The Regret Minimisation Framework by Jeff Bezos

When I am working with clients, one of the areas that often comes up is regret. Before I explain the top five regrets and the regret minimisation framework, let’s discuss the meaning of regret.


What is Regret?

Here are a few definitions of regret –

  • “a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over an occurrence or something that one has done or failed to do” ~ Google
  • “a feeling of sadness about something sad or wrong or about a mistake that you have made, and a wish that it could have been different and better” ~ Cambridge Dictionary
  • “Feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do)” ~ Oxford Dictionary 
  • “to feel sorrow or remorse for (an act, fault, disappointment, etc.)” ~

Now we are on the same page about regrets and what they are, what are some of the top regrets?


The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

Bronnie Ware spent many years tending to the needs of the dying as she worked in palliative care. She wrote the book titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. The top five regrets from the book were –

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Do you have other regrets you would add to this list? If so, share them below in the comments.


The Regret Minimisation Framework by Jeff Bezos

I came across the regret minimisation framework by Jeff Bezos in the book Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. According to Christian and Griffiths, Bezos used the framework to make his decision from full-time employment to creating Amazon. The book quotes Bezos as saying –

“The framework I found, which made the decision incredibly easy, was what I called — which only a nerd would call — a “regret minimization framework.” So I wanted to project myself forward to age 80 and say, “Okay, now I’m looking back on my life. I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have.”


I knew that when I was 80 I was not going to regret having tried this. I was not going to regret trying to participate in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a really big deal. I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not ever having tried. I knew that that would haunt me every day, and so, when I thought about it that way it was an incredibly easy decision. (p.42).

Visually this would look like –

Before I learnt about the regret minimisation framework by Bezos, I used a similar approach. I came across this approach in my coach training. It is –

If you were viewing your life as an 80-year old – what would you answer in relation to the following questions?

  1. I spent too much time worrying about…
  2. I wish I spent more time…
  3. If I could live my life again, I would…


Remember It’s a Choice…

Ultimately our life comes down to the choices we make every moment of each day. Life is happening now and we all have access to the 3 C’s of life in any given moment. The question is what do you do with the choices you make each day to take a chance and make changes in your life?

As Oprah has been quoted as saying –

“I believe that every single event in life that happens is an opportunity to choose love over fear.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

Over to You…

Now we have discussed the meaning of regret, regret minimisation framework and the top five regrets of the dying, what action are you ready to take in your life? Remember to make sure the actions are good for you, good for your relationships, good for the community and good for the planet 🙂


If you have any comments or questions, please let me know by contacting us or writing in the comments section below 🙂


If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards your freedom and opening your heart, why not join our Toolkit?


References –

Christian, B., & Griffiths, T. (2016). Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions. London, United Kingdom: Harper Collins.

Ware, B. (2011). The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Sydney, Australia: Hay House.

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