We ended our March column, RED & BLACK … Don't Regret Your Regrets?, with me telling Red, "I do not 'do' regrets," but our actual conversation continued as she wanted to know how that is even possible to do. Knowing that she loves lists, I decided to put one together for her.

As a bit of backstory, having loved ones die, especially untimely deaths, can have a powerful impact. That is what happened to me growing up. It made me realize that the future is not a guarantee, but merely an incentive. And that, in turn, had a direct influence on my priorities. And, how I approach life … with no regrets.


  1. If You Love Them, Let Them Know
    This is probably the most obvious, but if "postponed" can become an extremely painful regret. Since I learned this at such an early age, I have been doing it almost my entire life – and can tell you that it quickly becomes a habit. Not sure how to start? Make a list of the people you love, and either through words or actions (or both), let them know. It can be a simple call or visit (virtual counts), or an unexpected email or note. Or, a long letter. FYI, this also works for people you respect, admire, or appreciate.
  2. Maybe You Do Not Need To Work Less
    As a die-hard workaholic and someone who proclaims, "I have no life," you might think this falls under "Do as I say, not as I do." Yet, if you were to track my time, you would see I always carve out time for exercise and try my best to be there when my sister and nieces need me. Pre-COVID, I always saved Saturday evenings for dinner with dear friends. Work/life balance means finding time for the things that are most important or bring us the greatest pleasure, which is different from saying "I need to work less."
  3. Be Brave
    This is semantics. If I said, "Take risks," I would get push-back as most people are risk-averse. For me, I look at risk-reward; does the upside potential outweigh the downside risk? Over the years, I have done things that did not work out as planned. Do I wish I had not done them? No, I look at what positive things came out of the experience (many mistakes can be fixed) ... even if only lessons learned. Research shows that people's biggest regrets tend to involve things they did not do when they had the opportunity, not the things they did.
  4. Worrying Wastes Time (And Cause Wrinkles)
    Time is a precious commodity as you can make more money, but you cannot make more time. So, why waste any of it worrying about things that are beyond our control? The next time something has you worrying, decide what you can do to change the outcome. If the answer is "nothing," then think about what you need to do to prepare for the worst-case outcome. Then, shift your mindset and focus on the best-case scenario. (I know Red often thinks I am an "eternal optimist" and sometimes has a hard time reconciling that to me being pragmatic.)
  5. Emotions Are Not Created Equal
    Yes, Red is the warm and fuzzy emotional one, while I am the pragmatic one. But, sometimes, you have to learn to be less emotional. For example, everyone has been emotionally hurt at some point, yet I know of people who stay stuck in bitterness and never get past the pain. If you learn to forgive, you can replace the time spent being resentful with more positive things. Maybe even little acts of kindness (a smile, a compliment, a small gesture). No one ever lay on their deathbed and said, "I wish I had been meaner and more spiteful."
There is no point in regretting what you wish you had done differently, but nothing stops you from coming to terms with your regrets and moving forward with a clean slate.

People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".


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I know that everyone laughs at our “Assets and Liabilities” story and how I freaked out at the mere mention of personal finance, saying you were the MBA and I was the theater major. So, when you first said “financial statements,” I was intimidated. But when you said we’d start with “assets and liabilities,” I completely lost it. I calmed down when you simplified it to “what you own” vs. “what you owe” and knew I could do that, just not assets and liabilities. How was I supposed to know they were the same thing?!

Later on, I realized that it was the terminology, not the concepts, that was causing the problem. That I was creating mental roadblocks and becoming my own worst enemy. I’ll admit that understanding what previously had been intimidating words and phrases did boost my self-confidence. Although what makes it even funnier is that I had been a straight-A student and prided myself on my vocabulary.


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Your vocabulary is probably larger than mine, and you do like to use, and sometimes overuse, “50-cent words." (And, I was shocked to learn that you have never played Scrabble.) The words we use reflect our background, interests, and even what we like to read – you have always enjoyed historical and biographical books, whereas I gravitate toward business and car magazines, which may explain why I am more comfortable with terminology and technical information that you. Not to mention, when I first started working in the oil and gas industry and with legal contracts and agreements, I had to learn what felt like a foreign language.

Regardless, you are never too young or too old to increase your vocabulary. And, it is about more than just new words as it also develops your communication skills because it lets you express yourself more clearly and concisely (well, maybe not you), and improves your reading and listening comprehension. And, it even helps your critical thinking and problem-solving skills as it expands your ability to process information.

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • Have you ever felt like Red – frustrated and overwhelmed by terminology (vs. concepts)? If so, what was the situation, and how did you handle it?
  • What do you do if someone uses a word or term you do not understand? What are the advantages and disadvantages of (politely) asking them the meaning?
  • Do you think a large vocabulary is a sign of intelligence or education/experience? Explain your answer.
  • Why is it important to become familiar with terminology and vocabulary used in your area of interest? What is the best way to acquire that knowledge?

It’s been a year since my daughter went through the college selection process. Now, looking at the checklist below, I recognize how much each step helped her make the best choice for herself. (Ok, initially, I didn’t agree with her first choice, but that was because I was including my aspirations and wishes into the equation). The process also taught her how to evaluate and make other college-related decisions, something I watched her do again this year, and I know that she’ll continue to apply to other life decisions.

So, the college applications, including financial aid, are done. And even though my daughter understood what it would entail, until you're actually in the midst of it, you don't appreciate it's a lot of hard work. And stress.

Now the difficult part … waiting. Wondering which of the schools will accept you. Hoping that you'll have options, including at least one on your "wish list". Well, before you know it, you'll hear back and will be faced with having to make a decision. One that may feel like the biggest decision of your life, so hopefully, these five steps will help …

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People have told us they're using our sisterly banter to start conversations with others (family, friends, and even in classrooms), so Black created "Conversation Starters".


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It never ceases to amaze me how something awful can be both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. It may be a war or natural disaster, or a worldwide pandemic, leaving you feeling so helpless, yet at the same time so inspired. Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty, you can’t help but be moved by the extraordinary stories, not only about “everyday” people’s acts of heroics but also their almost super-human strength, determination, and perseverance.

I know this may sound crazy, but sometimes it takes the worst situations to remind us of the best of humanity. I experienced it first-hand during Hurricane Harvey, although I also know the trauma has a lasting effect. So, when it happens to others, I wish I could feel a bit less hopeless and a whole lot more helpful.


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Some people “look away” because a dire situation feels too overwhelming and hopeless, but it is hope that keeps people invested (emotionally and financially). Hope in a better day. A better future. Hope is different from hype because the possibility is real, although the odds may not be good. And there are countless examples of when at the darkest hours, you see the most courage and strength.

You often cannot control a situation, but you can always control how you react to it. And when terrible things happen, people’s true colors show. We see the goodness of humanity, and we are inspired and want to help. Some people think in terms of “grand gestures”, but it can be as simple as making a small donation, sharing ways to help, or heartfelt prayers.

THE CONVERSATION STARTERS

  • Why do you think we often feel overwhelmed and helpless when something awful happens?
  • Can you think of a time when things seemed hopeless but ultimately turned out better than expected? (It can be in history or your personal life.)
  • Name one thing you can do to contribute to being part of the “best of humanity”. Have you done it? If so, how did you feel? If not, why not?