I asked hundreds of people about their biggest life decisions. Here's what I learned - Deepstash

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Big decisions are significant because they are rare

Big decisions are significant because they are rare

We make decisions throughout life. Some decisions are big and affect our lives for years or even decades.

A big decision is so significant because it is rare. You don't get an opportunity to learn from your mistakes. This makes it important to learn from others who have been there before.

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Life's biggest decisions

Research found decisions that are very significant and common are getting married and having a child. Other fairly common big life decisions include starting a new job and pursuing a career.

Less common, but among the highest-ranked life decisions include ending a life of an unborn child or a dying parent and engaging in self-harm.

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Life's biggest regrets

Much can be learned about how to make good life decisions by finding out what people's biggest regrets are. The five biggest regrets are:

  • I wish I'd dared to live a life true to myself, not what others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
  • I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I'd stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish I had let myself be happier.

Women commonly have regrets about romance/family, while men have regrets about career/education.

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Factors that increase the feeling of regret

  • Inaction causes regret. (Deciding not to pursue something.) Males, in particular, regret not pursuing a romantic relationship.
  • Poor decisions produce greater regret when you can't justify those decisions afterwards.
  • Poor decisions in domains relevant to our sense of social belonging. (Breaking up your family by having a fling.)
  • Regrets for lost opportunity, such as not being there for your children while they were growing up.
  • Decisions that move you further from the ideal person you want to be.

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Making big life decisions without regrets

  • The most important life decisions relate to family and friends. Spend time getting these decisions right, and don't let other distractions undermine these relationships.
  • Seize opportunities. You can always apologise or change course later, but you can't go back in time.
  • Avoid making decisions that are against your personal values.

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