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Avoiding Regrets In Your Financial Life


future regrets get in the way of your ideal future

❝Life is too short to be in a hurry.❞ -Henry David Thoreau

I feel nervous as I pick up the phone. I have to call customers today as part of my job. I work as a bank teller during college and the word came down today that tellers have to start calling customers to try and to get them to open more accounts. I guess they think they have untapped salespeople. Our main objective is to get as many accounts open as possible. We even have limits we are supposed to meet if we don't want to get in trouble. They are incentivizing tellers with big bonuses if we open the most accounts.


This is all well and good if I believed a new account would be good for customers. If they could benefit from opening a savings account and moving a portion of a large checking account balance into it, I would be on board with that. If I could help a customer with a large balance in a low-interest savings account open some higher-interest certificates of deposit, that would be my pleasure.


I really struggle with forcing customers into subpar products, though. I know some of these customers would be better off with their money invested, possible through a brokerage account, but we don't offer that and we're definitely not allowed to send money away.


Every time I'm on the phone with a customer I feel uneasy. I know it would be good for me financially - and I certainly need the money as a broke college kid. I know it would be good for my career if I want to stay in banking. Unfortunately, it's not always right for the customers and I can't do it.


I'm lucky to be able to say that I left banking. If not, I most certainly would have regretted my career choice.

it's uncomfortable when we live inauthentically

TOP FIVE REGRETS


Bronnie Ware, who worked as a palliative caregiver working with those who were at the end of their lives, noticed some themes as she talked to her patients. Many people felt regret over various areas of their lives, and she started to pick up on various themes. There were five regrets that kept showing up over and over. She wrote about these in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.


The top source of regret people experience was that people wished they lived a life that was true to themselves instead of living a life that was expected of them. In other words, they didn't live in alignment with their values.

bronnie ware top 5 regrets of the dying inauthentic

The second top regret of people looking back on their lives was that they worked too hard. By working too hard, they didn't leave room in their lives for the things that were truly important to them. Many of these people worked hard so that they could, at one day in the future, eventually use their time in ways that were important to them. Unfortunately, they ran out of time and ended up regretting it.

bronnie ware top 5 regrets of the dying worked too hard

The third most common regret is that people wished they had the courage to express their feelings. By extension, people wish they were better able to understand their emotions and feelings. People, for reasons that seemed right in the short run, never told their loved ones how they really felt. They didn't express themselves and kept their feelings to themselves, leaving things unsaid.

bronnie ware top 5 regrets of the dying didn't express myself

The fourth regret is that people drifted apart from their friends. People, reflecting on their lives, wished they had stayed in touch with their friends. It's easy to lose touch with friends, especially when life happens. However, this seemingly small decision compounds over time and becomes a major source of regret.

bronnie ware top 5 regrets of the dying lost touch with friends

The fifth top regret people experience is not allowing themselves to be happier. Many people put off their happiness until at some point in the future. They may tell themselves they will be happy as soon as they retire, once the kids are out of the house, when they get that promotion, or after they find someone to have a relationship with. Others never let themselves be happy because they didn't realize happiness is a choice or that they don't deserve to be happy.

bronnie ware top 5 regrets of the dying didn't allow myself to be happy

You might be wondering the point of learning about the regrets people have on their death beds. It's uncomfortable for many to contemplate the uncomfortable truths of their lives, particularly when thinking about the shortness of