Every day of your life you will make conscious choices. Sometimes they are beneficial choices that lead to extraordinary lives and pave the way for your greatest achievements to be made, and dreams to come true. Other times we make choices that will negatively impact our lives down the road. We may not see it at the time, the long term damage that these choices and situations may cause, but ultimately these types of choices will end up being the biggest regrets of our lives. Here are 10 of the biggest choices you may make early in your life, that if not taken more seriously may be the biggest mistakes of your life:
1. A tattoo or piercing. This one may seem self explanatory and generally taken with a grain of salt. People get piercings and tattoos all the time depending on their personal style, “whats cool”, meaningful or impactful life situations and experiences, or as a general means of self expression. People, especially young adults don’t always realize or believe that over time they will change, develop and evolve. They won’t always like the same things they liked as a child. They won’t always find the same things meaningful, or relevant or cool. Piercings, while most removable, there are some that go beyond a second set of earrings or a belly button ring. Some that are different or unusual and not understood by others as tasteful in society, such as gauging/stretching your earlobes, or piercing body parts that aren’t your ears, nose, or navel. These types of piercings can permanently do damage or leave a visible hole or scar on your body.
Tattoos are forever. Even the best laser removal clinics cannot eliminate all traces of a bad decision, and most will take at least 10 or more $1000 sessions to do a poor job at erasing your mistake. If you’ve ever watched the show Tattoo Nightmares, you’ll understand the why and how people got these tattoos and the scrutiny they’ve received over the years for it. I’m definitely not telling you to not get a tattoo. Tattoos are gorgeous, fantastic and brilliant works of art and expression by both the artist and their human canvas. I have one that I love. I drew it myself, had the artist transfer it on for me and I let the idea sit for over two years before I acted on it, just to make sure it was a wise decision and one that I would still want years later, or wouldn’t change my mind about. What you want to make sure you do, before you do anything permanent is take a long time to consider what your tattoo is of, where it will be placed, and what long term effects will this tattoo have on your life? Sure you may worship a death metal rock band named Unicorn Slayer and get a decapitated horse tattooed on your calf, but are you sure you going to love them that much in 10 years? Its a relationship you just can’t break up with, unlike the 90’s, where we like to forget that decade ever happened. The unfortunate fact of the situation is that people can and will judge you not only for having tattoos, but on the subject matter of your tattoo. You will most definitely be judged, and this is out of your control. Employers may judge you or not even hire you for having elaborate tattoos on your neck, head, lower arms, hands or legs that you cannot hide beneath your work clothes. If you are modeling or acting, these tattoos can greatly impact your likelihood of getting hired. If your tattoo is racial, hateful, or distasteful, it can negatively impact people’s opinions of you, and your opinion of yourself for the rest of your life. So think long and hard before you make this permanent, life-altering decision.
2. Hanging out with the wrong crowd. There’s a saying that if you want to be successful, you need to hang around successful people. People who motivate and inspire you. People who drive you to better your situation and provide the opportunities and guidance you need to get ahead in life. The wrong crowd or wrong set of people can drag you down, discourage you, and most definitely lead you down the wrong path. Think about the people you call friends, think about your coworkers. Do they waste their days being lazy and unproductive? Do they criticize your dreams and ambitions and cause negativity in your life? Or do they make it better. Do they support you when times are tough and are they there for you when you need it the most. If your friends do not add to your life, you may need to move on without them.
3. Saving money. When we are young we always feel like we still have our entire lives ahead of us. When we start making money, we get excited to spend it, to afford new luxuries and experiences. Most people live to their means and sometimes beyond it. They have a false sense of security that they will make it big one day and that saving money now is not a necessity. The bottom line is that is never too early to start saving money. Not only is it important for retirement, you may not know what curve balls life may throw at you. There will be times in your life where you may need extra cash such as health issues, being laid off from work, natural disasters such as storms causing damage to your home, or even the ongoing needs of raising your children. Really take a look at the way you are spending money on a daily or weekly basis and make a conscious effort to cut back on spending and speak to professionals about managing your money and finding better ways to save and invest, especially for your retirement. Do you need to go out and eat as often as you do? Do you need all of the premium cable channels when you are never home to watch TV? Do you need two black dresses when you only ever wear your favorite one? Do you need the most expensive brand of that item, or will a more affordable version suit your needs just as well. Do you need a new car just yet, or will the one that you have last another year saving you $300 a month in car payments. Find ways to save because in ten years you will definitely wish you had!
4. Going to college or trade school. Some people choose not to go to college and that is ok. Your career or path in life may lead you in a direction that doesn’t require education past high school. You may take over a family business, or build a business of your own. There are many reasons why it is definitely ok not to go to college. However, there are reasons down the line you may just regret it. College is not just an education, because to be quite honest, most of what you will ever need to learn in most careers, you can really only learn through the experience you get form a job – college is a door opener and an opportunity for life experience and personal growth. You will learn things. Many things that will change your views as an adult and individual and broaden your perspective on life. Having a college degree opens the doors for more advanced and higher paying jobs and career opportunities. A trade school gives you the opportunity to explore and develop life and employment/trade skills that will help you pay your way through life and be successful. An extended education in general will allow you to mature and grow as an intelligent individual. You will get the opportunity to explore new career choices and learn about jobs you never even knew existed, and its much easier to obtain this knowledge, experience, and wisdom at a much younger age so that you can pave a better and smarter way for yourself later on in life.
5. Getting married before really getting to know the person you are with. With divorce rate at 50% it is clear that not everyone makes the best decision in life when they decide to get married. So many people rush into it for so many reasons. They feel like marriage is something that they have to do and is expected of them. That they are being left out of they don’t. They marry people that are not the best fit for them, for reasons of insecurity or because they are in fear of never finding anyone else. And people make the decision to get married before they have really taken the time to get to know a person. They fall in love and get hitched in less than a year, while they are still in what is called the “puppy dog love” or “honeymoon” phase of a relationship. This is the time where they never fight, never argue, are obsessed with each other and never really get to see the true testament of what the other person is really like at their worst or when times get tough and stressful. When that other shoe finally drops, and their real selves come out, sometimes people find that they no longer have anything in common with their partner, that they do not have the same feelings for them, and that they simply do not get along or have respect for each other. Getting to know a person takes years and sometimes it only ever really happens in a lifetime. There is no rush, no race or no hurry to get married. Take your time and make sure you are with the right person and that you know, love and trust them inside and out, and they feel the same way about you, because divorce is ugly, expensive and it ruins the lives of everyone involved except the lawyers.
6. Chasing your dream job. You never know until you try, and thats the bottom line. Some people get caught up in the security and comfort of their current careers that they do nothing to better their situation. They don’t chase their dreams and they don’t make the necessary changes or adjustments in their lives to do what is needed to get the job or career of their dreams. You can be anything you want to be in this world if you try hard enough and that is the beauty if it. Don’t settle for less than the best or what you deserve. Work hard and never stop chasing your dreams. The time to start is yesterday.
7. Not quitting smoking. You promised yourself next week would be the day you stopped. You bargained with yourself that if you only smoked 1 cigarette a day that you would be fine and it was something you could live with. You made yourself believe that it wouldn’t be that bad if you continued to smoke. Smoking causes cancer. End of story. The time to quit was yesterday, or better yet, before you even start. There is absolutely nothing positive or beneficial that comes out of the long term effects of smoking other than destroying your heath, your mental and physical well being, your clothes/house/car/environment, and ultimately your entire life. This habit kills people and if you don’t believe that it can happen to you, you need to get ahold of your life. Every day you spend smoking shortens your life significantly. Yes there are people out there who some how smoked every day and lived to be 102, but you are not them, and if that is your only goal or aspiration in life, I wish you the best. You have so much life to live, and your life is the best gift this world will ever give you so now is the time to quit and spend as long as you can in this world enjoying the things you love and following your dreams. You will definitely regret this one if you do not quit.
8. Not losing weight. There are so many fatal or life altering diseases and health issues that are 100% preventable by simply maintaining or managing your health. Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, back, knee, hip and leg issues, kidney and other organ failure are all preventable health issues that can be caused by obesity. So many health issues are 100% preventable by taking care of your body, managing what you eat, and making sure you get enough physical activity to stay fit. The longevity of your life depends on how well you maintain and care for your body over the years. Not making the choice to do this now will lead to countless numbers of health issues, ailments, pain, suffering, medical bills and even death. Not only does obesity cause physical health issues and struggles for people, but it can also be mentally damaging as well. It can hold you back from really experiencing and enjoying life to its fullest. Join a gym, find a trainer, speak with a nutritionist, participate in an activities group or recruit a friend to help take this journey with you. Your life will thank yo for it.
9. Not making those yearly heath appointments. Prevention and maintenance is half the battle. I know your lives are busy and things get in the way. Between work and school and other activities it can be easy to let general health care fall by the waste side. The last thing you want to do on a nice summer day is sit in a crowded doctors office for a few hours. You feel great right now, so what could possibly go wrong? Everything. Keeping up with your regular health checkups are critical to maintaining good health, and preventing bad health problems from arising. It also helps to catch and identify issues that could potentially become life threatening in the early stages while they can still be easily treated and cured. Some of these include yearly physicals, blood work, heart exam, and general health exams that can help detect cancer, organ stress or issues, diseases, and more. Women should be going to the gynecologist often for pap smears and mammograms to make sure that they are healthy, and sexually active men and women should be tested and screened for STD’s regularly. Not only do you want to help fix any issues, the last thing you want to do is to unknowingly spread a harmful or incurable disease to a spouse, partner or loved one. If you have any toxic habits such as smoking or excessive drinking, you should be getting screened for lung and other smoking related cancers or liver disease or issues that can be caused by long term alcohol consumption. Even Dentists are extremely important. Most often people don’t visit oral hygienists or dentists until the problem is already too late and they are in need of some type of painful root canal or cavity fill. At the end of the day many major and fatal health risks do not show symptoms until it is almost too late. You will definitely regret not taking care of yourself. Get your health check ups on a yearly basis to keep your body in the best possible shape it can be.
10. Giving up too early on a dream or life passion. Your life is yours to live and do as you please. With so many amazing things in this world, it is truly, as the saying goes, “your oyster.” You pave the road in any direction, you build it up and can tear it down just as easily. The beauty of being alive and having a sense of awareness and a sense of self is that you get to choose what your life means to you and what you want your life to be about. You are the captain, the pilot, the designer, the architect and the believer of your own destiny. While not all challenges can be tackled, and not all dreams can be achieved, the amount you can truly achieve and do when you genuinely put your mind, heart and soul into your success is beyond anything you could ever imagine, if you do not lose faith and give up, before it is time. Life is full of struggles and challenges put on this planet not to tear you down or discourage you, but to actually build you up and make you stronger. Like an athlete, success comes through the struggle of pushing past the weight that is holding you down and moving it out of your way, over and over again. It comes through dedication, determination, repetition, practice, personal growth, ambition… If you believe there is a way, if you believe you can, if you haven’t tried everything possible or given it your absolute 200% best, then it is just not time to give up on your dreams. Its not about what others think. Their criticisms of you and what you are trying to accomplish are a shadow of their limitations, not yours. Believe in yourself, believe in your abilities and believe in your dreams and don’t give up until its the only option. Or you will look back and regret this in ten years, without a doubt.