A while back, Buzzfeed ran up one of its longer but curiously more profound lists entitled “37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old.” Although littered with GIFs (as Buzzfeed tends to do), the actual list is worthy enough of attention.
In fact, we’re posting the list with my own commentary here as “37 Things You’ll Regret At The End Of Next Year,” because I don’t think there’s anything here we or anyone else wouldn’t be able to pull off in the next year.
…and doing so would make it a hell of a good year!
Here’s your checklist. Get started now:
37 Things You’ll Regret At The End Of Next Year
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1. Not traveling when you had the chance.
Make a trip this year. It doesn’t have to be to another country, but make a point of going somewhere…preferably on a plane, and preferably as a full-blown tourist. You can worry about dreamlining and “going native” in the Tim Ferriss sense some other time, but if it’s been a while since you’ve gone outside of your glass and concrete filing cabinet, get out in the world.
2. Not learning another language.
The research is pretty clear: learning a new language goes a long way to reactivating neural pathways and keeping your brain sharp. This is actually easier than you think. Choose one: Berlitz or Pimsleur (we prefer Pimsleur). Take six weeks and get fluent enough to order dinner in the country you’re traveling to in #1 above.
3. Staying in a bad relationship.
Not our personal issue, but if you’re in a bad relationship, fix it. As the meme says, if you choose to stay in a bad relationship you’re making a choice to be unhappy.
4. Forgoing sunscreen.
Not much to say here. Sun burns suck. Skin cancer sucks worse. It’s not hard to grease up before hitting the beach or slopes, so just take the time and do it right.
5. Missing the chance to see your favourite musicians.
Steve blew this one a few years ago by missing out on seeing Black Sabbath in Toronto. A long time ago he held tickets to see Ozzy in Winnipeg, and missed out because his ride bailed. He did see Nine Inch Nails in 1994, and it was mind-blowing. Yes, tickets can be expensive, but even one great show a year can change your life.
6. Being scared to do things.
“What are you waiting for? If you cannot answer this without restoring to the previously-rejected concept of ‘good timing,’ the answer is simple: you’re afraid.” Yup. Another Tim Ferriss reference. If your reasoning is based on simple mathematics and the inability to do things (i.e., you forgot to save up enough for your trip), that’s one thing. If you look at it and realize you’re just nervous or anxious about it, take the leap. We promise it will be worth it.
One of the cornerstones of our relationship and family life is that we are a healthy and fit couple. Half a year with a new baby, very little sleep, and multiple surgeries has made it more difficult than usual to stay on top of these things, but we’re still able to go for a walk every day, eat healthy, and get any exercise we can. Steve has shoulder surgery in October, which will delay the hard workouts until after the holidays. But watch out, because come 2019 we’ll be on track to be in the best shape of our lives. Want to come along?
Check out Steve’s own workout and fitness training program HERE.
8. Letting yourself be defined by gender roles.
We’ve already established the fact that Steve built a fairy garden for our daughter, and she liked it a lot. She also likes big construction machines. His gender roles aren’t at stake…we can all cook and sew, change tires and saw wood. It’s not about boy jobs and girl jobs. It’s about being self-sufficient and getting stuff done.
9. Not quitting a terrible job.
Paying the bills is one thing. Doing so at the expense of your soul and dignity is another thing altogether. Find some bliss and get the hell out. It’s OK to fire a crappy boss (just get your bases covered before you do!).
10. Not trying harder in school.
This is the year to take on learning something new, and when you do, settle for nothing less than the highest grades possible, even if you have to take the webinar five times before you can score a perfect quiz. Think about it: would you be satisfied knowing your mechanic only got a 55% on his final exam for brakes? Apply the same standard to yourself, and don’t stop until you’ve mastered it.
11. Not realizing how beautiful you are.
Feel better about yourself. You’re amazing, and you work like a beast. Revel in that fact. In fact, ask your kids how they think you look. You’ll be surprised at how amazing you’ll feel when you just learn to love yourself as much as they do.
12. Being afraid to say “I love you.”
There’s nothing else to say about this.
13. Not listening to your parents’ advice.
Well, they may not have been right about everything, but a good quote from Steve’s dad may suffice: “Anything you’re thinking of doing I’ve already done, screwed up, and paid for.” Times may have changed, but there are always lessons to be learned from experience.
14. Being too self-absorbed.
Yup…being too self-absorbed is one of the downfalls of “kids today.” But hey, we did it too, and in retrospect it is embarrassing. Our self-obsessed social media culture actually encourages this, and spending too much time trying to put your best stuff on display for people you met once at a cocktail party can actually make you forget to check in with people who are really important to you. Do some analysis and see whether you’re still doing this…and then knock it off!
15. Caring too much about what other people think.
This is a continuation from #14. Down the road you won’t care about those people and they won’t care about you. So just ignore their opinions and get on with your life.
16. Supporting others’ dreams over your own.
We’re big proponents of supporting others, but don’t lose sight of your own dreams and goals. You have a right to their support too.
17. Not moving on fast enough.
Don’t take a long time getting over things. Get up, dust off, and get back in the game. Major tragedies notwithstanding — you should of course honour and grieve things that really matter — most incidents are just blips on the radar of your life. What could you do with that year instead of wallowing in self-pity?
18. Holding grudges, especially with those you love.
Get over it. If it’s a single incident, it probably didn’t ruin your life. If it’s a pattern of behaviour, get out of that relationship or take steps to fix it. Either way, don’t let a grudge let you fester inside.
19. Not standing up for yourself.
Grow some and don’t take crap from anyone…least of all that bad relationship, crummy job, and people who don’t support your dreams.
20. Not volunteering enough.
Contribution is a major source of personal satisfaction, and a terrific networking tool as well. Don’t go to the end of your life, or even this coming year, without having given something back. The benefits to your whole outlook on life will far outweigh any potential sacrifices you make with your time.
21. Neglecting your teeth.
Brush. Floss. Do it. It’s not hard, and it actually goes a long way to improving your overall health. I don’t care if they’re a bit stained from coffee. Proper oral hygiene reduces a pile of health risks, from cardiac disease to cancers. And you’ll never regret going to the grave with your own teeth! (Plus, maintenance is cheaper than repair.)
22. Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions.
We’re both fortunate enough to have had some very good conversations with our grandparents while they were alive. Even if you don’t have any specific questions, just get them talking. They love to talk about their lives and the past. Make a point of getting them started, and enjoy every word. This year, if your grandparents are no longer around, find an older person and strike up a conversation anyway. I have yet to meet someone over the age of 70 who doesn’t like to talk when there’s a willing ear to listen. It’ll brighten their day, and you’ll walk away wiser.
23. Working too much.
Do you wish you’d spent more time at the office? Yeah…you probably won’t later in life either. So for this year, leave the office at the office.
24. Not learning how to cook one awesome meal.
If you’re kitchen impaired, fix it now. Cooking is easy, and if you have one go-to meal that’s a guaranteed winner you’ll never be at a loss for a dinner party, date, or any other occasion. You can have lots of simple meals, but here we’re talking about something amazing and mind-blowing. The internet is your friend. Find out how to do this and you’ll be a rock star whenever you make it happen.
25. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.
Life is full of moments that really need your attention. Take some of those moments seriously and make the most of them. Those become things you’ll later recall as memories. Why not have a bunch from this year?
26. Failing to finish what you start.
Get the job done. That’s all there is to it.
OK, there is something to the philosophy that if something sucks or isn’t productive you can and should cut it loose and stop wasting time on it. There’s no use in the old work-for-work’s-sake mentality when it’s a waste of time. But don’t mistake that for an excuse to bail when things get hard. If you start a project or a course with the intent of making yourself or the world better in some way, finish it. You’ll never regret the time spent.
27. Never mastering one awesome party trick.
We like this one. Steve’s working on a card trick right now. We’ll let you know how it goes.
28. Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations.
We’re not sure what to do with this one. But be on the lookout. If you set out to do something you think might be fun or personally edifying, and someone from your cultural group says, “our people don’t do that,” do it anyway. The fallout will probably be so minuscule they won’t remember it (and if they do, who cares?).
29. Refusing to let friendships run their course.
Sometimes friendships end. That’s OK. Let them. There’s a natural progress to all relationships, and clinging to something because of established cultural norms (there’s one for #28!) of “friends for life” can really be frustrating. If you’re not into the same stuff anymore, honour the times you have spent together and just move on.
30. Not playing with your kids enough.
No explanation necessary. Put down the remote and go outside.
31. Never taking a big risk (especially in love).
Leaps of faith present themselves all the time. Maybe it’s time you took one. Sure, it could be in love, but any time a big risk presents itself, the results are always life-changing. Do a little risk analysis and see how much is really at stake.
32. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network.
Do some serious networking this year. Make things happen. You’ll always have those people in your contacts, and there will always be an opportunity to build your brand, but not if you’re isolated from the world. Get to know people. They’ll help you on your path.
33. Worrying too much.
It’s probably not that big a deal, and it’ll blow over. Worry if your plane is currently going down over the Atlantic. In pretty much every other circumstance, give it your concern and then either correct it or come to grips with it.
34. Getting caught up in needless drama.
Drama is generally perpetuated by the self-absorbed. Distance yourself from it as quickly as possible.
35. Not spending enough time with loved ones.
Just make it happen. It can be time on the phone, on Skype, or in person. Regardless, this is the most important improvement you can make to your life this year, because it will improve everyone’s life this year.
36. Never performing in front of others.
Steve is a musician, so this is a given for him. But he hasn’t done a concert in a while, so it’s fortunate we have a great group of people come over for our open house every Christmas. Great time to break out the carols at the piano.
It might not be Tchaikovsky at Carnegie Hall, but it’s still fun.
If you’re not a musician, no problem. Do a dance. Do some stand up comedy. Give a speech or a toast. Try a little karaoke. Hell…play charades! Just get out of your shell and show off a little. Even that great party trick you learned earlier would suffice. It’s fun to be the centre of attention once in a while, and fantastic if you can cheer everyone else up at the same time.
37. Not being grateful sooner.
You’re incredibly lucky. You have a place to live. You have food. You have people around you. Chances are the people surrounding you aren’t at constant war with each other (we hope!). Take some time each day to count your blessings. It’s hard at first, but over time you’ll start to find your outlook is greatly improved.