Sunday, March 9, 2014

Will You Have Regrets? What Older Persons Can Teach Us ...

I tend not to dwell upon the past. Still, I tend to regret a few things, such as the few times in life I have said words which caused another person unnecessary sorrow. Perhaps another regret – not learning to overcome my fear of rejection, and shyness, much earlier in my life than I did.

However, I don’t have all that many regrets in my life, at this point. Perhaps that is because I’ve viewed each failure as a learning experience and a core part of whom I am today, which I would not change. Or perhaps it is because I still seek, each and every day, to accomplish my “bucket list” – whether it be adventures with family and friends, personal self-enrichment, or contributing in some small way to make the world a better place.

I suppose that I could regret not being provided with better looks, a more interesting personality, or greater athletic abilities. But limitations are what can make us strong. In fact, many leaders of major corporations and in government are dyslexic, possess other learning disabilities, suffered while young from shyness, or overcame physical handicaps. Perhaps the struggle to overcome such obstacles empowered them with the ability to overcome lesser obstacles which appeared later on their path to success.

We all have busy lives. Choosing our priorities, for how we spend the limited time we have, is one key to having a successful life.

When older persons are asked about their greatest regrets in life, the results are interesting. And we can learn from their shared wisdom. Here’s a “Top 12” list of such regrets. How many of them can you already relate to?

  1. Not speaking up against bullies, when we had the chance.
  2. Not having enough confidence in myself. Living a life of fear. Being scared to do things. Not asking that girl/boy out, due to fear.
  3. Not realizing how beautiful each of us are. Caring too much about what other people think. Doubting ourselves.
  4. Not trying harder at school and in college, whether it be in the classroom or getting involved in activities. (It’s not just that your grades play a role in determining where you end up in life. Eventually you’ll realize how neat it was to get to spend all day learning, both inside and outside the classroom, and you will wish you’d used your time – the one thing you can never replace – more wisely.)
  5. Working so much at the expense of family and friendships. Here are some related regrets ... not turning off smart phones, and being “always available” to those with whom we worked. Not spending enough time with family and friends. Not traveling with family.
  6. Not burying the hatchet with family members and old friends. A related regret – holding on to grudges, and not forgiving another for a harm endured..
  7. Getting involved with the wrong crowd when we were younger. In other words, letting others pull us down.
  8. Staying in bad relationships for far too long. And, not picking ourselves off the ground and moving on fast enough, afterward.
  9. Not applying for our dream jobs. Accepting jobs that pay, over jobs that inspire. Not quitting terrible jobs.
  10. Failing to make personal fitness a priority. Because health is so important.
  11. Not expressing gratitude. Being afraid to say “I love you.”
  12. Not stopping enough to fully appreciate the moment.

It's a nice list. I'm certain most of you have some of the regrets on the list above. And, perhaps, a few different regrets.

Funny ... in all my conversations with retirees (hundreds of times, over the years) in discussing their remaining goals, and regrets, I've never had anyone ever mention to me that they regretted not watching more television, or not playing more video games. Imagine what you could do with your time, if you turned off the t.v. and put the video games away in the closet.

Don’t possess regrets at the end of your life. Instead, live a life of passion, wonder, richness, and personal fulfillment.

You are only confined by the wall you build yourself. Learn to enhance your abilities to suck all the marrow out of life. Act, and never look back.


  • Adopt a mindset of continual self-improvement and personal growth.
  • Obtain 9 hours 15 minutes (on average) of sleep to become more productive and to increase your capacity to learn.
  • When obstacles are presented, use your grit to persevere.
  • Possess S.M.A.R.T. goals – and review them daily.
  • Don’t let others’ views – or your own limiting views – define your future.
  • Don’t lie down with dogs. Choose friends who also desire to be successful, and who work hard to be such!
  • Ooze confidence! (If you lack confidence, fake it until you become it! It works!)
  • Expand your “comfort zone” – do one thing each day that scares you!
  • Choose to want to succeed as much as you want to breathe!
  • Live one day at a time. Each day brings forth a new opportunity.
  • Express gratitude to others, always.
  • Practice kindness, compassion and empathy. 

And ...

  • In a world filled with doubt, you must dare to dream.
  • In a world filled with anger, you must dare to forgive.
  • In a world filled with hate, you must dare to love.
  • In a world filled with distrust, you must dare to believe.
  • And once you do, you will find that power you once thought you lacked.

Believe in yourself. Seek continual self-improvement. Act today. And don't possess regrets near the end of your life, due to not engaging with the world today and tomorrow.

All my best. - Ron

Professor Ron A. Rhoades, JD, CFP(r) teaches Business Law, Retirement Planning, Investment Planning, Employee Benefits Planning, Money & Banking, Insurance & Risk Management, and the Personal Financial Planning Capstone courses at Alfred State College, Alfred, NY. He is an EPLP Mentor, C.R.E.A.T.E. program mentor, serves as advisor to Alfred State's Business Professionals of America club, and serves as academic advisor to dozens of students.

Professor Rhoades is the author of "CHOOSE TO SUCCEED IN COLLEGE AND IN LIFE: Continuously Improve, Persevere, and Enjoy the Journey," a 10-week program for success in college (available for $2.99 in Kindle store at, or in paperback for $6.99). Professor Rhoades may be reached by e-mail at:

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ron. Definitely something to think about and change while it is still not late!


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