• David Strittmatter

A life without regrets - how to find out what you want from life

Live life to the fullest because you only get to live it once
Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

Dear friend,


This week, I was on vacation. I traveled back to my hometown and spent some time with my family. During the 6-hour train ride, I reflected on questions nagging me for quite some time: “Why do I love working that much?”, “When did I become ambitious?”, “What were the triggers?”, and “Is there something wrong with me?”.


Luckily, as at the end of most of my reflection sessions, I could find some reasonable answers.


Since I was in high school, I’ve dedicated a lot of time to achieving certain goals. For instance, in high school, I wanted to achieve perfect grades and spent 1.5x-2x the amount of time on school as the average student did. All the people surrounding me told me that I was really ambitious. Yet, back then, I didn’t really think of myself as ambitious. I didn’t compare myself to anyone. I greatly disliked the idea of comparing myself to others. So, I didn’t perceive myself as more ambitious than others.


When observing my younger siblings who are currently attending high school, I witness ambitious youths who are at least as smart as I’m. However, they don’t push themselves as much as I did back then. They neither have the desire to ace every exam nor are they willing to study as much as I used to have.


So, what’s different?


I exactly knew what I wanted. I wrote down clear goals and ever since, I’ve been working towards them. This clarity greatly fueled my actions and desire.


Most people I asked and observed lack this clarity. While they have a rough image of what their future should look like, it’s rather vague. And because it’s rather vague, it doesn’t provide the fuel for their actions.


That’s not bad per se. You don’t have to clearly know what you want from life to have a happy and fulfilled one. However, you won’t be able to tap what life has all to offer, and, ultimately, you might end up with some regrets. For instance, if you never ask yourself what your “ideal normal day” looks like, you won’t achieve it.


In today’s blog article, I will write about how to determine what you want from life so that you’re more motivated and can live a life without regrets.


Practical advice:

  • Imagine yourself 10 years in the future and ask yourself what does your “ideal normal” day look like

  • Next, ask yourself with whom and how much time you want to spend in 10 years

  • Lastly, ask yourself what things you (don’t) want to possess in 10 years

Your ideal normal day


Imagine yourself 10 years in the future and ask yourself what does your “ideal normal” day look like?


Thereby, “normal” means your average day - let’s say 300 out of the 365 days of the year, and “ideal” implies attainable but ambitious.


Here’s an example from someone I asked how his ideal normal day would look like:


8:30 - Waking up with a good amount of sleep

8:45 - Getting ready for the day by taking a shower

9:00 - Going to a local bakery nearby together with his girlfriend and having a good breakfast

9:30 - Commuting to work (ideally within walking distance)

10:00 - Working as a team leader in a project-oriented role

14:00 - Eating lunch together with his colleagues

14:30 - Continuing working

17:30 - Doing sports together with his friends/ colleagues (ideally outdoor team sports)

19:00 - Cooking and eating dinner with his girlfriend

21:00 - Meeting with friends (ideally in a producer studio)

22:00 - Ending day together with his girlfriend

23:30 - Going to sleep


Answering this question has significant implications. In his case, he couldn’t work in highly demanding (e.g., medical doctor) or inflexible (e.g., shift work) jobs. Further, he has to acquire management capabilities to achieve a team manager position while simultaneously working in a position promising a 37.5-hour week. That’s attainable but definitely something he has to work for.


Social circle


Next, ask yourself with whom and how much time you want to spend in 10 years. How many hours per week do you spend with your partner, your colleagues, your parents, your siblings, each of your friends (many narrow vs. few deep friendships), and other (meaningful) relationships?


This question will specify what you want from life in terms of how much time you will spend “working” vs. “socializing”, and where you will live (e.g., within close proximity to family and old friends).


Things you (don’t) want to have


Lastly, ask yourself what things you (don’t) want to possess in 10 years.


For instance, I don’t want to live in my own house but rent a convenient and large-enough apartment, drive an electric car with an easily accessible charging station, earn enough money to travel wherever I want without thinking about whether I can afford it, or acquire tools and software to create whenever and whatever I want.


Answering this and the other 2 questions will sharpen what you want from life. And once you have a concrete image, your desire to make it happen ignites. The more concrete the image and the stronger your belief that you will achieve it, the stronger your motivation and will.

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