I don’t regret the things I’ve done.
I regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.
In the end, more than anything else, we regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were too afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.
Think about it…
The big opportunity you procrastinated on. That friend you never called. Those important words you left unspoken.
You know what I’m talking about.
Every one of us has experienced feelings of regret. But it’s not too late to set things straight. We’re still here breathing. Today we have an opportunity to change tomorrow. Right now we can choose to erase regret from our later years.
It’s time to make the best of each and every day. Here are some ideas to get you started – ten things you can start doing now that you won’t regret 10 years down the road:
- Explore what YOU love, and own it. – If you spend your life trying to define yourself by what someone else loves, you’re going to be miserable. Try things – try everything. Explore. See what makes you hear music inside and what makes your heart swell, and then go do it. Find out everything you can about it. Find other people who love it too. If you waste time pretending to like something just because other people you think are “cool” like it, you’re going to end up with the wrong people and circumstances in your life. Love what you love and be yourself, and you will end up with a lifestyle and relationships that make you truly happy.
- Live YOUR idea of your life, every day. – As you’re working on point #1, you will inevitably meet people who want to steer you in a different direction – their direction. Just remember, what’s right for them may be wrong for you, and vice versa. The truth is that the world isn’t really as it is, but as we see it. And we all see it differently. If you end up living a boring, miserable life because you completely ignored yourself and instead listened to a parent, a peer, or some gal on TV telling you how to live your life, then you have no one but yourself to blame. Honestly, the smartest and most courageous act is simply to think for yourself and listen to you own intuition. It’s better to die your way, than live someone else’s idea of your life. (Read Choose Yourself!)
- Wake up every morning and get the RIGHT things done. – The world does not owe you a living. You owe the world a life. So stop daydreaming and start DOING. Develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Take full responsibility for your life – take control. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now; the somebody the world needs is YOU. Focus on being productive, not being busy. Don’t just get things done; get the right things done (and this includes things in your personal life too).
- Put down your smartphone and be more present. – Is there anything worse than getting somewhere and not realizing how you got there? Even worse is only realizing how great something is after it’s gone. Living in the present is a basic notion, but as with most simple things, we often find a way to complicate it. But there’s nothing complicated about learning to appreciate and notice life as it’s happening. There’s nothing complicated about being present. You won’t remember the cool Instagram photo you saw on your feed anyway. You will, however, want to remember the conversations you had and the stories you lived through. So put down the darn phone.
- Practice relentless kindness. – Kindness is always the best response to any situation. When you grow older and you look back on your life, you will inevitably forget a lot of the stuff that seemed so important when you were young. You probably won’t remember what your high school or college GPA was. You will look at your old classmates on Facebook (or some other online social network) and wonder why you ever had a crush on that girl/guy. And you will have the toughest time remembering why you let certain people from your past get the best of you. But you will never forget the people who were genuinely kind – those who helped when you were hurt, and who loved you even when you felt unlovable. Be that person to others as often as possible. (And, as you know, what goes around comes around.)
- Love yourself, too. – More likely than not, the first person who caught your eye wasn’t “The One.” And the second, third or fourth probably wasn’t either. You know why? It’s because YOU are the one. Love isn’t something out there somewhere that someone else can give to you. It’s already inside you. It’s that sacred part of each of us that makes us human. And some of the best moments in life are when you truly connect with someone else and share the love you already have inside with them. But don’t ever forget to love yourself, first. When you start by loving and respecting yourself, it makes giving that love to other people infinitely better. You’re going to meet so many amazing people in your life, and I hope you do fall in love with someone else. Just remember to fall in love with your own life too, because no one else can do that for you.
- Work a little less and spend a little more time smiling with people you love. – You’ve heard the saying, “The best things in life are free.” Well spending quality time with family and friends, enjoying the antics of a pet, seeing your son smile, experiencing intimate and heart-felt moments with your significant other – these times are precious and priceless. Don’t get so caught up in the rat race, working 60+ hours a week, to the point where you are too stressed and exhausted to enjoy your closest relationships. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to live on less, and thus work fewer hours and enjoy more of what truly matters. (Read The Joy of Less.)
- Say what you need to say. – Speak up. Don’t hide your thoughts and feelings, especially when you can make a difference. Be brave. Say what needs to be said. Many people suppress their feelings in order to keep peace with others, or to shield themselves from potential rejection. As a result, they settle for a mediocre existence and never become who they are capable of becoming. Even worse, many of these people develop illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carry as a result. Don’t be one of them. Hearts are often broken by words left unspoken, and this includes your own heart.
- Leave toxic relationships behind. – You deserve respect. You deserve it from your family, your friends, your coworkers – from everyone in your life. The best way to receive respect from others is to begin by respecting yourself. Speak clearly and keep your head up. Stand up for what you believe. Make choices that you feel good about. And if someone in your life is being disrespectful‚ call them on it. If things don’t change, you need to limit the amount of time and influence they have in your life. We need people in our lives who challenge us and disagree with us, so we can see things from new perspectives. We don’t need to be constantly torn down by toxic people who don’t respect us though. It can be difficult to leave a long-term relationship, even when our inner-wisdom tells us it’s time to let go. But make no mistake, all failed relationships hurt, but letting go of a toxic relationship is a gain, not a loss.
- Let go of those who are already gone. – You’re going to mingle with a lot of people in your lifetime. You’re going to have first kisses you feel all the way down to your toes and think “Oh my gosh, I love him,” but really… you loved the kiss. You’re going to meet a friend you think you will know forever, but then something will change and you two will go your separate ways. You’re going to explore different parts of your life with different people who aren’t in it for the long haul, and that isn’t a bad thing. Life is a series of stories, and the way our stories intersect is remarkable. Sometimes people are in our lives for the whole story. Sometimes they are just a short chapter or two. It takes a brave person to know when that chapter is over, and then to turn the page. Be brave. Embrace your goodbyes, because every “goodbye” you receive in life sets you up for an even better “hello.”
If you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and live a life free of regrets. This is precisely why Angel and I wrote our book, “1,000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently”. It’s filled with short, concise tips on how to do just that. And believe it or not, Angel and I review a lot of our own material on a regular basis too, just to center our minds on these positive principles.
The bottom line is that it’s never too late to take a step in the right direction. It’s never too late to become the person you are capable of being. Things can change if you want them to, at any age. Right now you have an opportunity to write yourself a future full of peace and free of regret.
What would you add to the list?
What have you done lately that you know you will NOT regret in 10 years?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.
Photo by: Adam Lerner