I often remind myself of this fact as it helps me to prioritize my day, week and month. Most of us have contemplated the purpose of life, and what our biggest regrets might be as we reach the final chapters. I started The Wish of a Lifetime charity almost 10 years ago. Our mission is to grant lifelong wishes to the oldest generation. Over the past decade, we have granted thousands of wishes — and I have met so many remarkable people. I love to ask them questions about their life, gain wisdom from their experiences and understand their biggest regrets. After all, they’ve already seen the movie that we are all currently living. I wanted to share the top four regrets in the hope that their life experience helps you to gain some perspective.
1. “I don’t regret the things I did do; I regret the things that I didn’t do.”
From not starting that company or taking that trip, to not asking for that girl’s number, the most common response to the question of regret is that of something they didn’t do. We spend most of our life thinking inside the box, and traveling down the safest path. But, the most meaningful moments in our life often come with great sacrifice — just ask any woman who has endured childbirth. Our oldest generation is telling us that we need to live a life with “yes” as our bias. We should aim to experience as much as possible with our limited time on this planet.
2. “I wish I didn’t worry so much.”
I can relate to this one. I rarely feel comfortable. I’m always having thoughts like, I need to be doing even more to make Integrate better. What more can I do to help make entrepreneurs on Adventure Capitalists more successful? What partnerships should I be creating to help Wish of a Lifetime grant more wishes?
These thoughts are what I call “productive paranoia” and I think they are common among highly driven people. However, because of the consistent feedback from our Wish recipients, and the insights they give me, I periodically disconnect from these thoughts, and try to live in a moment of comfort, if only for a few minutes.
3. “I wish I had defined my own rules.”
To some, we are all born on a cultural conveyor belt. Our parents and society shape most of our values and thinking, from a very young age. For example, whatever your religious beliefs today, they would likely be different if you were born in Iran. If this is true, then how do we break free from cultural conditioning to define our own set of truths? It is not an easy ask — but it’s important to live the life that was meant for you, and not the life that others believe was meant for you. Live your true life even if it means dramatically changing what you do.
4. “I wish I would have taken better care of myself.”
When I was an Olympic skier and NFL football player, nothing mattered more than winning. I would constantly put my body and my mind in harm’s way — I had no comprehension of how precious my body was. I was lucky; I had no major surgeries, and feel as good as ever today. Yet, at 35, those values from my 20s have been flipped upside down. I now believe that nothing is more important than our health.
I read recently that heart attacks and strokes kill over 1.5 million Americans each year. The main causes are hypertension (or high blood pressure), bad diet, obesity, smoking, drinking and work stress. “I’m too busy” should never be an allowable excuse to not eat well and exercise. To accomplish this, you need more than work-life balance; you need “work-life integration.” When you integrate your health into your daily routine, you force yourself to flourish by staying on a healthful path. I do this by ensuring that there are meetings on my calendar for workouts. Nothing can be scheduled over them — they are a top priority.
We work to live, we don’t live to work. It’s a concerning fact that most of us will spend more time with our colleagues than we will with our family. Unfortunately, some things we can’t change. Until the AI machines take over, and we all become their pets, we will all have to work to pay our bills.
There are things that we all need to change in our lives, to make sure that when we exit, we leave it all on the field. Life is not a dress rehearsal. There are no practice days, or mulligans, and we only get this one precious shot. Now is the time to help ensure a life with zero regrets.
When he’s not granting wishes to the oldest generation, Jeremy Bloom is a judge on CNBC’s pitch competition show, Adventure Capitalists. Catch a new episode tonight at 11 p.m. ET. Watch a sneak peek of what to expect below.