your closest relationships.  By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to live on less money, and thus work fewer hours and enjoy more of what matters most.

As we get older, fun is often underrated.  With all of our responsibilities, fun seems like an indulgence.  It shouldn’t be.  It should be a requirement.  When your work life is busy, and all your energy is focused in that arena, it’s all too easy to find yourself off balance.  While drive and focus is important, if you intend to maintain happiness and peace in your life you still need to balance in the soccer games, the family dinners, the intimate dates with your significant other, etc.

2.  Holding a grudge and never forgiving someone you care about.

We’ve all been hurt by another person at some point – we were treated poorly, trust was broken, hearts were hurt.  And while this pain is normal, sometimes it lingers for too long.  We relive the pain over and over and have a hard time letting go.

This creates problems.  It not only causes us to be unhappy, but it can strain or ruin our relationships, distract us from work and family and other important things, and make us reluctant to open up to new things and people.  We get trapped in a cycle of anger and hurt, and miss out on the beauty of life as it happens.

Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness.  If there’s someone in your life who deserves another chance, give it to them.  If you need to apologize, do it.  Give your story together a happy new beginning.  (Read The Mastery of Love.)

3.  Fulfilling everyone else’s dreams, instead of your own.

Unfortunately, just before you take your first step on the righteous journey to pursue your dreams, people around you, even the ones who deeply care for you, will give you awful advice.  It’s not because they have evil intentions.  It’s because they don’t understand the big picture – what your dreams, passions, and life goals mean to you.

Have the courage to live a life true to YOU, not the life others expect of you.   Make time to pursue your passion, no matter how busy you are or what anyone else says.

As our friend Steve Jobs once said:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

4.  Not being honest about how you feel.

Say what you need to say, and never apologize for showing your feelings.  Many people suppress their feelings in order to keep peace with others.  As a result, they settle for carrying the weight of their own silence.  Give yourself permission to feel a full range of emotions.  When you’re in touch with what you’re feeling, you’re more likely to understand the situation at hand and resolve it instead of avoiding it.

Also, if you want to connect with others, you need to accept and love yourself first, even when your truth feels heavy.  In the end, expressing your feelings will boost your relationships, including your relationship with yourself, to a new healthier level.  And your open honesty will also help you to realize and release unhealthy relationships from your life.

5.  Being foolish and irresponsible with your finances.

When you spend less than you make you buy lifestyle flexibility and freedom.  You are buying the ability to say yes to the things that matter, because you’re saving on the things that don’t.  Money can bring comfort, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying that comfort.  But it’s important to spend money on the things that truly matter to you, and let go of spending that does not add value to your life.

Live a comfortable life, not a wasteful one.  Stop buying stuff you do not need.  Do not spend to impress others.  Do not live life trying to fool yourself into thinking wealth is measured in material objects.  Manage your money wisely so your money does not manage you.  (Read Rich Dad Poor Dad.)

6.  Getting caught up in needless drama and negativity.

Don’t expect to achieve long-term happiness if you surround yourself with negative people.  Don’t give part-time people a full-time position in your life.  Know your value and what you have to offer, stay positive, and never settle for anything less than what you deserve.

There comes a time in life when you have to let go of all the pointless drama and the people who create it.  Staying out of other people’s drama is an incredibly effective way to simplify your life and reduce stress.  Surround yourself with positive people who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad, so you can focus on the good.  Life really is too short to be anything but positive and happy.

7.  Never making your own happiness a priority.

For the average person happiness is a choice, yet numerous people are unhappy.  There are many reasons, but it all boils down to one simple principle:  They choose something else over happiness.  Because it often takes less effort to be unhappy.

To find true happiness in life you have to follow your heart and intuition.  You have to be who you are, and design a lifestyle and career that fulfills you – no matter what that entails or what people say about it.  And it is never too late to do so.

So be happy; be yourself.  If others don’t like it, then let them be.  Life isn’t about pleasing everybody.  Begin today by taking responsibility for your own happiness.  You are the only one who can create it.  The choice is yours.

8.  Never making a difference in the lives of others.

Every person can make a difference, and every person should try.

In life, you get what you put in.  When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life.  Do something that’s greater than you – something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less.

Remember, making a positive difference in one person’s life can change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

9.  Failing because you were scared to fail.

If your fear of failure, or of not being perfect, has driven you to take the safe road of doing nothing, you have already failed.  Accept the fact that everyone fails, but don’t accept the act of not trying as your form of failure.

If you find yourself at a point of intense decision making where you’re caught in a spiral of over-analysis and hesitation, and you’re making no progress, take a deep breath, break the spiral, make an educated guess on the next logical step, and take it.  Even if you get it wrong, you will learn something that will help you get it right next time.

Your failures along the road to your goals are simply opportunities to learn and grow.  You might not be there yet, but if you keep moving forward, you’ll get there eventually.

Photo by: Sean McGrath


  1. Lisa Jane says

    I’m thankful that I have discovered these positive ways of living my life already, but thanks for the gentle reminders. I love your life tips and everything you two publish here. Much ♥

  2. debbie says

    I agree with most of what is said here. But remember, sometimes it is wise to sit, think and take the time to make sure that the changes/choices you are making in your life are WISE changes. Some of my biggest mistakes I thought were smart at the time, but I realize now that I was NOT listening to my gut instinct. Our gut is rarely wrong. We must listen to it.

  3. Adebayo says

    Number 6 is the one I struggle with the most. You’re so right! I’m struggling with someone who insists on making me a part-timeer in their life. I need to take a stand for myself. Thanks for the push.

  4. Jennifer says

    I struggle with No. 9. I’ve yet to set any goals for myself so that there isn’t any risk of failure. Just as an example, I have been losing weight since January 2012 and am down 25 pounds. People ask me what my goal weight is or how much I plan to lose — I haven’t even set that goal in fear of not reaching it. I guess like with everything, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Well, my name is Jennifer and I have a problem with being afraid to fail.

  5. says

    Number 5 is the one I have much trouble with. I spend way too much! :/
    And number 2 as well. It’s very very difficult for me to forgive someone. :/
    Thank you!

  6. Kourosh says

    I live in Iran . I am 54 years old, and I learn new things every time I open one of your emails. Thanks, you are gradually making positive changes in my understanding of life.

  7. says

    Love these tips. Whenever I find myself having difficulty ending a relationship with a negative person, I remember the saying, “It is better to be alone than in bad company.”

  8. says

    Great list.

    Very true, it’s never too late. “But it’s not too late to set things straight. We’re still here breathing.”

    As long as we’re breathing there’s a chance. And in response to #2, releasing our ego and pride is crucial in nurturing important relationships. Like the realization and empowering perspective that “I” can change. If I want an important relationship, it’s up to me to change.

    Like with my father, instead of continually waiting for him to change into this emotionally available and deep individual (something I felt I needed or lacked from him) I changed my perspective and learned HIS love language. Just a different perspective and release of ego allowed us to build a wonderful relationship, thankfully before he died suddenly at 65. Had I held onto that resentment and ego, I would have missed out on a few wonderful years with him.

  9. menaka says

    Your posts are always inspiring and I never cease to follow your tips… They are awesome points for anyone to follow!! I’m so happy to lead a simple but fascinating life with all your guidance. Thank you so much Marc and Angel!!! I’m glad that both of you crossed my life!

  10. Mary says

    I am grateful for the lift I get from this blog. When I read your writing I feel more courageous to make the little efforts in life to make a positive change. Thank you!! It is my FAVORITE blog to read! :)

  11. says

    Great tips for the young and old alike. It is never to late to be happy. Live in a smaller house and make it a home for happy people.

    When we stop trying to impress other with our stuff and simply life we can live in peace.

  12. Alyce says

    Well Marc and Angel, where have you been these last 8 years of my life? A rhetorical question of course.
    I’m just pleased that I found you, and that I’m reading these profound, useful “words of wisdom” when I need them most! Thank you and your readers for the personal insights that are helping me see the light.
    I subscribed after reading just the beginning and this is the first blog I will con’t to read and follow! Love the way your words make me feel.

  13. says

    Yes, yes, yes such a great list! I have been striving to achieve much of this in my own life. Thanks for the motivating reminders.

  14. says

    If your fear of failure, or of not being perfect, has driven you to take the safe road of doing nothing, you have already failed. Accept the fact that everyone fails, but don’t accept the act of not trying as your form of failure.
    – so true. Mistakes make us a better person actually :)

  15. says

    All the points you raised are valid and I completely agree with them. I’ve learnt from previous experience this is the only way to live life you want to succeed and be happy. In fact after just having a fantastic weekend away with my friends, we all agreed we needed to indulge ourselves more often!

  16. says

    Most of those I have won my battles with. However, I’m still finding myself doing #6 – Getting caught up in needless drama and negativity. I realize it someplace in the middle of it all and try to find the most logical exit I can.

  17. annie sturges says

    I am new to this kind of thinking, but i agree with all that was said here. I needed to read this today.

  18. says

    I so appreciate your wisdom on this site!! It mostly is thoughts that have crossed my mind once in a while, but I get caught up in the ebb and flow of life and forget. When I read your posts, I feel kind of like I am taking myself to church. It gives me the confidence in becoming the better, more-rounded person I imagine myself as. It is good to know that I am not alone in these inner and outer struggles we all face in life.

  19. Kara says

    I read and think yep, I know that or yeah, that makes sense. It’s just so easy to forget these simple thoughts and guidelines. I love the reminders and the warm inspiring feeling I get whenever I read your posts. Thank you thank you thank you.

  20. Michael says

    Remember one other important thing. Goals are never set in stone. Goals are important at that moment in your life but goals (like most everything) should be changed as your meet your goals. Always live with a goal but never be afraid to challenge yourself and reset your goal…..this is a life well lived!

  21. says

    #2 “Holding a grudge and never forgiving someone you care about.”
    This one really resonated with me. I’ve recently realized how much hatred and anger I have against my mother for all the verbal/emotional abuse she’s put me through. It was hard to come to terms with it, because in my culture, we’re taught that it’s not okay to be angry, especially against our parents. But only through acknowledging the anger can you really start to let it go.
    Thank you for this insightful post

  22. Charismatic charles says

    true words never expire they are like wine the older the the more insightful. i appreciate these. thanks guys I’m so “hearting it.” pardon my french…

  23. says

    Fantastic! This reminded me of what Tony Robbins calls, “The Rocking Chair Test.” When you’re in the autumn of your years, sat in that rocking chair, looking back at your life, are you going to be saying, “How I wish I’d done this, gone for that!” Etc. Or are you going to be looking back with a feeling of fulfilment because you did those things you’d always wanted to do? That thought often rings in the back of my mind.

    I auditioned for X Factor last year & felt like a complete fool afterwards. And yet, I’m so glad that I did it. At least I’ve had the experience. It’s one more thing off of my Bucket List! :)

    Many thanks for your words of wisdom! Wishing you love, light & blessings in abundance! x <3 x

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