There was an article up at BuzzFeed titled 37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old. While the list is probably a little stretched (master a party trick?) there are some interesting things.
The first one was not traveling when you had a chance and there is a picture of a young dude on a camel with one of the pyramids in the background. There is obviously a financial planning aspect to this. The article implied that this was more about age but financially speaking if you wait until you retire, then circumstantially you may not be able to travel as much as you want due to finances, health or both.
Obviously not too many people can afford six or seven trips of a lifetime before they turn 40 but one or two before 40 is not crazy once someone has found their career groove. How many trips of a lifetime do you want to take? Can you get to one or two per decade until you retire? Maybe, and if you can then there would be less regret for not getting to the last one or two on your list versus missing all eight of them (some sort of reference to George Bailey seems appropriate here).
There were a couple different ones related to not staying in a bad situation (relationships and jobs). We’ve all either had our own bad situations or known people who have. I think of both of these as being similar and would label them don’t waste time. I’ve been lucky with my marriage so I can’t really speak to when the point comes that you stop trying to salvage and just cut your losses but years of misery at home would seem to be unnecessary.
A bad job is trickier. I had one work situation quite a few years ago where I realized it was a mistake within the first week of being hired but I also realized that I could learn a lot by staying for at least a little while. Enduring a situation from which you can still benefit is a productive use of time. At some point returns diminish and you leave. This one job, I stayed for ten months before leaving.
A big one for me was number 7 failing to make physical fitness a priority. Being fit gives better chance for successful aging, probably less aches and pains and having more options in life. Someone forced to go back to work at 70 will obviously have many more options if they are not exhausted after two hours. Quite a few of the volunteers on our fire department are in their 60’s and very fit. They show up when we have a wildfire and are no more a liability than anyone else (obviously regardless of age a firefighter needs to keep tabs on what is going on with themselves first and then also the people they are working with).
There were several different ones that all seemed to be saying that older people have a lot of value to add, that their life experiences usually offer much wisdom to today’s problems.
I’ve mentioned quite a few times my relationship with the guy who was the fire chief here when I first joined the department. He comes to quite a few of the trainings and is a very valuable resource. He knows a lot and is willing to share.
Number 20 was not volunteering enough. I am a huge believer that the more we put in to life, the more we get out of it. This includes volunteerism or otherwise doing things for free. The psychic value I derive from my involvement with our fire department is too vast to adequately articulate. For purposes of this post it is sufficient to say it provides the opportunity to help a lot of people and has opened many doors for life experiences that I would have never had otherwise. Ditto blogging (the revenue from Random Roger this year would not even cover one month’s expenses so it is very close to volunteering).
Very important to me on this list was not stopping to appreciate the moment. Someone said life is about the journey not the destination. This is difficult to get to for many people but I think people would regret wishing away their life (can’t wait until the weekend, can’t wait until retirement and so on).
The last one was not being grateful sooner. This seems very similar to appreciating the moment. Our lives are all of our moments strung together. The more grateful moments you have in your life the happier you will be. Looked at in that context it makes sense to change your life such that there are more moments worthy of gratitude.
Not included in the list was maintaining a positive attitude. We will all face challenges to our ability to stay positive but I guess I am saying I believe in The Secret. When you put out positive energy, positive energy comes back to you. While the first thing that might come to mind is some sort of intangible “hippie nonsense,” if people know they are not going to get a whole lot of negativity from you but instead will have a positive experience they will be more likely to want to interact with you which could eventually lead to their helping you at some point when you need it.
And while we’re at it get a dog, then get a dog for your dog and never drink soda again.