21 Decisions You'll Never Regret Making


"Forget regret. Or life is yours to miss."

That famous quote is plucked from the Tony Award-winning musical "Rent," and it's absolutely accurate; spend too much time regretting things you've done or haven't done, and your life will pass you by.

Rather, spend your time pursuing things that you'll never regret. Positive aspirations are learning experiences no matter how they turn out. Here are 21 that will only make you happier.

1. Advancing Your Education

It's not important what you're pursuing after you graduate high school — just that you're pursuing something. And when you do get a degree, advancing your education doesn't have to stop when you have a degree in your hand. It's a good idea to commit yourself to learning new things and continuing the pursuit of knowledge throughout your life. Whether it's a handy skill, a musical instrument, a new language, reading a book, starting a new career, or anything else that will stimulate your brain, it's important that you make learning a priority as long as you live. Opportunities arise for those who prove themselves time and again, and you don't want those doors to close when you reach them.

2. Putting Money Into Savings Every Time You Get Paid

My uncle used to tell me that I should put one-third of my paycheck into savings each pay period. Of course, I was 16 back then with money to burn, but that advice has stuck with me for half my life. As an adult with a lot of expenses, it's not always feasible to put one-third of my income into savings, but it is feasible, necessary, and critical to put something into savings each pay period. Even if it's just $50, it's $50 more than you had in your reserve the week before, and you'll be thankful when you need it.

3. Starting an IRA Early

One of my neighbors started an IRA when she was 19 years old, and at 27 — as a single professional woman — she's a proud condo owner in Manhattan. That's quite an accomplishment, and it's the result of planning early, saving religiously, and making smart career and financial decisions when she was starting out. If you haven't opened your IRA account yet, there's no time like the present.

4. Quitting Smoking

There's only one thing I regret in my life, and it's the very stupid decision to start smoking. I started smoking at 15 years old, and I'm 32 now. But I'm very pleased to say that I've recently kicked the habit — this time for good, I hope — and I'm starting to feel better by the day. I did it with the help of a prescribed smoking cessation medication, and if you're having trouble going cold turkey, I recommend consulting your doctor about doing the same. There's absolutely no way that you can regret giving up something that is literally killing you.

5. Using Coupons

When has saving more of your hard-earned money ever turned out poorly? It hasn't. Clip your coupons until you can't clip any more — then laugh all the way to the bank.

6. Pursuing Sobriety

If alcohol is a problem for you when you reach the point of inebriation, it's not a bad idea to think about getting sober. Life certainly won't be the party that it used to be, but with motivation, commitment, and a support system around you you'll start to revel in the joys of life that don't come in 40 proof. If you need more encouragement, just remember that sober people never cause drunken-driving accidents.

7. Doing a Good Deed for a Stranger

When has putting a smile on a stranger's faced upset your day? Never. Which is why you'll never regret taking a minute or two of your time to commit a random act of kindness. (See also: 100 Easy Ways to Brighten Someones Day)

8. Thinking Before You Act

Hasty decisions sometimes have unexpected and unwanted results, but you'll lessen the chance of experiencing a negative invariable if you think before you act. Whether it's saying something that perhaps you shouldn't, mulling over an opportunity that you don't feel right about, or steering clear of known problem, take a few moments to weigh what you want to do versus what's best to do in any given situation.

9. Experiencing More Culture

Is there such a thing as being too cultured? I don't think so — which I why I try to travel as much as I can so I can experience the taste, sounds, sights, activities, and people of places all over the world. Our planet is huge; get out there and enjoy it!

10. Standing Your Ground and Saying No More Often

Have people in your life who take advantage of you? And when you give in to their manipulation, do you immediately feel bad about it? Put a stop to that nonsense today by standing up for yourself and saying no more often. Afterward, brush yo' shoulders off and go grab a milkshake. You deserve it.

11. Establishing Your Independence

In some situations, you have to give up some of your personal power — like at work, for instance — but for the most part you should be in control of yourself and your independence. If someone is holding you back, keeping you down, or you're otherwise relying on someone else for anything, you need to nip that in the bud. The only way you'll ever experience true happiness is if you're the only person to whom you have to answer.

12. Putting Yourself First

Unless you're a parent, you shouldn't be putting anybody's needs or wellbeing before your own. Kids need you to care for them; mobile, competent adults do not. If you find that you're consistently putting others happiness before your own, reevaluate that situation and start making changes that will result in your own happiness. Those hangers-on will have to figure out the rest for themselves.

13. Saying "I Love You" and "I'm Sorry" When You Mean It

This is one of those things that if you don't do it, you may regret it. Life is short, and none of us is promised another day. Show affection and apologize as often as necessary, so you don't have to live the rest of your life carrying the burden of avoidable guilt.

14. Living in the Moment

What's done is done; leave the past in the past. The only thing you can do now is learn from those experiences, move forward, seize today. You'll find life much more enjoyable when you live it in the now.

15. Maintaining a Work/Life Balance

What are you working for if you can't enjoy the fruits of your labor? That's not to say that you should blow all the money you make, but you also don't have to go to the other extreme and hoard all your money so that you never have any fun. Outside of the financial aspect, there's also a physical, mental, and emotional balance you should maintain. If your work is affecting your personal life, it's time to think about making a change to even things out.

16. Enjoying Your Youth

I had a lot of fun when I was younger — for a reason: I didn't want to be married with kids and still have wild oats to sow. Now I can relax in the knowledge that I enjoyed life to the fullest when I didn't have many responsibilities so that I don't have any regrets now. My advice? Be silly and stupid and make mistakes; you're only young once.

17. Eating Healthy and Exercising

Living a sedentary lifestyle and stuffing your face with poor food choices will result in a number of complications as you age. Weight gain, health problems, emotional issues, and more will become a daily struggle eventually. That doesn't mean you can never have a cheeseburger, but you should swap out more of the bad stuff and replace it with more of the good. Exercise for at least 30 minutes at least three times a week and eat healthier. Granted, this lifestyle doesn't guarantee that you won't face health issues, but at least you're giving your body the best chance to avoid them and fight them.

18. Learning a New Language

How could you ever regret learning to converse with a whole new culture of people? It's impossible, which is why you should start now. (See also: The 3 Best Language Apps)

19. Taking Your Relationship Slowly

Unless you're in your 80s, there's no reason to rush into a relationship. So many problems can (and often do) arise between couples that get married too hastily or before moving in together and really getting to know one another. Take your relationship slow so you can experience the highs and lows together, and decide if this is the person you want to love unconditionally and sometimes hate more than anybody in the world all in the same day.

20. Purging Negative People From Your Life

Get rid of those people who are bringing you down. Whether it's a family member who verbally abuses you, a co-worker who takes advantage of your kindness, a friend who you invite out but who never returns the favor, or somebody on Facebook who's always posting their drama, say goodbye to the negativity once and for all.

21. Treating Yourself Every Once in a While

Every day shouldn't be a splurge day, but we all deserve to treat ourselves every now and then. Set a goal, save up, and find joy in whatever luxury or material item it is that makes you happy. There's nothing wrong with it when you've earned it. Go get it. (See also: 20 Free and Fun Ways to Reward Yourself)

Have more suggestions for things that you'll never regret doing? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture

Why the need to title this article "20 Decisions You'll Never Regret Making" when you list 21 (there are two number 3s)? Good article with good points, glad we got an extra one.

Amy Lu's picture
Amy Lu

Thanks for catching the error, Andrew! I've corrected the numbering. =)

Guest's picture

Ouch. Still says 20 in the third paragraph. Good article.

Amy Lu's picture
Amy Lu

Fixed it! =)

Guest's picture

I always have trouble with #20. Followed to the logical conclusion it leaves the negative people with only other negative people and even they are trying to purge each other. It becomes a little bit Darwinistic or like animals that let the sick die as they trek across land. I get not being a doormat or a glutton for punishment but holding this as a value the cult of individualism that is unique to the west. One could argue that a famous Semite was put to death for hanging out with negative people and not following this advice.

Guest's picture

#1 is a decision many regret... just as many regret not pursuing post secondary, many regret just "Doing whatever" without any sort of career outlook and they end up 24 working at walmart with more debt than they'll ever be able to pay taking orders from an 18 yearold.

Do what you wish but college isn't what it used to be, so dont cry to the government in a parking lot for month's because they can't get you a job where there is no demand...

Guest's picture

Awesome! Classic! I love it! Thanks for the reminder which we all need every once in awhile. Bookmarked. Pinned. Thanks!