“I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, ‘Okay, now I’m looking back on my life. I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have,'” explains Bezos. “I knew that when I was 80 I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret trying to participate in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal. I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried. I knew that that would haunt me every day, and so, when I thought about it that way it was an incredibly easy decision.” – Jeff Bezos
In this video, you’ll see Jeff Bezos just five years into his journey to build Amazon. (But, CBS claimed it was a copyright violation, so it might not be there.)
In fact, what he said was he made the decision to leave his job and pursue entrepreneurship by using a “regret minimization framework.”
Back in November when we watched this interview, we debated our plans for the future. We had recently funded our emergency fund with one year’s worth of expenses for the first time ever in our lives and we were trying to decide how to invest money for the journey to financial independence/early retirement.
Beyond the spirited debates about investing for FIRE, we also debated how we would spend our time.
Do we keep our life in Lancaster as-is until we’re financially independent or do we take a mini-retirement and start traveling while we’re young-ish and healthy?
The debate raged on.
Not longer after we watched this interview, we traveled west to see family at Thanksgiving and a theme emerged: regret.
Garrett’s parents who retired traditionally in their 60s shared how they regret being too committed to jobs, having worked too many hours especially without any kind of ownership stake in their respective companies.
But my frugal grandma (who is in her 80s) decided to retire late from her career as a nurse turned psychologist and she had a different perspective — she said she retired too early.
Regret popped up again shortly after the new year began when we met some new people. (Being in business means meeting new people all of the time.)
Having the chance to meet new people means we hear new stories of success and failure all the time. Two notable case studies of success and failure occurred in the same week when we met two Baby Boomers…
Boomer #1 started three businesses and failed in two, resulting in bankruptcy and the need to restart life in his 50s.
Boomer #2 had a number of employers throughout his traditional career. During the Great Recession, he was laid off from his non-profit job and found himself confronting ageism when he tried to get a new job.
Boomer #1 started a new business and has become a big success, again!
Boomer #2 started a new business when he was unable to find a job.
Boomer #1 regretted the lifestyle inflation he engaged in during the 1990s when he made lots of money in his second business, so he’s committed to being debt free now that he has another successful business.
Boomer #2 shared that he’s struggling financially, but he’s passionate about his new business.
No matter what happens in the future, we don’t want to be in the same position as ANY of those we’ve met who have regrets.
We don’t want to be telling younger people what we wished we could have done.
We don’t want to be telling younger people what we wished we hadn’t done. (I think with this blog we’ve done enough of that, expressing dissatisfaction for the debt we carried and how we mishandled our personal finances.)
Here’s what we’re going to do instead as part of our own Regret Minimization Framework:
1. We’re going to seize every opportunity.
If there’s a new opportunity that aligns with our personal, professional, and financial goals, we’re going after it.
2. We’re going to travel.
We’re leaving Lancaster eventually. Our timeline is still to be determined, but we’re thinking soon. Definitely before we can say we’re “financially independent.”
What it took for me to get to High Dune 🤣 Didn’t filter this photo. It’s sand, not sky. Garrett managed to take a photo that makes it feel like that movie Interstellar for some reason. 🧐 . . . #nofilter #hiking #hikingadventures #hikingaddict #hikingcolorado #greatsanddunesnationalpark #sanddunes #sanddunesnationalpark #nationalpark #colorado #alamosa
(More time in Colorado, please!)
3. We’re growing our business.
What we do in our marketing business is necessary for a whole bunch of reasons (and it’s also a whole lot of fun). We owe it to small businesses to keep doing our work so that they don’t get screwed by crap businesses that take advantage of them. So, we need to figure out how to do this on the road.
Unlike the rest of our personal finance journey, this isn’t necessarily linear. We aren’t going to wait to hit our financial independence/early retirement passive income goal before we start traveling. Instead, we’re just going to make progress on all fronts at the same time, traveling and growing along the way.
Why take the risk?!
We’re only guaranteed today. In fact, I’ll consider it a privilege if I live long enough to see that this post goes live because I started drafting it in December, I edited it in February, and finally scheduled it to live in July. 🙂
We’re only guaranteed today, so we’re going to make it our goal to make the most of each and every single day.
When I die, I want the only thought to be, “That was epic!”
And when I return to earth for my next life, I hope to do it all over again.