What do you think when you hear the phrase no regrets? The first thing that comes to my mind is the commercial where the tattoo artist is eating a Milky Way™ candy bar and misspells no regrets to no regerts. But when I stop and think about it, most regrettable situations make it clear hindsight is 20/20. My “in-the-moment” sight is foggy at best.
Live your best life and no regrets are phrases that show up often on social media. Some posts are genuine; others are not. The idea behind both axioms is you choose to live life the way you choose. Is there a gap between what you want from life and how you live your life?
This was a tagline in a recent article by a young millennial writer in NYC. In the article, he talks about many friends and colleagues stepping out of their existing lives to search for what is next in life. Then he reflects on the current situation, taking a step back to look at the “great resignation,” the way many (especially millennials) are changing careers in search of higher wages and untethered lifestyles, free to live and work wherever they please.
As a millennial, it is exciting to think the pandemic has changed how we all work and interact. While the “great resignation” has caused many people to change careers, we have also seen an increase in remote workers. Pandemic-fueled technology enabled companies to allow employees the option to work from anywhere. Many workers enjoy this freedom to work from wherever they choose.
A 2011 survey by Morrison & Roese showed the top five significant life regrets included romance, family, education, career, and finance. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed many of us to think about what we regret about our current life situation and consider what we want to do better moving forward. Often our in-the-moment sight lets us down, and the choices we make don’t turn out as intended. Most of us want close, loving relationships with our families, to be great parents, to be fulfilled in our careers, and to have lots of money in the bank. For those things to happen, it takes work on our part—a lot of work! The problem with the notion of living your best life and no regrets is many people associate these ideals with an easy life.
Most life decisions come within the first five years of being on our own. The correlation between that period and significant life regrets is extremely high. Again, hindsight is 20/20, so we often see our youthful mistakes on full display later in life.
So, how do we live a life with no regrets? We don’t. In the Garden of Eden, we probably could have, but since the Fall, regrets are an intrinsic part of our lives. However, we can minimize the regrets in our lives. But it takes work on our part. Work to have loving relationships with our spouse, kids, and parents. Realize our best life might not be their best life, and some compromise will be needed. We must communicate clearly with one another to find a good balance. Also, understand we are all a little selfish, so we won’t always agree on everything.
Sometimes, we are limited to our skillset or employment opportunities in our careers, but how we feel about our jobs may depend on what the job enables us to do. If your job needs to fulfill a passion or desire in your life, apply and search for the position of your dreams. In the meantime, work a job that pays the bills, feeds your family, and makes it possible to live.
Dream job opportunities may not come around often, but you won’t know if you are not looking and working towards that end goal. Also, don’t discount what the Lord has provided for you. Sometimes your job or career isn’t what you dreamed (or want), but it is the work to which the Lord has called you. Remember the Prophet Jeremiah? I’m sure it was never his dream to be the “weeping prophet” who knew the sins of Israel and foretold the coming destruction and exile. But he faithfully completed the job the Lord gave him.
We will always experience regrets in finances because we are influenced by outside forces more than we think. The sole purpose of marketing is to convince you that you need something, that what you have is not enough. While we increase our income by requesting raises, taking second or third jobs, or starting a side business, the key to financial success is to make wise decisions with our current income first. Debt is a major regret for many because of the opportunities it robs from them later in life.
Not saving for the future also causes major regrets and keeps us from ever living our best lives. Find a moment of clarity in your foggy, in-the-moment vision, and start setting aside savings and paying down debt. No one gets to retirement and regrets saving too much money! Living without regrets requires hard work and a constant struggle for balance. But satisfaction comes with gaining something you put effort into. Talk to your family and friends, enjoy the time the Lord has blessed you with here on this earth, and work to make the opportunities He has provided the best they can be.
This article was previously posted in the June/July 2022 edition of ONE Magazine.