Minimizing regret is a noble, multi-stage game. First, you must identify potential regrets before making the decisions that’ll lock them in. Next, you must figure out how to avoid them, or if you can’t, estimate how much you’ll regret taking certain paths over others.
Finally, to prevent regret from leading to ruin, aka late-stage bitterness in life, you must do your best to feel out the disappointments that would never stop bleeding, and if you find one, nix it at any and all cost. Otherwise, it’ll become a slow-drip poison seeping in until the end – and if you want to look back at life feeling proud and content, you absolutely can’t have any of those.
This is, of course, an impossible game to win, let alone with a perfect score. Much tallying and estimating and going back in forth will happen in your head, and yet sometimes, you’ll have to flip a coin or go with your gut regardless. Some shots you can only take in the moment, and your test scores might need a while to arrive.
Still, “Which regrets would hurt forever?” is a helpful question, if only for the few times in life when the answer will be obvious. Those answers will inevitably lead to hard choices, but at least your direction will be clear.
No one gets through life without scars and scratches, but if we can prevent a terminal diagnosis before it happens, we must accept our grave responsibility: Swallowing the bitter pill may spoil our appetite for now, but it’ll set our stomach straight in time for dessert.