I met an old lady at a bar in Denver in 2005 who told me, “You only get five regrets in life. If you come across a sixth regret, you have to let go of one of the other five.”
This old lady was as confident in this “5 Regret Rule” as she was drunk, so I’m assuming she’s operating on some kind of insider information and this rule is a real thing we all must follow. As I’ve gotten older, my list of regrets has morphed from things that were very specific (“I should have asked that girl out freshman year” or “I shouldn’t have gotten arrested those three times”) to a list of bigger picture regrets. Perhaps this is a sign that I’m growing up.
So, here is the list of five regrets as it currently stands for this nearly-grown-up 38 year-old Minnesotan with a positive attitude and a love of whiskey.
1. I wasn’t very nice in high school.
I wasn’t a bully or anything, but I was really concerned with being popular. This meant I was really only nice to the people that were “cool.” Ugh, this one is embarrassing for me think about.
2. I did very little work/studying in college.
Since then, Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset” has explained to me that I had a fixed mindset through college (and several years afterwards as well). This meant I would rather put in zero effort and get a 3.0 GPA than try really hard and risk not getting a 4.0 (and risk showing everyone that I wasn’t as smart as I wanted them to think I was).
3. I never learned to sing and/or play an instrument. When I was in the fourth grade my music teacher told me I was a terrible singer. Sure, that was a crappy thing to do to a ten year-old, but I still shouldn’t have let it keep me from working hard at learning to be a marginal musician (another example of my fixed mindset). I really love listening to music, think how it would make me feel if I could make it. I guess the good news is that there’s still time to remedy this regret.
4. I accomplished very little in my late 20s/early 30s. I had a job that paid enough to live comfortably while requiring less than 10 hours of work a week. That means I had 40,000 free-time hours to accomplish something and yet, I have very little to show for it. I could’ve at least volunteered at a homeless shelter or attempted the next great American novel. I’m not even sure what I did instead. Video games, maybe?
5. I don’t enjoy being a dad as much as I want to. My kids are 4 and 2, and so far, it’s been like 97% logistics and 3% awesomeness. The tide is shifting every day (yesterday was like 70/30), so there’s hope for the future, but really, I wish I was one of those people who got real joy out of the little things their kids do (“she ate solid food for the first time!!!”).
I’d love to read your list of five regrets if you email them to me. Unless of course you put, “reading this boring list serve email” as one of your regrets.
Thanks for listening. Am excited to hear what you regret!