How to Avoid the Five Biggest Regrets in Life

News Flash

Throughout our lives we are apt to make lifelong mistakes that can easily be avoided. By continuing to make them, we set ourselves up for painful regrets later in life.  

Regrets are byproducts of people who failed to see their mistakes by convincing themselves they were doing the right thing for everyone concerned—possibly even for  the greater good of society. In their mind, perceived mistakes were anything but mistakes, and correcting their hurtful behavior would bring no benefit. But those who took the brunt of those mistakes see it differently.

Let’s take a look at five mistakes people make and come to regret later in life.

1. Criticizing your children and refusing to give praise

The person who makes this regrettable mistake believes it is their moral duty to “improve” their children by denying them praise and browbeating them into being exceptional. Criticism is seen as an acceptable form of reverse psychology designed to motivate the child to reach for a higher standard set forth by the ideals of the critical parent. They often say, “It’s for their own good,” or “They can do better.”  

While no one can blame a parent for wanting more for their child, habitual barrages of criticism negate genuine love and signal to the child they are a failure. Even if the child ultimately succeeds beyond the parent’s wildest dreams, the emotional damage is permanent and the parent-child relationship will be strained.

The solution: Believe in your kids no matter how they currently measure up in your eyes. Notice the good in them and openly convey your pride, even if it doesn’t reflect your exact standard of excellence. If you have judged them harshly, help them understand it was your mistake and ask for their forgiveness. To avoid this regret, simply praise them as often as possible, and do so throughout their life.

2. Believing your job needs you more than your family

This common lifelong mistake has deep roots in the American work ethic. Men often believe they are valued chiefly for their labors and the prosperity it can bring. As breadwinners, they feel the wellbeing of their family depends on them, and time with the family is secondary to the demands of work. Likewise, many career-oriented women drive themselves equally as hard for the same reason.

During Covid, many perpetual workaholics had an awakening. The joy of being home with the family was life-changing. Not only was it more fun, rewarding, and noticeably less stressful, it was evidence they had been missing out by detaching themselves from the love the family offered. But the “great reset” hasn’t lasted. Employers demanded people return to the office or face job loss.

The solution: There is no substitute for love from your family. Accept that you need their love more than any other person’s—and they need yours. Family is permanent, jobs are not. Being an absent parent will bring heartache when the kids move on with their adult life. Set boundaries now at work and stick to them to avoid experiencing this regret.

3. Ignoring the “better angels” of your nature

Sometimes life can throw people for a loop and push them to their limits. Under the pressures of such events, anyone can become unhinged from their highest nature or most reasonable self. In such moments, they may act out in ways they would never accept in another person. Often, they devastate others in the process.

Ignoring one’s highest nature can be momentary and forgivable, but what is said, threatened, or done in that short span of time may not be. It may alter one’s life. Acting out of anger, fear, or peer pressure are precursors to regrets because such behaviors can soil one’s reputation, get them fired from a job, pushed out of office, or land them in jail permanently.

The solution: Ground yourself in your true north, also known as your “good conscience” or kinder voice within. Give that highest nature a moment to weigh in before you reach your breaking point. Meditate on the problem and, if necessary, seek counsel from a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. If you decide to take action, make sure the decision has come from your heart. If you’re not sure, post a Youtropolis Tribal Wave poll first to get an intuited response from your tribe.

4. Being impatient with others

People who are pressed for time are likely to be impatient with themselves and others. Deep down, they’re on a mission to achieve more, be more, and get the most out of life. Anything that interferes with their advancement is perceived as a roadblock to their success. Such roadblocks can be a co-worker, an ailing parent, a needy child, or a demanding husband.

Impatient people feel the heavy burden of those who need them but are often unaware of the anger and resentment they have toward them. In tandem, they feel trapped and torn because they know they can’t meet the needs of others while meeting their own. At their worst, their anger is unleashed on those who need them most, and they end up feeling guilty and regretful for the hurt they caused.

The solution: Trust in the law of perfect or “divine” timing. If something feels like an interruption, consider it is purposeful even if its purpose is not yet revealed. Maybe it’s as simple as your body asking you to slow down, shift gears, and experience some love—which is physically rewarding to your body whether you give it or receive it. So, in those moments of forced interruption, be kind to yourself first, take a breath, and be grateful for the opportunity to give more love—and receive it in return.

5. Believing you’re always right

It’s a fact that most people think they are right most of the time. Even the least educated among us hold this opinion of themselves. When it comes to information, we are sponges soaking it up, true or false, and it’s easy to accept it as gospel—a danger that can lead to lasting regret and even death. An example is the story of the QAnon true believer and surfing school instructor who killed his two-year-old son and ten-month-old daughter, believing they possessed evil serpent DNA.

Those who believe they are right all of the time have a need to make others wrong all of the time, believing they are being helpful. For them, there is no room for anyone else’s thought process or ideas about reality. Although they may come off as arrogant, they are unknowingly addicted to the high they get from engaging in discussions where they can be the know-it-all and prove others wrong. Their lack of respect for another’s right to believe in their own fantasies or truths easily pushes others away, damaging important lifelong relationships.

The solution: Don’t be the know-it-all. When someone tells you you’re wrong, they are looking for an argument. That’s part of the game. Don’t give in to it. Instead, move on to more benign subjects of conversation by politely saying, “I hear you. Your ideas are interesting. Thanks for sharing. Now tell me about the kids” (the job, the spouse, the vacation). In this way, you remain cordial, interested, and respectful of others.

It’s easy to lose sight of how precious and fragile life is. Although the world tends to pull us in countless directions, there is one thing we can control, ourselves.

No one wants to be in the position of losing someone they love and regretting how things were left. If you owe an apology, make time for that person and speak your heart.  Be aware of who needs you and do what’s possible. Stay centered in your highest self and take care of your soul by keeping in mind all that is truly important in life. Let it speak to you and guide you. This way, you’ll be one of the lucky ones who succeeds in life, avoiding its biggest regrets. 


Our better angels tell us what we should do, but fear often keeps us from doing it. Great article; I appreciate adding the solutions.


You are right. Maybe one day big pharma will bring us a new kind of booster that makes the weak fearless.

Well Street

Thank you for this wonderful article. Anyone seeking to live with fewer regrets would be wise to follow this framework.

Implementing these actions will not only reduce the likelihood of future regrets, but they'll also facilitate personal growth and foster the capacity to extend love, kindness, and patience toward oneself and others.


Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Your optimism is always appreciated.

Desert State

Wonderful article with great words of wisdom. You are always so on target.


Thank you! It takes a wise person to recognize wisdom. Your comments are always appreciated.