Ways to Minimize Your Chances of Regret in Life


February 27, 2012   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

I have a fear that is shared by many people. I fear waking up one day in the future and regretting how I’ve spent my life. Like you, I want to live my life to the fullest and avoid the “should-haves”. Sounds like a good goal, right?

As you may know, it’s really easy to say, but harder to live in your day-to-day life. It’s hind-sight that’s 20/20. You get caught up in day to day troubles and somehow you just don’t seem to have enough time to get to all of those goals and dreams.

If you don’t prioritize them, you will end up regretting the missed opportunities. To minimize regrets, take these steps:

  1. Really Think Through Your Goals and Dreams
    Ask yourself what you want your life to be like 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, and 6 months from now. Do all these visions work together? These visions will probably change some as you live your life, but having a general idea of how you’d like to see yourself will give you the focus to move yourself in that direction.

List out in detail what characteristics and skills you want to see in yourself. List out anything that you hope to accomplish. Use these to make a list of all of the things you would likely regret not doing.

Here are some examples for inspiration:

  • Be able to bike 50 miles in one day (1 year)
  • Overcome fear of flying to travel more (1 year)
  • Master Italian and move to Italy (5 years)


  • Audit Your Current Life
    To get where you are going, you need to know where you are. Look at how you spend your time – both at work and in your personal time. What activities get in the way of your goals? If you really want no regrets, you may need to give up or limit non-forward moving
    activities, such as TV or games, in favor of practicing a new hobby or working on your goals.Also look at what you are doing right. Do you find that when you work in the morning, you concentrate better than in the evening? Use this to your advantage. It’s much easier to work with your natural rhythms instead of against them. 
  • Get Help Where You Need It
    Some goals are hard to do on your own, but easier if you get professional help with them. For example, goals like “get in shape to run a marathon” or “overcome my fear of flying to visit Europe by next summer” would be easier with the help of a personal trainer and a
    psychologist respectively. Professional help can minimize time and effort when facing big goals that may seem daunting.

The external help that you receive can also be a motivating factor in you putting in the work. A professional can hold you accountable when you would normally let things slide.

  • Find Ways to Remind Yourself
    It is really easy to become complacent and fall back into your comfort zone. By setting up motivational triggers in your life, you can regularly remind yourself of the you that you want to become and put the effort in to get there.
  • You can use songs, images of your goals, notes to yourself in well placed locations, or really anything that can act as a reminder of your goal or dream. These can really help you experience the emotion tied to your goals, which will help keep you motivated.
  • Track Your Progress
    This step is a must if you want to reach your goals and have no regrets. Find some way to track progress on all of your active goals. I keep a daily log where I write down what I eat, how I feel, and any steps taken towards my goals.


You can also use charts and graphs for visual tracking, if your goal can take advantage of them. The visual-ness of the chart can be very motivating.

Life is to be lived, not just coasted through. Take the steps needed to get what you want out of life. Think about 20 years from now. Which are you going to remember more: watching that TV show or reaching a goal you have always dreamed of?

Written on 2/27/2012 by Hailey Rene. Hailey helps people dream big and start making progress on their dreams no matter how crazy or out of control their lives are to start with. Find her at Pursuit of Focus and stop ignoring your dreams. Photo Credit: Jason A. Howie

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