Whether we are aware of it or not, we make multiple decisions each and every day. Many are small and trivial, but some are major decisions that can impact our future lives. Recent studies have shown that we actually have to make more than seventy decisions a day! Unsurprisingly, our brains can become tired with assessing all the variables involved in making a choice. This can actually cause a form of fatigue that may lead us to make bad choices at critical moments. Yes, “decision fatigue” is a thing.
Knowing which choices are the most important and which are less critical can allow us to conserve our mental energy for the really vital stuff. And knowing why we make these decisions and which, statistically, are likely to cause the greatest amount of regret can also spare us a lot of unhappiness later in life. Recent interviews with people in end-of-life palliative care have formed a succinct list of the choices that caused the greatest regret in people’s lives. If you want to avoid regret later in life, make sure to avoid the following 5 life choices at all costs:
1. Making decisions based on other people’s opinions
In most surveys, this is the biggest regret of most people. They wish they had made their decisions based on their own opinions and morals. Whether it was regarding career choices or relationship matters, they all wished that they had not taken other people’s opinions into account. They wished they had based their decisions on their own true and authentic beliefs.
2. Deciding to prioritize work
Working hard is a great way to pay the bills and give the feeling of accomplishing something in your life. But working too hard is a regret that many voiced near the end of their lives. They mostly wished that they spent more time with the people they loved, rather than working. Our loved ones value our time and company, way more than our ability to work, provide and earn money.
3. Hiding feelings
Most of us learn that bottling up feelings is a good thing, that showing them is a sign of weakness or a source of social embarrassment. But many people regret not expressing their feelings more during their lives. Especially when communicating love with family and friends. They said that they wished they’d said ‘I love you’ more often, hugged more often and generally expressed affection more freely.
4. Not keeping in touch with friends
Have you heard the saying ‘It takes a long time to grow an old friend’? Whilst being entirely accurate, it is, in fact, our oldest friends who are often the first to get sacrificed to a busy life and a packed schedule. We take our friends for granted, thinking they will always be there, and we fail to stay in touch or work at those friendships. Days without contact can easily turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and pretty soon we’re just exchanging an impersonal Christmas card once a year, at best. This is a huge regret for many people and is easily avoided by just picking up the telephone once in a while. Or simply sending an email or a text message and keeping those important relationships alive and well.
5. Worrying about trivial problems
It is often true that we don’t allow ourselves to be happy. We find small things to worry about and stress about matters of little importance. Many people interviewed said that they wished they’d had a better perspective and seen that these things were trivial and not to be focused on at the expensive of a happy life. When we’re facing real-life-or-death issues, the smaller things fade into insignificance and we see that we really should be happier and more care-free in our day-to-day lives.
With these in mind, with self-awareness and forethought, we can all steer aline through life that allows us to avoid regret later on and make us, and our loved ones, happier and more fulfilled in the here and now.
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