Life is stressful, hectic, and sometimes overwhelming, and that often leads us to make decisions that may seem great in the moment but usually won’t serve us very well long term. If you’re making these choices, the time to act on them is now if you don’t want to live with regret. Here are just a few things that will come back to haunt you in the future.
1. Not prioritizing your mental health
You might think you’re totally fine — and hopefully you are! — but there are still a whole lot of people out there who are struggling but who are too afraid, embarrassed, or isolated to do anything about it. According to the National Institutes of Health, a whopping 57.8 million Americans have some form of mental illness — that’s one in five, or about 20% of the population. Struggling with your mental health doesn’t mean you’re “crazy” or need to be institutionalized; it just means you need a little help, whether in the form of therapy, medication, etc.
By ignoring mental illness, be it depression, anxiety, or even personality disorders, you allow them to snowball and become bigger and potentially much more damaging than they would be if they were given the proper attention and care. Reach out if you need help — Mental Health America offers support that can be reached by calling or texting 988, or by chatting online at 988lifeline.org
2. Not saving for the future
Let’s preface this by saying that many Americans are not in a position to have any money left over every month to save. In fact, an estimated 22% of Americans say they have zero emergency savings to cushion them if unexpected expenses were to pop up. For those that are able to put away, there’s still not much to go around — roughly 27% of Americans have less than $1,000 at their disposal.
If you are lucky enough to live comfortably and have a bit of disposable income, don’t simply spend it and think, “Oh, there will be more coming.” While hopefully that’s the case, you don’t want to be caught unprepared if you were to be laid off or if another expensive emergency happened that you weren’t prepared for.
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4. Trying to compete with other people
So what if your peers got married at 26, had kids at 30, and were making $100,000 a year by the time they were 35? That’s great for them — and you should genuinely be pleased for them rather than secretly being a hater — but it doesn’t mean that you’re behind or a failure because you’re not following that same timeline. Same goes for trying to wear expensive clothes or buy a fancier car than everyone you know so that you somehow feel like you’re “keeping up with the Joneses.”
Valuing your self-worth by your achievements relative to everyone else’s is a very easy way to see your self-worth plummet when you realize your path is slightly different than everyone else’s. Not only do you end up wasting a whole lot of valuable time, you also miss out on the joy of your own unique life journey.
5. Working your life away
If you ask older people what they regret most about their lives, many of them say that they wished they spent less time working. Of course, we all have to hold down a job and support ourselves, and many of us also have career ambitions that require a lot of time and dedication. However, no position or paycheck should be your sole motivation in life, nor the only thing you value. Work efficiently and take pride in your performance, but know when to step away too.
All of those late nights, weekends, and early mornings you spend trying to stand out as a star employee a) likely won’t get you much of anywhere — that promotion often goes to the office brownnoser or someone who has an outside connection to the boss — and b) reduces you to nothing more than a corporate machine with no life once you finally clock off.
6. Settling in relationships that make you miserable
The idea that you’re better off in a mediocre or downright toxic relationship than you would be on your own is a misguided choice that many people make in life that they end up regretting years down the line. Why would you want to waste the best years of your life with someone by your side that you can’t stand (or even that you’re only lukewarm about)? If it’s because you think you’ll never be lucky enough to meet your person, you don’t know that. If it’s because you’re terrified of your own company, you’re seriously missing out on amazing solo life.
You can build an incredibly rich, rewarding life all on your own. A romantic partner would then just be the cherry on top rather than the whole cake. Don’t trap yourself. Sometimes being single is a blessing.
7. Not settling boundaries (or allowing people to cross them).
If you’ve ever had someone walk all over you, you know just how terrible it feels. While you might want to give most people the benefit of the doubt and assume they want the best for you, that’s not always the case. There are plenty of awful people out there who, when given an inch, will take a yard and then some. If you act like a doormat, you can’t be surprised when people walk all over you.
Being a people-pleaser can ruin your life if you let it. It means you’re always taken advantage of, unappreciated, and with a serious lack of self-worth. Set boundaries that demand respect and consideration. Let people know you won’t be trampled on, and watch how your life improves.
8. Living beyond your means
This one goes hand in hand with the above item about not competing with your peers. So many people erroneously think that in order to be liked and respected, they need to load up on as many material things as possible. They buy a giant house that’s way too big for them (with just as big and unaffordable of a mortgage), they lease cars they can’t really pay for, and they spend and spend on clothes, vacations, and other things that they think will a) make other people jealous and b) make them happy.
One of the worst choices you can make — and one that will wreak havoc on your life the older you get — is spending money you really don’t have on things you don’t need. If you’re super wealthy, sure, treat yourself. Even if you’re not loaded, you still deserve nice things. However, if it’s not within your budget, you probably shouldn’t make it a habit or it’ll come back to bite you.
9. Not pursuing your passions
So what if your mom thinks you’ll never make a living doing oil paintings or your partner tells you the rap scene is saturated and you’ll never make it big. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be pursuing your passions and practicing the pastimes that bring you joy and that make you feel alive. Yes, you still need to be working to support yourself rather than romanticizing the starving artist ideal, but assuming that you’re fulfilling your responsibilities, there has to be room for something more.
The world likes to beat people down when it comes to their dreams, especially when they’re unconventional. However, it’s important to remember that with all the bad stuff in the world, it’s more vital than ever to have more of the good stuff in our lives. That means never letting go of your passions, no matter what anyone else says.
10. Avoiding honest conversations
Whether you don’t like hurting people’s feelings or you feel like your emotions are inappropriate, disruptive, or upsetting, avoiding difficult conversations is a choice you’ll come to regret down the line. Not only does it mean you’re moving through life with a lot of unresolved issues and trauma, but it also means that you’re robbing the other person of the chance to really know you and how you feel. That’s unfair on both of you.
Even if what you have to say might be disappointing or make the other person mad, that’s no reason to keep it inside. For your own benefit, you have to speak up and use your voice. Your feelings are valid.
11. Not spending enough time with the people you love
This is something we’re all guilty of at some point in life, particularly when we’re younger. We assume that our parents, grandparents, and even our friends will be around forever, so not calling them or hanging out because you’re busy or distracted is no big deal. However, you never know when it might be the last conversation you have or time you see them.
Life is precious, and the connections we form with the people we love are what truly make the experience worthwhile. Put down your phone, step away from work, and nourish those relationships. That’s time you’ll never, ever regret investing.