The regret minimization framework is a mental model which helps in making decisions in the real world scenario. The framework helps us understand the world around us and make decisions on things that matter to us the most.

Just imagine you that the greatest idea and don’t know to go for it or not. The same happened with Jeff Bezos a couple of decades earlier with the idea of Amazon. This is when he used the regret minimization framework to come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Before starting with his online book store venture, Bezos had a great job as vice-president of D. E. Shaw & Co., a Wall Street firm. He had a great career ahead of him. But what made him leave this job and trust in the idea of selling books online?

regret minimization framework

It was the regret of not doing it.

What is Regret?

Let’s first understand what is regret and why the framework counts on your personal instinct to make a decision.

a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over an occurrence or something that one has done or failed to do -Google

Just imagine the greatest movement of your life that happened because of your one decision. Like having the greatest vacation with friends. But you were not willing to go to this vacation but your friends forced you into it. 

And in the end, you caved in and decided to go anyways. Inside, you knew you have to go or you would miss out on a lot of things.  That vacation has some of the greatest memories of yours. Just imagine not going on that vacation. The feeling that you might have got is Regret.

Jeff had the same feeling while in the early 90s when he saw the growth of the internet. He didn’t want to miss out on the train. Jeff in an interview said.

“The wake-up call was finding this startling statistic that web usage in the spring of 1994 was growing at 2,300 percent a year. You know, things just don’t grow that fast. It’s highly unusual, and that started me about thinking, “What kind of business plan might make sense in the context of that growth?” 

The regret minimization framework is a mental model. A mental model is an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world. It is a way of thinking about the world, how we respond to the daily challenges that come our way.

There are many mental models out there and no one fits all. The one Jeff used to make his decision to start with his online bookselling venture(amazon) was using the Regret minimization framework.

Jeff Bezos Regret minimization Framework

The model that jeff used to make the decision was later named as Regret minimization framework. The framework is simple but has some really great impact on the one using it.

regret minimization framework

The frame is quite simple it starts with a simple question.

In ‘X’ Years will I regret doing this?

If the answer is Yes Then do it.

If the answer is No, Then drop it.

The idea is to imagine yourself in the future and think about what would you feel about the decision. Jeff projected himself to 80 years of age and imagined what would he be thinking then. In jeff’s own words.

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.

If you have watched the movie 3 idiots Rancho uses the same technique to convince Farhan to go and talk to his father. Imagine in your death bed and thinking that day you had the opportunity if you showed a little courage, life would have been different today.

Why Regret minimization framework work?

Because it’s a Choice. In the end, we are ultimately responsible for our own actions. When we think in that way, that we might have no one to blame, but ourselves. We are ought to make a decision that we want the most.

Even if it doesn’t turn out in your favor you will not regret making these decisions. Because it’s you who choose the path and no matter the result you will be happy.

Just imagine, the richest man on earth decided his entire future just using this mental model. Little things are at the end responsible for the biggest things in life.


Quitting on your job or following that passion of yours is just one framework away. The regret minimization framework.

We sometimes fear using the framework because we are more worried about what we don’t want to hear. We all know that quitting that tiring, boring job is the best thing to do. But what if things don’t work out, what if you lose everything. 

But what if you stayed and hatted your job for your entire life. Just imagine.

Though I know the model is not for everyone. But the regret minimization framework will definitely help you to sort out some things and help you to give a more clear direction of what you want. 

The framework will act like a guiding light to the right direction. 

But many times things are not that simple, and not all framework works. I believe in these times it’s best to believe in your own gut feeling to do the right thing.

The regret minimisation framework has helped Bezos to build the biggest online store in the world. But Bezos was just one decision away from not perceiving his dreams. 

That’s with the article on regret minimization framework. Share the article with people you think might love the concept. And thanks for stopping by and reading the article, I hope you found what you were looking for. 


Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths (2016): Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions


Hey, I am Chetan Poojari the founder of Geeksla. I work as a Product Manager and also an Online Content Creator. A travel and tech junkie who writes articles to simplify complex things.

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