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9 Things We Regret Not Doing in Our 20s

9 Things We Regret Not Doing in Our 20s

Life is filled with regrets. Ask anyone around you what their regrets are and they usually have no difficulty coming up with many items on their “regret list.” And for some reason our twenties are ripe for a field of regrets. Perhaps it’s because as we get older we look back on that period of adulthood as the height of freedom and autonomy. As move into middle age, we look back and wish that we had made better choices and taken more opportunities. Here’s a list of things that we regret not doing in our 20s.

Some regrets of wasted 20s

Traveling more – I regret not travelling more, and so does nearly everyone that I have asked. Before kids, and mortgages and marriages, when our commitments and expenses were lower, the opportunities for travel were much greater, but for some reason many of us thought we’d always have time for travel later. We dreamed of visiting the pyramids of Egypt, surfing off the Hawaiian coast, dining at a Parisian café, drinking espresso in Rome, trekking through the rainforest, and so much more. Sadly, many of us never made these journeys and the opportunity passed us by.

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Investing early – How many times have we kicked ourselves for not starting our 401Ks in our twenties, for not putting our excess cash in long term investments, for not investing in our future early. No matter how much we try, we can never get back the head start that we missed. Playing catch up in our 40’s and 50’s is very difficult.

Being more responsible with spending – In order to invest in our retirement or save for that down payment, we would have needed to make wiser financial spending choices. Things like buying or holding on to that perfectly reliable used car, instead of splurging on the new model…because we could, eating out less and saving for a house instead, buying fewer shoes and purses and clothes and paying off student loans sooner. So many saving opportunities lost, money spent on tangible things, instead of on the future.

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Better planning – I regret not focusing more on where I wanted to go in life, what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be and what it would take to get there. With some more planning in our twenties, we’d be further ahead in our 40s and perhaps a bit happier as well.

Seizing more experiences – I wish I had learned to ski and paint, speak Italian and do the Tango. I regret not living somewhere else before settling down. Others have said they regret not pursuing their hobbies or learning to sky dive or mountain climb. I prefer to stay on the ground, but I do regret not learning more, not trying new things that are hard to fit into the life of a fortysomething working wife and mother.

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Living a more active lifestyle – The bodies of youth are wasted on the young… I wish I had run a marathon before my knees ached, that I had biked more, hiked more, and took spinning classes when my legs were stronger. I regret not joining a softball team or volleyball league. We don’t often realize that we have squandered our physical abilities until things start aching and creaking.

Making more friends – I regret not reaching out more, putting more effort into creating a tribe of support that would carry me through more difficult times. We socialize sure, but many of us don’t put enough importance on building deep and lasting friendships. Some do, many don’t and wish they had.

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Pursuing a more meaningful career Many of us wish we had taken more career risks, opted for meaning over money, pursued the career path we wanted instead of what we were expected to do or simply following the path that was laid out before us. How much better to have explored our options and pursued meaningful work in our twenties than to have spent 20 years doing something we don’t love.

Life is good; don’t misunderstand. Few of us walk around every day pining for our youth, at least I hope not, but we do occasionally look back with a wistful sigh and wish that we planned more, lived more, and stretched ourselves more when we had the freedom and energy to do so.

Featured photo credit:  Teenage girl depression via Shutterstock

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Royale Scuderi

A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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