“People always say life is too short for regrets.
But the truth is, it’s too long.”
―Sarah Addison Allen
One of the most difficult things to deal with in life is regret. Sometimes something will happen, and you will respond in the wrong way, and for a while thereafter you will wish you had done it differently. But eventually, you accept the experience as a lesson learned and you move on with your life.
This is hardly the worst kind of regret. What could be worse?
The chances you didn’t take. The relationships you were afraid to nurture. The decisions you waited too long to make. The things you didn’t even try when you had the chance. Those important words you left unspoken and deeds you left undone.
The good news is, it’s not too late. You are here breathing, which means you still have a chance to do what you might have done, and be what you might have been. Right now you have an opportunity to write yourself a future free of regret.
So take this opportunity and…
1. Take the first step.
The greatest miracle of your success in life will not be that you finished, it will be that you had the courage to begin.
The feeling you get from taking the first step is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around thinking about it. Get up and get moving. Take the first step today – just one small step forward on that goal you’ve been meaning to work on.
Even if you don’t feel 100% prepared right now, your worst try will always be 100% more effective than the person who never did. It is so easy to get caught up in planning and perfecting that before you know it, you have made taking the first step a bigger deal than it is. Sometimes you just have to go ahead and take things as they come, one step at a time.
So give up the excuses and begin now. Tomorrow you will be happy you started today.
2. Get comfortable with feeling of uncomfortable.
…and then take another step.
You were not meant to sit at the edge of your comfort zone. Not trying for fear of falling. Not loving for fear of losing love. Not speaking your truth for fear of what others will think. Not looking at yourself in the mirror for fear of what you might see.
Try, and then try again with all your might. Your courage will unfold as your resolve takes hold. And with each effort you make you will earn a little more confidence which you can use to acquire what no one else can give you: Your self-respect, and the life you were meant to live. (Read Daring Greatly.)
3. Work on being the type of person you want to be around.
Focus enough energy inward. Before befriending others, you have to be your own friend. Before making others happy, you have to make yourself happy. It’s not called selfishness; it’s called personal development.
Even when you’re with others, you’re still with yourself. When you wake up in the morning, you’re with yourself. Laying in bed at night you’re with yourself. Walking down the street at noon you’re with yourself. What kind of person do you want to walk down the street with? What kind of person do you want to wake up in the morning with? What kind of person do you want to see at the end of the day before you fall asleep? It’s your responsibility to be the person you want to be with.
It’s important to nurture your relationships, and it’s important to start with YOU.
4. Make your own happiness a priority.
For the average person happiness is a choice, yet so many of us are unhappy all the time. There are many reasons, but it all boils down to one simple principle: We often choose something else over happiness. Because it often takes less effort to be unhappy. For example, instead of seeking happiness we lazily follow the path of least resistance, we refuse to accept change, we aimlessly try to control the uncontrollable, and so on and so forth. Averting these poor choices and the negative attitudes that accompany them is the first step.
The second step is injecting meaning into your day-to-day life. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” To find true happiness in life you have to follow your heart and intuition. You have to be who you are, and design a lifestyle and career that fulfills you – no matter what that entails or what people say about it. And it is never too late to do so.
Sure you have responsibilities. And no, you won’t be able to do what you want to do every waking minute of your life. But you almost always have a choice to do more of what you really want to do – to work on something that matters to you – something that moves you and gives your life meaning.
Bottom line: Life isn’t about pleasing everyone. Begin today by taking full responsibility for your own happiness. (Read 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
If I were to write a book entitled, “How to Be Amazing at Anything”, it would only contain a single page with one word on it: “Practice!” Because that’s all it takes to be amazing.
Whether it means learning to write by practicing writing or learning to live by practicing living, the principles are identical. In each instance, it is the relentless routine of a precise set of actions, physical and intellectual, focused on a desired result. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, faith, or desire.
Practice is a means of inventing an amazing outcome in all walks of life.
6. Eliminate the negative to make room for more positive.
It’s not what you look at in life that matters; it’s what you choose to see. The biggest wall you must climb is the one you have built in your mind. If you don’t control your attitude, then it will control you.
Negative feelings are like weeds; if you don’t fully extract their roots, they will keep coming back. So take control of your attitude. Look at what’s right. Believe in yourself. Ignore those who try to discourage you. Avoid negative people, places, things, and habits. Don’t give up, and don’t give in to consuming the garbage these negative sources are trying to feed you.
Sure, there will always be problems and challenges, but there are always people willing to transform those problems and challenges into great opportunities. Those who have the courage, commitment and discipline to do so, create a better life for everyone. Be one of these people. Focus on positive solutions and work your way eagerly toward a brighter future.
7. Spend lots of quality time with the people you love.
Spending quality time smiling with family and friends, enjoying the antics of a pet, seeing your child or niece or nephew smile, experiencing intimate and heart-felt moments with your significant other – these times are priceless.
So don’t get so caught up in the rat race, to the point where you are too stressed and exhausted to enjoy your closest relationships. As we get older, fun with friends and family is often underrated. With all of our responsibilities, spending time “playing” with the people closest to us seems like an indulgence. It shouldn’t be. It should be a requirement.
Remember, we don’t live forever. You must make an effort to appreciate what you have, who loves you and who cares for you, because you’ll never know how much they mean to you until the day they are no longer beside you. Spend lots of quality time with the people you love. Someday you will either regret not doing so, or you will say, “I’m glad I did.”
8. Appreciate the life you have now.
Pause for a moment. Breathe in slowly and deeply. Exhale. Feel the miracle of your breath. And say, “Thank you.” Be as grateful as possible, for small things, not just for big things – for the simple act of breathing, the time together, the conversations, etc.
You probably woke up with a few aches and pains this morning, but you woke up. You’ve seen better days, but you’ve also seen worse. You might not have everything you want right now, but you have everything you need to move forward.
Every moment counts. Every second matters. Whatever is given is a gift. Right now life isn’t perfect, but it sure is good. Acknowledging this is the foundation for all the happiness and abundance you seek. (Read Buddha’s Brain.)
9. Let go of what’s behind you as you move ahead.
Sometimes things won’t work out like you plan. Life has other things in mind. You need to let these things go. Learn what you can and move along. You can’t have a great day today if you’re still thinking and worrying about yesterday. Whatever could have been or should have been, doesn’t matter. This moment is here and now for you to live.
It’s okay to not have all the answers yet. In fact, you’ll never have ALL the answers. Sometimes being strong and moving on are the only choices you have. There are some things in life that you may never completely get over. The best you may be able to do is get through them slowly, and that’s perfectly okay.
Just continue the journey, focus on the present, do your best, and trust the process. The struggle forward is worth the effort. There’s still a lot of beauty left to be seen on the road ahead.
Your future depends on what you do right now.
Challenge yourself to be who you know you are capable of being. Challenge yourself to follow through – to live what you preach, to walk your talk. Don’t worry about how slowly you feel you’re heading towards your goals, or how many roadblocks you find, or how many detours you’re forced to take. As long as you keep doing your thing, you’re still cruising far ahead of everyone who’s too scared to even try.
What would you add to the list?
What’s something you wish you had done sooner?
Please leave a comment below and share your insights with the community.
Photo by: Michael Phillips