What do people regret the most once they go past 50 in life?
In six months I’ll be 50 but I already know what I’ll regret.
This is the cliche
answer. “If anything had been different I wouldn’t be who I am today.” Like what I am today is so great I’d never want to change it. But... I wish I could’ve done some things differently in the past and still be the person I am today. Life is pretty hard and complex. And our brains aren’t smart enough to figure it all out.
KIDS. I wish I had spent more time with my kids. Sure, I spend quality time with them now. But I worked really hard and, I admit, I probably avoided them when they were really young and difficult to wake up and get ready for school when they were younger.
MONEY. I wish for 15 years or so I wasn’t so focused on money.
CREATIVITY. I began my career in my 20s doing things that were really creative that I loved. I was trying to write a novel. I was trying to do a TV show. I was always around people I loved so much. And I spent time with them because I loved them and not because I wanted anything else. I wish I had stuck with that. Now, in my 40s, I’m trying to catch up. It's never too late, of course.
HUMILITY. When I first made some money I became a bit arrogant. I started investing in all of these horrible companies and having horrible friends. It’s the double-horrible that finally kills you. If I were humble and just went back to what I loved, I bet I’d be happier.
CONFRONTATIONAL. I couldn’t say “no” to people. I still have a hard time with that. I wish when someone does something that I don’t like or agree with that I would say “no” a bit more often. I’ve gotten into a lot of bad situations because I didn’t say “no”.
Here’s two cases where I should have said “no” more often:
-- When someone treats me bad.
-- When I don’t want to do something but I feel bad about hurting someone.
Anyway. If I had a time machine would I go back in time? I’m not sure. It's ok to feel regret sometimes.
I thumb through it like I would a deck of cards with pretty pictures. I would have held my daughter’s hand when she came home from school. And I would have taken her for a walk around town. And she would’ve told me about her day. And I would ask her lots of questions. I'd listen while she talked and talked. She would tell me everything. And we’d walk for a really long time, until the sun went down and I’d try to tell her the names of all the stars above us. Even if I had to make it up.