Things You'll Never Regret
Loss as a Reminder of the Depths of Life
Welcome back, friends.
Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US.
Throughout the year it can be easy to get swept away by the millions of little projects, decisions, and to-dos that fill our lives. For me, Thanksgiving is a helpful time to reflect on what—and who—is important in my life. In the spirit of giving thanks, I want to say ‘thank you’ to all of you who read and support P9. Your support motivates, encourages, and ignites.
Whether you’re home, abroad, or in-transit, I hope you find yourself surrounded by the people who enrich, inspire, and motivate you. And, while it can sometimes mean reflecting on those who aren’t with us anymore, it doesn’t mean we have to live without their impact.
Before we begin: If you’re reading this but haven’t joined the PATH NINE community, hit the button below to join creative entrepreneurs that read PATH NINE to learn the strategies reshaping our work and lives.
"If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm about to do today?"
It's difficult to fathom the pain outside our limited existence. We are the thinking, feeling, and suffering centers of our universe. Pain, pleasure, gratitude, pride, anxiety, fear, loneliness, regret; each constitutes the best and worst parts of being a human.
In times of struggle, it's helpful to remember that we all feel the same.
Recently, I lost a friend in a tragic accident. He wasn't a close friend, but proximate loss is a tragedy regardless of relationship. The loss—and my processing of it—forced me to evaluate what matters most to me and how I can live a life that honors my values. This isn't a tribute to our friend—he deserves much more than I can write about him. This is a reflection for those of us who wish to live and explore a life without regrets.
Losing anything can serve as a catalyst for change. I personally felt challenged to think critically about where and who I spend my time with. So I asked myself, "What experiences and activities can I do that I will never regret?"
The answer that's beaten into our heads over and over is that, on your deathbed, you'll never wish you'd worked more. But if regrets are simply answers to the question, "What did I want for myself that I didn't allow myself to have?" work might make the list. While there are clearly many things that should make the list, work shouldn't be exiled because that's what we're taught to think—that work is unimportant.
Who we are is a complex tapestry of seemingly innocuous acts that propel us through the universe. Work is a thread that weaves its way into the tapestry, adding color, complexity, nuance, and strength. Frequently, it's a mechanism for meaning and self-esteem. Like it or not, the thing you spend more than 50% of your life doing and focused on (i.e. work), is important.
In both work and life, we're faced with challenges. But worse still, we're handed invisible scripts that we're expected to follow mindlessly. These scripts come from our friends, parents, teachers, colleagues, neighbors— everyone and everywhere. Scripts that tell us to:
take the well-paying job (even if you hate it)
buy the house in the suburbs (even if you don’t want to)
climb the corporate ladder (even if it destroys your family)
have a few kids (even if you’re not meant to)
And on and on…
For some, they help usher us onto a path of prosperity; they lift, motivate, and encourage.
For others, they hold us back; they oppress, infuriate, and repress.
For my friend, and for many, work isn't the top priority. But I bet if asked, many people would say that work plays a significant role in their lives because it partially enshrines their legacy. Work contributes to self-worth because what we do is often conflated with who we are. While my friend may have regretted certain elements that centered around work, I suspect he wouldn't change it, for it gave him and his family the life they enjoyed together. It built a foundation for his energy. It made up or unlocked a part of him. He built a life not around work, but with work.
He owned a family business and ran it, in part, with the help of his family. Not only was he building a business, he was building a legacy, in his community, his family, and himself. His work was a part of him, not a means to an end. And this is where the confusion lies: in our ability and inability to find the genuine connection between work and living.
For me, work isn't just about laboring or making money; it's about doing something I won't regret. Writing this newsletter is work, but it's work I won't regret. While work may or may not fill the same space in your life — maybe it's your kids, your family, your hobbies, your pets — these things add up to the sum we all want: a life worth living.
Our work may not be the ultimate representation of our existence, but for many, it represents us in ways that are often indescribable: our ambition, energy, ideas, motivations, and legacy. It can open the door to new relationships. It can help you find balance and safety when things go wrong. And, if nothing else, it can be one way to live a life without regret.
“Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
Like Mr. Lewis, I won't presume your like is devoid of regret. No one should. Life isn't about living without regret; it's about minimizing the regrets that you have control over. Failure is not allowing yourself to experience the thin line between a well-lived life and a life without regret. A life well-lived inevitably leads to the potential for regret, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the type of regret you're willing to accept.
Here is a list of fifteen things that you won’t regret:
Staying out too late laughing with close friends
Dropping whatever you’re doing to help a friend in need
Spending a little extra on the activities that bring you joy
Sitting down to watch the sun set
Holding the hand of someone you love
Standing up to injustice or oppressive forces
Pushing physical limits and doing just one more rep at the gym
Taking five minutes to meditate and breathe
Stopping to give extra cash or change to a person in need on the street
Putting every ounce of energy you have into that project at work
Sending a “just checking in” text to a friend or family member
Saying “no” to another meeting or request for your time
Waking up early to go for a sunrise walk/hike/ride/swim
Taking that ‘once in a lifetime’ trip with people you love
Taking a leap and betting on yourself
Like it or not, we're all faced with the realities of a finite existence. And while many details in our lives are unknowable and unchangeable, we're sometimes presented with opportunities to turn mundanity into miracles. Life simply cannot be lived without regret. Instead, the essence of life lies in minimizing regret by seizing opportunities, learning, growing, and embracing the depths that life has to offer. We have the power to make choices that we will never regret—and I hope, like me, you find a way to make that happen.
So, what is it that you should do?
What actions, experiences, and contributions will bring you everlasting fulfillment and leave behind a legacy?
Like me, you may find that your work and life endeavors answer the question, "What experiences and activities can I do that I will never regret?"
And if they don't, it's time to re-evaluate.
Until Next Time!
That’s it for this week. As always, if you like the content, please do me a favor and share it with your friends — this newsletter runs on overpriced whiskey and reader engagement.
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