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24,000 people in 109 countries were surveyed. 4 Universal regrets and 4 Fundamental Needs were Found

Are there universal regrets that span countries, cultures, ethnicities, and more?

Daniel Pink looked at 60 years' worth of cognitive science, neuroscience, developmental psychology, and social psychology paired with the most extensive sampling of regret done in the US and the World Regret Survey, which surveyed over 24,000 people in 109 countries.

He found the answer to this question was a resounding...


Four core universal regrets came up in the literature and surveys.

4 Core Universal Regrets

  1. Foundation regrets - small decisions that people make early in life that cascade to negative consequences later in life (not investing in retirement)

  2. Boldness Regrets - playing it safe or taking a chance? (if only I had started a business, asked that person out on a date, etc.)

  3. Moral Regrets - took the low road instead of the high road (if only I had done the right thing...)

  4. Connection regrets - relationships that have slowly come apart, usually in small ways (I should have reached out, but I didn't. I Should have spent more time with my kids...)

"When people tell you what they regret the most. They are telling you what they value the most." Daniel Pink

If you have an action (or inaction) that you still remember and regret 5-10 years from now, that is a powerful signal of a very strong value.

4 Fundamental Needs

  1. Foundation regrets tell us we value: Stability and safety

  2. Boldness regrets tell us we value: Learning, growth, risk,

  3. Moral regrets tell us we value: Goodness

  4. Connection regrets tell us we value: Love

Tomorrow, I will talk about the 3 Step Process Daniel Pink recommends using regrets as opportunities for growth and learning.

So, if you have regrets that have stuck with you over the years, this is the framework to handle them...

I'm going to leave you with this quote...

"The only regrets that matter ultimately are, "Did you build a stable foundation for yourself and your family? Did you act with some boldness to learn and grow during the vanishingly short time that you were alive? Did you do the right thing? And did you connect with people that you love? And that's it. Those are the kinds of regrets you should avoid. Everything else doesn't really matter that much." Daniel Pink

When making an important decision, ask yourself these 4 questions as a filter for your values...


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