Vincent’s Blog: Let’s preemptively strike our regrets!

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Our lives seem to follow many default settings defined by the norms and values set by our society, friends, and family. Most of us go through the same cycle of life and only few of us pursue “non-default” paths. We largely define “success in life” based on our ability to score high on our collective default settings. The reasons for staying within the default settings are very clear to you and me: there is a steep price to pay for being different and often little to win. Pursuing different choices takes a lot of effort and courage. You will be the only one responsible for all the consequences. We feel it is much easier is to follow the path well-traveled. We don’t like to change the course of our default life even if hard statistics tell us to do it differently! Nobody can blame you if you follow the norm and limit your regrets, right?

Do you know the five most cited regrets of people on their deathbed?

  1. Worked too hard;
  2. Didn’t stay in touch with my friends;
  3. Should have been happier;
  4. Should have had the courage to express my true self; and
  5. Should have lived a life truer to my dreams.

Fine, thanks for that. But when I read this I cannot help but think that:

  1. Time is short and a career requires hard work and long working hours;
  2. I am “connected” with all my friends on Facebook/ Google+/ Twitter;
  3. Happiness is too hard to define and is a fleeting experience anyway;
  4. I am my true self, really!; and
  5. Dream on people, I need to go back to work.

Slow down please and take a few minutes to reflect on the above. Those last hours on our deathbed make priorities very clear and there is no going back.  So let’s try to make a preemptive strike on our coming regrets now. Take charge. Go to your “settings” and compare them with your own preferences, not those of others. Dare to walk the path that is not the default one and crowded. It takes guts to change but it is worth it because people on their deathbeds have little reason to lie.

Having regrets is also true in investing. I should have… I could have… I knew it… Don’t follow the default settings and end up saying the same regretful sentences. So again, let’s try to make a preemptive strike on our pending regrets now. Make investing a priority, not an afterthought. Start early in life, not late. Be patient, not impatient. Don’t chase performance, stick with what works. Go for the long-term, not the short-term. Be realistic, not greedy. Be disciplined, not emotional. Focus on useful information, not the headlines.  Your reward will be huge. You will have much fewer regrets, build your wealth and have many more hours of sound sleep.

Above all else, our biggest reward is the most precious resource we have: “Time”.  Think about all the time we will free up when we occupy less of it chasing the crowd, time we can use to be with our family and friends. Be happier. I’m in, you?