It is very easy for me to sum up the reason I choose to do anything in one word, “regret.” A short simple word that needs no defining yet powerful enough to get me to do practically anything. A little background might be in order now.
The year was 1998, I was about 24 and I was still in graduate school going for my M.S. degree in environmental science while the dot com revolution was in full swing. It seemed that every newspaper and finance show on television was touting the amazing potential of this new mainstream media, the Internet. While happily studying in school and perfectly content where I was in life something nevertheless was tugging at me inside. Having a pretty solid amateur understanding of computers and networking in general I began to think if my place somehow belonged in this new media rather than the environmental sector. And so, article after article I began to read about other 20 something CEO’s running their own dot come start up from a garage or dorm room and thought to myself, “Why not me?”
Thus began my quest into figuring out what I wanted to do online and whom to do it with. I got in touch with a college buddy of mine who was a computer science major along with an elementary school friend who was also in graduate school at the time. As we met and discussed various options about what we were looking to do and the type of computer and networking equipment needed I began to question if this was the appropriate route I should be taking. After all, I was close to finishing up my Masters degree and most likely had a decent job waiting for me soon after I graduated. However, a stronger force quickly squelched any question I had regarding my decision to start an online business. And that force was regret. I remember vividly the conversation I had with my elementary school friend discussing the viability of this potential business and whether or not we should go for it. The question was quickly answered for me as I knew that no matter what happened I did not want to feel regret. The regret of not even trying. The regret of not giving this new business a chance. To me, it did not matter if our business succeeded or failed. I just knew deep down that I had to do it because the feeling of regret would be much worse to me than the feeling of failure.
I could somehow see the future at that moment and did not want to stand idly by while someone else would potentially create the same business as I had envisioned. And so, almost a full seventeen years later our venture is still online and still providing me with cash flow. You can bet, today, I feel zero regret in my decision to start this venture as I view it as a success no matter how much longer it remains viable.
Too often we read about or hear about the people who state, “That was my idea!” Or the all too common I should have/could have (you fill in the blank). One must ask why do our future selves often times regret the choices made by our past selves? Why does it seem rare to hear statements from our future selves declaring joy for a past choice made rather than regret?
All of us are on personal quests to achieve some measure of financial independence whether from passive dividend income, peer to peer lending, real estate or other income producing entities. The question inevitably comes up from time to time from friends or relatives even as to why you we doing what we are doing.
I get the sense that our community is very well aware of time travel and realize that our three selves (past, present and future) are really three separate and very different individuals that essentially affect each other. We all know that our past selves give rise to our present selves which sets a path and direction for our future selves. If you have an opportunity to start a business, invest, buy real estate or whatever, take action and never let regret extort a better life from your future self. After all, who among us in ten, twenty or even thirty years from now would want to utter the words, “I wish I bought KO, PG, CLX a decade ago. I should have invested in PEP or PM.” For me, the feeling of regret is much worse than the feeling of failing. Let ‘regret’ be your motivator to take action.
What motivates you to take action and limit or entirely eliminate regret from your future self? Please let me know below.