45 Regret Quotes On The Things We Didn’t Do

Our latest collection of regret quotes that will help you move forward.

We hear the thought often that people are more disappointed with the things they did not do, than the things they did not do well when they reflect upon their lives.

I think nothing could be truer.

While we may not be successful at everything we try, while we may fail miserably, at least we will never have to ask ourselves the question, “What if??”

When we look back on our lives what will we remember?

Will we remember the times we stumbled, but picked ourselves back up, or will we fixate on the things that we failed out, and never tried again.

There is a great deal to be learned from failure, and there is nothing to learn from avoiding doing something completely, except that we did not have the courage to try.

Some people learned this lesson and learned it with grace.

Let me share some of what they discovered.

Below you’ll find our collection of inspirational, wise, and encouraging regret quotes, regret sayings, and regret proverbs, collected from a variety of sources over the years.

Also, check out our collection of hypocrite quotes for insights.

Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration. 

Check out our inspirational quotes category page for more inspirational life quotes.

Regret Quotes And The Things We Didn’t Do

1. Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.— Eliza Tabor

2. “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.”Henry David Thoreau

3. “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.” Jim Rohn

4. “The principles of living greatly include the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and trial with humility.” Thomas S. Monson

5. “There’s always failure. And there’s always disappointment. And there’s always loss. But the secret is learning from the loss, and realizing that none of those holes are vacuums.” Michael J. Fox

6. “Disenchantment, whether it is a minor disappointment or a major shock, is the signal that things are moving into transition in our lives.” William Throsby Bridges

7. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
―  Jackson Brown Jr., P.S. I Love You

Regret Quotes And How To Move Forward

8. “When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.”
― Paulo Coelho, Brida

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9. “It was one of those times you feel a sense of loss, even though you didn’t have something in the first place. I guess that’s what disappointment is- a sense of loss for something you never had.”
 Deb Caletti, The Nature of Jade

10. “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” 
 Henry David Thoreau, I to Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

11. “Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy – the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation.” 
― Eric Hoffer

12. “There’s an epigram tacked to my office bulletin board, pinched from a magazine — “Wanting to meet an author because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté.”
 Margaret Atwood, Negotiating with the Dead

13. “Joy is sometimes a blessing, but it is often a conquest. Our magic moment helps us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams. Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments — but all of this is transitory it leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken.”
Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

14. “You really didn’t see the sadness or the longing unless you already knew it was there. But that was the trick, wasn’t it? Everyone had their disappointment and their baggage; only, some people carried it in their inside pockets and not on their backs.” 
 Maggie Stiefvater, The Dream Thieves

15. “The strength of a love is always misjudged if we evaluate it by its immediate cause and not the stress that went before it, the dark and hollow space full of disappointment and loneliness that precedes all the great events in the heart’s history.”
 Stefan Zweig, The Burning Secret and other stories

You might also like these disappointment quotes about life and friends.

Other regret quotes and sayings

16. “Don’t waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy.” – Roy T. Bennett

17. “It’s better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.” – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

18. “Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on. I hope you never have to think about anything as much as I think about you.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

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19. If I’m sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow?” – José Saramago

20. “One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.” – Shannon L. Alder

21. “There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.” – Charles Dickens

22. “Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.” – Arthur Miller

23. “If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” – Mercedes Lackey

24. “The mistakes I’ve made are dead to me. But I can’t take back the things I never did.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

25. “You might be looking for reasons but there are no reasons.” – Nina LaCour

More regret quotes to reflect on

26. “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

27. “We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.” ― Steve Maraboli

28. “We all do things we desperately wish we could undo. Those regrets just become part of who we are, along with everything else. To spend time trying to change that, well, it’s like chasing clouds.” ― Libba Bray

29. “We don’t have to be defined by the things we did or didn’t do in our past. Some people allow themselves to be controlled by regret. Maybe it’s a regret, maybe it’s not. It’s merely something that happened. Get over it.” ― Pittacus Lore

30. “Not everything’s perfect, especially in the beginning. And its all right to have a little bit of regret every once in a while. It’s when you feel it all the time and can’t do anything about it… that’s when you get into trouble.” ― Sarah Dessen

31. “I don’t think I could love you so much if you had nothing to complain of and nothing to regret. I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and of little value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.” ― Boris Pasternak

32. “Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing in.” ― Katherine Mansfield

33. “Ah, it’s my longing for whom I might have been that distracts and torments me!” ― Fernando Pessoa

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34. “Regret is mostly caused by not having done anything.” ― Charles Bukowski

35. “The only victories which leave no regret are those which are gained over ignorance.” ― Napoleon Bonaparte

Regret Quotes To Help You Let Go Of The Past

36. “Never regret anything you have done with a sincere affection; nothing is lost that is born of the heart.” — Basil Rathbone
37. “Regret should be handled swiftly, and you shouldn’t hold onto it. People spend their entire lives regretting what they didn’t do and what they should’ve done. Hey, man, you did what you did.” — John Mellencamp
38. “The past could always be annihilated. Regret, denial, or forgetfulness could do that. But the future was inevitable.” — Oscar Wilde
39. “I have tons of regrets, but I think that’s one of the reasons that push people to create things. Out of their angst, their regret, comes the best from artists, painters and writers.” — Sylvester Stallone
40. “My dad used to say that living with regrets was like driving a car that only moved in reverse.” — Jodi Picoult
41. “I would much rather have regrets about not doing what people said, than regretting not doing what my heart led me to and wondering what life had been like if I’d just been myself.” — Brittany Renee
42. “There is no need to lament on the bygone failures, instead concentrate on things that you can change and let other things take their own course.” — Robert Gallagher
43. Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly. It reminds us that we know we can do better.” — Kathryn Schulz
44. “We cannot always change what has happened to us, but we can change how we react and how we live in the future. Living with no regrets is living successfully.” — Dr. Ellen Taricani
45. “We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.” — Lucy Maud Montgomery

Which regret quote was your favorite? Why?

The reason that we are so much more disappointed with the things we never did than the things that we did poorly, is that at least we can answer the question for ourselves, this is how this would have gone.

This is what would have happened had I tried to accomplish this, good or bad.

You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.

Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.

Which of these regret quotes resonated with you best?

Do you have any other inspirational quotes to add?

Tell us in the comment section below.

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