The Regret Minimization Framework and how to apply it to your life

“The framework I found, which made the decision incredibly easy, was what I called — which only a nerd would call — a “regret minimization framework.” So 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.” 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, Amazon

Where the regret minimization framework came from

In 2017, while backpacking through Southeast Asia and wondering what I wanted to do next in my career, I came across a book called “The Everything Store”.

The book details Jeff Bezos’ story and how Amazon became what it is today. And there was a line said by Jeff that completely changed my life.

Regret minimization framework.

In a nutshell, he explains that he would regret this decision, or any decision, in 80 years if he had not taken it.

For most of us, we can’t imagine what 80 years feels like–let alone 10. But imagine that for a second.

Close your eyes for one minute, and ask yourself, “What things do I regret not having tried, and would I be willing to try them today?”

How I applied the regret minimization framework

For myself, there were so many things I wanted to try but just never got around to do. Some reasons were timing, work schedule, and sadly, pure laziness on my behalf.

But that was just it.

When I realized it was up to me and only me, and that if I didn’t take any action to live up to my goals and dreams, nothing would change. No action = no change = regret.

So in 2017, with both my wife and I, we decided to take a huge risk and set off to go backpacking.

We had some savings, but backpacking meant taking time off work, making no income and not building up the resume.

But when we thought about the flip side, “What if in 80 years we look back and hadn’t backpacked…Would we regret it?”

And so off we went.

What its been like since 2017 and using the framework

It’s now 2019, a near two years since we trekked through Vietnam, visited the Angkor Wat temples, almost got run down in Indonesia (that’s a story for another time ?), and relaxed by the most beautiful Asian beaches.

Most of us tell ourselves, “Well, I can’t just leave my job” or “I don’t know, I’m unsure”.

Trust me, we said the same.

But it always goes back to Jeff’s regret minimization framework. In 80 years, will you regret this?

This line is the backbone to every decision I make now because without it, every decision is an indecisive one. I’ll constantly worry, regret, fret; but by asking myself if I would regret it in 80 years, the decision is much more clear.

So what are the things you want to try?

So I ask you, what are some of the things you’ve always wanted to do but just haven’t yet? Want to learn to code, try a side hustle, start a blog, go try your hand at mixed martial arts (ok, ok…maybe not this)?

Because every day that passes is another day that slips by, another day filled with regret.

So jump out there, have fun and make the best decisions for yourself.