Life inevitably has a few regrets. Life can be messy and unpredictable. There are clearly those things in our control and those outside of it. And none of us gets out with a “perfect record”, that is the nature of this life. Not to wax philosophical, but most of us try to journey through life with as few regrets as possible. As we grow, mature and experience more, we are able to reflect more and hindsight creates greater clarity. Here are 5 things you may regret, take it as you will:
1. Not stashing more in your investments
A weird thing about time is we are present moment biased. Meaning we hugely devalue the future and the past in favor of the high of the moment. For the future we tend to think “I will work it out.” Yes, but what if you could do things now to put yourself in a stronger position. You have to develop the ability to take care of your future self as well as you take care of your present needs. This means accumulating assets now that will support them in the future. Assets provide some value to human life, therefore they spin off income that you will need to sustain yourself and your family.
HOW NOT TO REGRET: In order to not have any regrets in this area, the main thing one would want to do is make sure you are automatically having a good percentage of your paycheck diverted to investments each month. Aim for 15% of your income if possible and have this automated, it’s the main way we can set ourselves up for success.
2. Not taking a vacation
It sounds cliche, but I have always found that the metaphorical ROI on travel and vacation to be great! The time with family can never be regained and creates a sense of True Wealth. The time to reflect, the time to learn, explore, grow, recharge and experience are all priceless. We should certainly find ways to travel within our means, and I believe we should pay for trips in cash. No huge debt from travel.
HOW NOT TO REGRET: Plan and use those vacation days each year, but do it within your budget. My family did not have a ton of money growing up, therefore many of our vacations were road trips throughout the western U.S. It was awesome and perfect, we did not need a fancy trip to Europe or Asia.
3. Ignoring the reality of markets
Gain some professional advice on asset allocation. The reality is that there will be future shocks to markets. Things happen in dynamic human systems. People are not perfect and neither are economies. Sometimes things get out of whack. My point is make sure you have your assets and debts put together in a way that allows you to sleep at night. Anything could happen tomorrow. How many people regret over leveraging in real estate during the housing bubble? How many people were burned by the dot com bubble of 2000? Etc.
HOW NOT TO REGRET: Bear markets happen and they will happen again. It could happen any day. Therefore experts say stay diversified and have a strong asset allocation
4. Spending all your time at work
Work is obviously valuable and important. But Americans tend to not keep things in balance. I’m not exactly sure why. Most, if not all, democratic capitalist countries like Germany, Britain, Canada, France etc. seem to have a much healthier relationship with work. They actually balance things. And their economies are strong, their health also tends to be better. How much money in healthcare do we waste because we become sick sitting in front of a computer for 10-12 hours a day. This may be something we regret.
HOW NOT TO REGRET: Find a balance in life. There is a huge cost to spending all your time working and it will catch up with a person. Creates boundaries at work and if that is not possible, perhaps that particular company or position is not a right fit. Remember that you also interview company culture to see if it is ideal with your highest values.
5. Ignoring your physical and mental health
I will say it a million times, you may have millions of dollars, but if you are sick, tired and unhealthy, why does it matter? Health is not a perfect thing, but an aspect of our lives we can manage as we go along. The good news is that it is about micro decisons. Take the stairs, add a veggie, skip the processed food, meditate for 5 minutes, spend time with someone that loves you and will give you attention.
HOW NOT TO REGRET: Seek help, seek a healthier lifestyle. Make one small change or adjustment each day. Educate yourself on what may be happening with you.
I hope you find these ideas helpful in creating a truly great life for yourself and your family.