Update March 2013: This project is no longer active, but it definitely served its purpose. I regret not. 

Want to skip the full explanation and get to the point? Well, here you go:

My 20s seemed to go by in a blur, largely because my nose was buried in my work. There were lots of experiences I didn’t have and things I didn’t learn. There’s a lot that I did do, but it seems that some of the most fundamental things, especially the things outside of work, are missing.

As of September 2010, I have 8 months until I turn 32, and a lot to do between now and then. This is about getting out of the trap of “when” and moving into the space of now.

The Regret Me Not project officially starts on September 14 and it technically ends when I turn 32 in May. I say technically, because I have a feeling I won’t want to stop. I’ve already started a little early dabbling in my Regret Me Not activities and it is everything I hoped it would be. Whether I officially end or not, May will at least involve a big party to celebrate.

Eight months to experiment, to try things, and to stop putting things off. Between now and then I’m going to squeeze in moving as many things as possible from my “never done” list to my “done” list.

If your mind just went to the gutter, get it out. This isn’t about sex or drugs (although it may be a little bit about rock n’ roll).

My Regret Me Not to do list falls into two major categories (with exciting sub-categories too!):


  • General Life Skills (like cooking)
  • Artistic/Creative Skills (like lindy hopping and singing)
  • Sporty/Fitness Skills (like running)


  • General (like sky diving and kite boarding)
  • Travel (like going somewhere where they don’t speak English)
  • Food (like actually trying mushrooms)
  • Books (reading stuff I’ve never read)
  • Movies (watching movies I’ve never seen)
  • TV (watching shows I’ve never seen)
  • Music (listening to stuff I’ve never listened to)

What Am I Missing?

I’ve started my lists for each category, but since in many cases I don’t know what I haven’t done until someone calls me out on it and embarrasses me by their screams of dismay, you can submit your suggestions to me for things I should be doing in every category.

Fill out my form!

13 thoughts on “The Short Explanation

  1. I love this project! I had a similar moment a year and a half ago when I accepted this job in Italy, packed up and moved away from the City I’d spent the last 27 years of my life living in…

    If you want to visit Italy, my guest room is all yours! Plus, you can check out the USA Girl Scouts Overseas office. Seriously. We’d love to have you.

    Good luck with your project and (as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you) have fun!

    • jessicahlawrence

      Thanks Taryn! I would love to hear about your story, which means I might just have to come visit Italy. : ) I just sent you an email.

  2. LOVE THIS!!! You have no idea how relevant this is for me. I have two teenagers and I’m desperate to make their experience better than mine was…..I feel like I learned NOTHING in high school. Not a thing (except for maybe how to have fun). I am starving to learn it all now (I read along with my kids as much as possible). I started working the second I graduated from college and didn’t stop for 20+ years until I lost my job, and then suddenly I had a new lease on life and got to contemplate all of the types of things you are talking about, and how I wanted to rebuild my life. I’m cooking, exercising, watching movies, reading books I want to read….on and on and on.

    We have to meet!!!

  3. Zhanna

    Hey, I stumbled upon your site today (a long circuitous path starting from the WSJ) and was glad to find another person looking to live without regret and make the most of life. When I was watching your videocast of this same journal entry, I could totally relate to your experience of telling someone/a group that the original of a movie was better than a remake (or some other ‘could be considered as elitist’ type remark) and then being faced with blank stares and a ‘party pooper’ reputation. Of course, my initial reaction was: look up original and add that one to my list…

    Anyway, all that is a forerunner for a potential new addition to your website. Perhaps you could maintain a list of all those rich, but perhaps obscure, films, books, skills, etc which you did experience and appreciate before turning 31 to also inspire others and give them a heads up on what they could be missing (I wouldn’t actually limit it to everything pre-31, but you get the point).

    Have a nice evening.


    Also, your form doesn’t appear to work anymore (I suppose it came when you left the girl scouts). I don’t know if you’ve found another way to collect people recommendations in an organized way…

    • jessicahlawrence

      Hi! Glad you stumbled on my blog! I love your suggestion! I think that would make total sense. I’m trying to work in more time to dedicate to my blog going forward, and that is one thing I would love to do. And thanks for the heads up on the form…will fix soon! : )

  4. Hey Jessica!

    I love your project. My all-time favorite quote that has influenced many decisions in my life is “Twenty years from now you’ll regret more what you did not do than what you did do.” Okay, this is my interpretation of the original quote but the word “regret” is much more powerful for me than “disappointment,” which is what was in the original.

    And it is May. So how does it feel to have lived without regret for the last 8 months? YIPPEE!! That’s me celebratin’. :-)

    Keep it real,

  5. Sometimes I feel that time is precious and it runs out too quickly. It might sound tragic and dramatic, but I’m saying that because it makes me feel that we have to take advantage of every moment and opportunity. Hence this project seems to be a very good idea to seize the moment.

    • jessicahlawrence

      Very true – that’s exactly why I started the Regret Me Not Project. I wanted to make sure I didn’t take being alive for granted.

  6. Jess Witkins

    Popped over from Freshly Pressed, and I just wanted to wish you well on your journey through the regret me not list. I did something similar, I started a 26 before 26 list, but it actually sky rocketed. In a good way. Another writer/blogger read my post and contacted me about starting a group for people wanting to make these changes and support one another along the way. We formed The Life List Club, it’s a group of writers and readers and we guest blog bi-weekly on achieving goals/share stories of our ups and downs. We’ve all posted our life lists as a blog page too. If you’re still looking for ideas, I highly recommend checking out this group’s list. If you’re interested, my page is http://jesswords10.wordpress.com/the-life-list/ I also have the contributors in my blogroll or you can find us on twitter at #LifeListClub. I really love what you’re setting out to do and am planning my own total revamp of how I spend my time (man your post about too many emails hit home, I just came back from vacation and I had 101 new emails, and I’d even prepped everybody I’d be gone! AH!) All the best to you Jessica! Hope you come visit, or shoot me an email if you want to know more. ;)

  7. Jessica,

    Add a language to learn – to a 4th grade level (to start)

    I took languages when I was in hgh school, and never got really far enough. I later learned German fluently in Army language school, so I offer this advice about learning another language that fits what you are talking about in trying things:

    a. Pick a language that would be ‘fun’ for you to know
    family history (grandpa was Italian etc.)
    something to read or to study *Read Les Miserables in FRENCH)
    work or life (so many people here are from China, or from Mexico, or . . . )

    b. Set a realistic goal – to speak as well as a 4th grade student / 10 years old
    realize that a 4th grade level is more than MANY ever get
    go on from there once you can do it – it is easier once you reach that point
    it will be mostly present tense, real words and phrases – less stress
    when learning any language move your mouth a LOT!
    Americans do not move their mouths much, and it gets in our way with foreing languages
    speak with a FAKE accent of that language while learning
    I found that if I used a fake German accent when first learning, my German sounded
    MUCH better – because that is the sound of that language

    c. Read in that language – written texts are already correct, so you can use your PASSIVE
    vocabulary to get further. Write down any sentence that you want to pop out with at the
    right time. It will surprise others and encourage you.
    Take any book and write the hard words in the back, ‘Page 5 das Brot (bread)’
    First read only one page,. Then read it again. Look up every word if needed.
    Then re-read the text over and over until it is like your native language
    Eventually you will read it smoothly.

    d. Don’t let the critics get you down.
    Many people will criticize – encourage yourself! It will be fun!
    Learning a language is like learning to play music, you will notice improvement by
    looking back. And you will be surprised.

    e. You cannot ‘cram’ a language – it has to go on like coats of paint
    A little at a time, over and over. And when you look back – you will smile!


    • jessicahlawrence

      Great – awesome advice! I know French (at probably a second grade level) but would love to learn Spanish or Italian.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s