You'll Only Regret the Decisions You Don't Make

On spontaneity and the beauty of living for the moment.

I met with a friend in Barcelona two weeks ago, days before the entire nation was placed under strict quarantine due to coronavirus. I say ‘friend’. I met the guy the night before at a language exchange event. He was a fan of Mind Cafe, and since we had so much in common, it only made sense that we should meet again to speak some more.

As I recalled the many crazy stories I’ve collected during the past six months over dinner, this friend kept repeating the same statements back to me - things like ‘You’re so spontaneous!’ or ‘Wow, I can’t believe that happened,' or ‘I could never do that.

I understood his reactions. It’s been as whirlwind six-months since my fiancé passed away, and most of my experiences have been pretty unbelievable. Last-minute trips to foreign countries, solo pub crawls with strangers in the streets of Prague and agreeing to live in Barcelona for two months with a friend that I’ve met just once before, to name but a few.

But recounting these events forced me to ask myself a question. When did I become so spontaneous? When did things change?

See, I was never really a spur-of-the-moment kind of guy growing up. In fact, I was incredibly anxious. Everything had to have a plan and a rigid structure to follow. I couldn’t even leave the house without taking four bottles of water for fear that I’d run out of liquids and die from dehydration.

Now, the opposite is true. I don’t take four bottles of water with me for a start. But I also wind up in foreign countries with no insurance or way to get home on almost a monthly basis. I do things that most people think are crazy, like embarking on a pub crawl by myself. My default answer is yes, where before it was always no.

Why do I do this? Well, the answer is simple. I stopped asking that question. Instead, I started asking myself why I shouldn’t do these things. Or rather, why wouldn’t I?

Who’s stopping me from living in Barcelona? Who says I can’t backpack around Europe by myself? Who says I can’t set up a business or launch a magazine or develop my own brand of coffee?

The only person that’s stopping me is myself. And the only person stopping you is yourself.

Sure, money and other commitments might be an obstacle, but those obstacles aren’t insurmountable. The money will come and go. Jobs, too. But time? Well, time isn’t something we can get back quite so easily, so we’d better make the most of it.

My advice? Don’t get too hung up on the why. Most things work themselves out in the end anyway. And if not, so what? You’ll adapt, you’ll grow, and most importantly, you’ll learn.

As Randy Pausch put it in The Last Lecture,

“Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”

The short version: Stop asking why and start asking why not. Trust that things will work out in your favour whatever happens.