Regret Minimization Test

Posted December 16, 2023 ‐ 2 min read

You would save yourself pain if you have the least amount of regrets.

After accumulating a life of decisions, it is important to know when to look back. I can test a decision I've made in the past for whether I have a real regret or not.

The test goes like this:

If hypothetically, I would unequivocally want to send myself a note from the future, straight to the decision time, on which only the text "don't do it!" is written and nothing else, then it is a real regret.

Anything that does not meet this criteria is a fake regret. Any decision that needs more information than what you had at that time — cannot be really regretted.

This approach to defining and testing regret seems logical and practical. It filters out scenarios where the regret is based on information or perspectives you couldn't have had at the time. It focuses on decisions where, even with the limited info you had then, a simple warning from the future would have been enough to change your mind. This method acknowledges that hindsight is clearer, but doesn't let it unfairly influence your judgment of past decisions.

You can regard this test a complementary tool to the "regret minimization framework" by Jeff Bezos, but which works only after the fact.

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