12 choices that will leave you with deep regrets later in life (that so many people make)

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“Regrets, I’ve had a few” sang Frank Sinatra.

Only, the next line of the song kicks straight back with: “But then again too few to mention”.

So, do you want to be more like Frank?

Do you want to look back on your life when you’re older…much older…with few regrets dwelling in your mind?

Then you must—absolutely MUST—avoid making the following choices.

1. Neglecting your dreams and passions.

Neglecting your dreams and passions is like leaving a vintage bottle of wine to collect dust in the cellar of life.

It’s the slow burn of regret that gnaws at your soul, reminding you of the vibrant aspirations you once held dear.

Whether it’s the art you never pursued, the business idea you never brought to life, or the adventure you never embarked upon, neglecting your dreams is a betrayal of your true self.

It’s like denying a part of your essence, and as the years pass, the weight of unfulfilled potential becomes heavier than the burden of taking the leap.

So, please, I beg of you, embrace your passions, chase your dreams, and let your true self shine through the tapestry of life.

2. Chasing someone else’s version of success.

Have you ever tried to fit into a pair of shoes that are two sizes too small? They’re uncomfortable, constricting, and ultimately, not meant for you.

It’s the same with success. If the success you are chasing is not yours, it won’t feel right, comfortable, or enjoyable.

Instead, you’ll be trapped by it.

Maybe it’s the pressure to follow a traditional career path, conform to societal expectations, or emulate someone else’s achievements…

Whatever it is, it’s a recipe for a life that feels borrowed, not lived.

Your success story should be penned with the ink of your own passions, values, and aspirations, not ghostwritten by the expectations of others.

The only measure of success that truly matters is the one that resonates with the beat of your own heart.

Extra reading: How To Define Your Vision Of Success (And How NOT To)

3. Putting work before life.

You’ve heard it before: “work hard, play hard.”

But what happens when you work so hard that you forget to play?

It’s the relentless hustle that blurs the boundaries between office and home, leaving little room for the simple joys that make life worth living.

Whether it’s the missed family gatherings, the postponed adventures, or the neglected hobbies, prioritizing work over life is a one-way ticket to a regretful rendezvous with the ticking clock.

After all, the true riches of life are found in the moments shared with loved ones, the experiences that ignite your soul, and the balance that keeps your spirit afloat.

4. Not taking risks.

Not taking risks may feel safe, but it also holds you back in so many ways.

It’s the seductive comfort zone that lulls you into a false sense of security, shielding you from the thrill of new adventures and the taste of sweet triumph.

Whether it’s the fear of failure, the dread of uncertainty, or the hesitance to step into the unknown, playing it safe is a silent symphony of regrets waiting to be composed.

You’ll never know what might be unless you release your tight grip on control and embrace the chances that float your way.

The regrets that sting the most are not the mistakes made, but the chances not taken—and this is backed up by science.

5. Living in your head.

Living in your head can feel like being trapped in a maze of your own thoughts, constantly analyzing, overthinking, and second-guessing.

It’s like having a never-ending conversation with yourself, but the problem is, you’re not always the best company.

You miss out on the real world, the experiences, the connections, and the spontaneity that make life truly fulfilling.

Your existence is played out in the ‘unreality’ of your mind which is a place of grayness and anxiety, rather than the infinitely bright, diverse, and often welcoming world around us.

If you don’t notice that world, you’ll have fewer fond memories to look back on when you reach your elder days.

Extra reading: How To Stop Living In Your Head: 6 Tips That Really Work!

6. Being too hard on yourself.

We all have that little voice in our heads that loves to point out our flaws and shortcomings.

It’s like having a relentless inner critic who never takes a day off.

But here’s the truth—being too hard on yourself only adds unnecessary weight to your journey.

It’s like carrying around a backpack full of bricks, each one made of harsh words, disapproval, and self-loathing.

You’re constantly berating yourself for not being perfect, for making mistakes, for not measuring up to some impossible standard. A standard that you don’t hold others to.

You gotta cut yourself some slack, give yourself a break, and remember that self-compassion is not a weakness, it’s a superpower.

Trust me, the older you—the you in 30, 40, 50 years’ time—will wish they showed the you of today more kindness than they did.

Extra reading: 18 Signs You’re Being Too Hard On Yourself

7. Not believing in yourself.

If you stand frozen on the diving board of life rather than leaping and making a splash, it’s probably self-doubt that holds you back.

You hesitate, you tell yourself you can’t, you find all the possible reasons why you’ll end up painfully belly-flopping if you dare to try.

But here’s the thing—you’ve got to be your own biggest cheerleader. You’ve got to believe in your potential, your dreams, and your ability to overcome obstacles.

No one else will ever believe in you enough to make you do something. That belief has to come from within.

And if you can’t find that belief, you’ll miss out on so many potentially wonderful experiences, and you’ll be filled with regret when you’re older.

8. Putting on an act to please others.

Do you perform for others? Do you pretend to be who you think they want you to be?

Exhausting, isn’t it?

Neglecting your authenticity saps the life from you.

But here’s the plot twist—the world doesn’t need another actor. It needs the raw, unfiltered version of you.

You must embrace your quirks, your unique perspective, and your individuality.

Let go of the need for external validation and watch as the spotlight shifts from pleasing others to simply being true to yourself.

The alternative is to live a life that is not truly yours, and never will be.

9. Taking the people in your life for granted.

The relationships that matter in your life are like plants in your own personal garden. Neglect them and they will wither and die.

I get it, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, sometimes overlooking the incredible individuals who enrich our days.

But people only have so much patience—if you do not show them that they matter to you, they’ll believe it, and they’ll disappear from your life.

And the people we cohabit this world with, those we share our lives with, are right at the top of the list of things we’ll regret not putting more time and effort into when we look back on our lives.

10. Always wanting more, more, more.

Ah, the insatiable appetite for more—it’s like a bottomless brunch of desires.

We live in a world where the mantra “more is more” echoes through our aspirations and material cravings.

Reality check: true abundance isn’t found in the relentless pursuit of more possessions or accolades.

It’s about savoring the richness of the present moment, reveling in the simple joys, and finding contentment in the here and now.

So, instead of chasing after an endless buffet of wants, take a moment to indulge in the decadence of gratitude and the lavishness of appreciating what you already have.

After all, the most luxurious treasures are often found in the elegance of sufficiency, not in the frenzy of endless acquisition.

11. Acting against your values or beliefs.

This modern world we live in is so full of trends to follow and influences that constantly vie for our attention.

It’s easy to get swept up in the allure of conformity.

Then there is peer pressure—that push to do a certain thing because that’s what others expect of you.

Before you know it, you’ve gone and done a thing that you didn’t want to do or become a person you don’t recognize in the mirror.

And here’s the kicker: people actually have less respect for those who bend to the will of others rather than staying aligned with their values and their true selves.

And trust me, you’ll have nothing but regret when you look back on a life that flies in the face of so much you believe in.

12. Living too much for yourself.

“Was mine a life worth living? Did I enrich the world and the people in it?”

These are the sorts of questions you will ask yourself as you approach your end days.

And you want to be able to answer with a resounding yes!

Of course, it’s a matter of balance. You shouldn’t live entirely for others, nor should you live entirely for yourself.

If you put yourself first all the time, you will feel empty and unfulfilled later in life.

After all, true joy and satisfaction come from lifting others up, lending a helping hand, and being of service to those around you.

The most rewarding journey is the one where we walk hand in hand, supporting and uplifting one another along the way.

About The Author

Steve Phillips-Waller is the founder and editor of A Conscious Rethink. He has written extensively on the topics of life, relationships, and mental health for more than 8 years.