Start doing these things in your 20s to avoid regret in your 40s from those who've been there.

My favourite saying is “I’m here for a good time, not a long time.” And pretty much everything in my life proves that. From the choices I’ve made as an adult, to the way I live my life, you’d think I was a 20-year-old billionaire, with time and money to burn… but it’s all in the attitude.

I recently shared my pearl of wisdom in the Mamamia office, when we were asked to share the words we live by. No one said anything to my face, but I’m pretty sure I sounded like the typical middle-aged mum who tries to act young and cool. And that’s exactly what I am.

But those words have helped me live in the present – to enjoy myself, whatever I’m doing and whoever I’m with, and worry about my worries later. It comes naturally to me, and I’m glad, because it’s meant I usually get the most out of situations.

I don’t have any “shoulda, woulda, coulda” regrets. I take chances. Some have paid off, and a lot haven’t – but that’s how I’ve learned. That’s how I got wiser, and calmer, in lots of ways. If I died tomorrow, I can definitely say I tried. I had a blast doing so – and have now, at 42, no regrets.


So what else can someone in their 40s offer as advice to help someone in their 20s avoid regret later in life? Here are the best answers I’ve heard:

1. ‘When someone shows you themselves, believe them the first time.’

Oprah told me that – and she was quoting Maya Angelou. I’ve given too many people the benefit of the doubt – and it’s what kept me in a disastrous marriage for way too long. I kept hoping for better because I could see the good in him. But increasingly, he chose not to give his best to me.

So don’t ignore your first instincts about someone; chances are, they’re probably right. Pull back and find out more before you give them any more of yourself. That’s what giving someone your time is – giving them part of yourself.

2. ‘Be kind to yourself.’

On that, the voice in your head will be the one you will hear the most. Make sure it’s kind, supportive and forgiving.

As Quora user Ruchi Rashinkar said, “Learn to accept and love yourself first.” Without that, you don’t stand a chance of living the life you want or of being the person you want to be.

3. ‘The days are long but the years are short. Dive in.’

Rob from the Mamamia office said, “I wanted to do a post-grad architecture degree, but thought the years it took was too long. I thought, I don’t have time for that. But now I realise, the years go really fast.”

People say to parents all the time “the days are long but the years are short”, and that’s advice which is applicable to everyone. Take the leap, take risks, dive in, it will pay off.

4. ‘Do not spend one more minute of your life with someone who makes you feel like you are less than you are.’

As great as relationships can be, with friends, family and partners, they can also be equally tumultuous. As Redditor rubyfisch focuses puts it, “Do not spend one more minute of your life with someone who makes you feel like you are less than you are… he or she will never change for the better and you might just change for the worse.”

5. ‘Get the help you need.’

Mamamia Co-Founder Mia Freedman said, “I actually think the key [to avoiding regret later] is having therapy in your thirties. 20s is about doing, 30s is about understanding and 40s is about growing.”


If you find that you’re not growing or learning from mistakes, getting advice from a professional can help sort out what’s holding you back and address any issues that may be in the way of you going forward.

6. ‘Friends are here for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.’

As one Reddit user says, “Don’t be afraid to end some friendships. Fair weather friends are not worth your time. Stay loyal to those that truly matter and invest your time with them.”

Friendships that you thought would never end, often do. So don’t hang on to someone, or let them hang on to you, longer than they need to.


7. ‘Really understanding yourself and why you’re making your choices.’

As Tony from the Mamamia office said, “I know that self-awareness doesn’t come to a lot of people until they’re older. It didn’t for me. So what I can impart to my kids is that self-awareness, really understanding yourself and why you’re making your choices, can save yourself a lot of time in terms of making decisions that are best for you.”

That’s something that another staffer, Jane, agrees with. She says that it’s important to think about what you’re doing and the potential consequences.

“From age 18 I was very focused on travel and experiences, I don’t regret those but I thought love would come later. So I left it until I was 30 to even seriously consider it. I left a lot good men I was dating go because ‘they got too serious’. I wish I had considered it more at the time, because I took those men for granted.”

8. ‘Look after your body.’

One Reddit user told themselves, “Go to the gym you idiot! And quit smoking!”

But looking after yourself is so much more than that. This isn’t about kale and cross-fit. Your body may not be ‘a temple’, but it’s definitely a machine. And you’re going to need it for a while.

So service it. Fuel it. Maintain it. Not just with diet and exercise, but with self-care. Sleep. Enjoy some silence when you need it. Check out that weird skin thing. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

9. ‘Learn to say no with confidence.’

Do what’s best for you. Because you know what? That’s exactly what everyone else is doing. Being a people pleaser is exhausting – so reclaim your time.

As Ruchi on Reddit said, “learn to say no with confidence”.

So, good luck with it all. I hope I’ve helped. Because, as the dude at the end of Jerry McGuire said, “I wish you my kind of happiness.”

What’s the one piece of advice you live by? Tell us in the comments section below. 

H/T Thrive Global.