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9 Signs You May Actually Rest in Peace Someday (With No Regrets)
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Practical Tips for Productive Living
Written by Marc Chernoff // 45 Comments
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Ron Albanese says
To always realize how blessed you are!
Carolyn Rogers says
#9 is very important to me, and the rest are definitely something I have to work on. Thank you!
So true Marc, everyone dies but not everyone really lives. I think people don’t live because they think that they will live forever – they never consider death. And they think that they’ll live more later in life when the circumstances are right. They’ll live later when they don’t have problems or after they leave the job they’re in. But in many cases, that later day never comes and people end up living a life of regret. A mixture of inertia and non-urgency about life causes us to lead mediocre lives. Your grandmother and Haley remind us how precious life is and to make the most of each day.
It’s why I personally left a job that didn’t suit me, a career that was lucrative, and a lifestyle that was comfortable. The path I’m walking now is uncertain and scary but truly makes me feel alive.
Your point resonates loud and clear: dying happy is living happy everyday!
Dominique Wayne Staunton says
To try new things and experience as much of life as possible all the way to death.
Melissa Webster says
@Carolyn Rogers and @marcandangel, what if you’re willing to turn it all around and you’ve worked hard to do just that, but you’re not actually able to turn it all around? What then?
Right now I don’t know if I should give up and let go or keep trying and traveling down these dead end roads that go nowhere. Every single “meaningful pursuit” I have/had in my life right now, and there are three different projects, are from seeds I have planted and cultivated over the past three years that have withered and died in the last six months before they were even given a chance. I did put it all on the line and took risks and made sacrifices, in ways nobody I know has ever had to do, on all three projects. All it did was lead to heartache, rejection and disappointment multiple times, on all three projects; and I’m further back now emotionally and professionally than I was a year ago. So no. Sometimes trying isn’t worth it at all, especially when instead of progress, even slow, steady progress (which drives me freaking nuts, by the way) you’re pushed backwards and all the progress you were making abruptly disappears and leaves you flapping in the wind alone.
So do I forget the past and let go (like is suggested many times on this blog) and start over from scratch with nothing? Or do I keep spinning my wheels on the same “meaningful pursuits” I have no help or resources or ability to do anything with?
This is the choice I’m faced with right now, because nothing feels right anymore and nothing falls into place no matter what I do, even when I’ve planned it out and know it should and know something I can’t explain is just ‘wrong’ and preventing it. And I can’t deal with the emotional roller coaster of having to keep forcing myself to be positive and have faith and hope when I no longer feel any of those things and have no reason to. Something has to change now, because this emotional roller coaster is stopping one way or another. I have no patience left for it.
Traveling down dead end roads to pursue dreams I have no way of bringing to fruition by myself doesn’t make me happy. In fact, it has the exact opposite affect on me and leaves me paralyzed and unable to do anything at all.
So which choice do I make? Give up and let go of the past or keep working on these “meaningful pursuits”? I need an answer so I can finally make a commitment and get off this roller coaster.
Sorry for the rant, but thank you for giving me a place to vent. If you can, I’m really grateful for any thoughts or suggestions you may have on this.
Cosimo Galletti says
I love the article. At Power with Balance we discuss these attributes as finding and being your authentic self along with always being present with your current reality. Have the ability to move through your personal and professional life as your authentic self, empowers others around you and leads to a higher level of self-performance. Great job on this piece. Cheers!
To truly live is what you wrote. It means doing what you want to do, no matter what. You don’t let people stop you or crush your dreams. You beat to your own drum with a smile on your face.
To die happy means you fully lived your life the way you wanted to live it, e.g., volunteering around the world and starting your own business, and made no apologies for it.
Inspiring stuff. God has made us unique, but we all unknowingly try to be same, do same things, imitate others. Truly living is making the most of our uniqueness.
David Rapp says
Melissa, I am a professional Project Manager. Rule #1 of being a PM: You are NOT your projects. It sounds like you define your happiness, worth and value by your projects success or failure. STOP!!!! Separate yourself from them.
I bet you can plan a project out in great detail, but can you tell me 5 things you love about yourself that are NOT work related? Besides, failure is an event not a person.
As I sit here and read this post, there are many things I want to write, but there are so many tears coming down, I can’t see through them.
I will come back, I promise, and share my thoughts. I need to. Thank you.
Larry Hochman says
I love all of these. One more related one…there’s nothing you would do differently, including the mistakes. Because they got you to exactly where you are now…as the author of your own life.
Martha Brettschneider says
I turn 50 in a couple of months, and am happy to say that I share your grandmother’s sentiments.
The key for me was dissolving my ego, embracing the present moment, recognizing that not all of those thoughts floating around in my head are to be trusted, and, most importantly, taking action where I can and letting go of everything else.
I just saw the film “Her” a few days ago. My favorite line (by Amy Adams’ character) was this:
“We’re only here briefly. I’ve decided to allow joy.”
Thanks, as always, for a fantastic post.
Melissa, I hear you. Many blogs I read say life is short, go for your dreams. But are they are the 10% that made it? Are there 90% out there, forced to live with their parents now? I am unsure of what to do too. If I risk and make it, of course I’d be happy. But what happens if I fail? Or worse, I risk it and make it, but still don’t like my new life, because the problem wasn’t the work, but me?
Melissa Webster says
@DavidRapp, Haha! Thank you. That was the perfect thing to say. As a writer, my work is art, an extension of myself, like breathing and there’s no way to separate from it. That I have this ability is probably the biggest thing I love about myself. It’s the soul-sucking process of trying to get other people interested in it too in order to do anything practical with it so, ya know, I can eat that ruins it for me. I’ve been pursuing this dream for so long, it defines everything about me. I didn’t realize it until you asked me that question, and I don’t have five things I love about myself that isn’t related to it.
So I guess your answer to my question is to stop trying to establish a writing career, get a ‘job’ and write for myself when I’m inspired, with no intention or desire for anyone else to read it or collaborate on it, and no intention or desire to do anything with it beyond creating the art? And also, to stop trying to get my start-up off the ground? All so I can find things I love about myself that aren’t work-related?
I get what you’re saying. I really do. But I also know it’s impossible to stand out from the pack and be successful in a highly competitive field without focus and sacrifice. It’s also impossible to be successful if you’re not personally invested in the outcome. I mean, if you don’t believe in what you are doing or if your heart is only half-ass in it, then why would anybody else invest their time and/or money in it? And when you’re like me and starting from behind with no resources, access or connections, you have no choice but to be even more focused and personally invested. Indifference isn’t going to get you where you want to go.
So yeah, that makes the failures and struggle that much more devastating. It’s akin to losing the love of your life and going through the grieving process while you pick up the pieces and try to move on. But it also makes the success that much sweeter when/if it happens. It’s a calculated risk I’m happy to make and I don’t mind doing what it takes to get there. My problem isn’t about coping with the failure. My problem is trying to figure out if there’s still something to salvage and I just need to try a different approach or if it’s time to cut my losses. I don’t know for sure if I’ve actually failed or if this is yet another frustrating, annoying gestation period of nothing. All I know for sure is I’m done sitting in stagnation. I have no control over what other people do and the choices they make, but I’m done letting it affect me and my life.
So the other things I love about myself, both personally and professionally, are strength, bravery, loyalty to those who deserve it, my analytical mind that excels at logic and reason, and being a natural leader. I also love being highly intuitive, though it can be a burden sometimes.
Thank you for your insight. It’s helped me focus on what decision to make.
Marc Chernoff says
@Melissa Webster and Becky:
Why not take small steps every day, and appreciate each of them for what they are? Separate the journey from the destination.
How do you want to feel? What are you trying to feel by pursuing your goals/work? Are there any adjustments that could be made to your routine/habits that would allow you to feel more of what you want to feel right now – during the journey?
For me, even when times are tough, it’s about taking a few tiny steps forward every single day that do two things:
1. They help me learn what I need to know to take the first step tomorrow.
2. They help me feel alive (connected to a purpose I believe in).
Whatever it is you need to achieve in life, take everything in stride, one tiny step at a time. Don’t build mountains in your mind. Don’t try to conquer the world all at once. When you choose instead to treat each moment as an opportunity to make a small, positive, investment in yourself – one that makes you feel worthy – the long-term rewards come more naturally.
@All: Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and keeping the conversation alive. I’ll be back later to read and respond to more comments.
Melissa Webster says
Hey @Becky, I have been exactly where you are. I think in regards to your last question, you have to know what you want and take the risk. There’s no way to know whether or not you’ll like your life once you ‘make it’ until you’re actually living it. And then you can make changes at that time if it isn’t working for you. Not doing it out of fear is probably something you’ll regret later.
I highly recommend you watch the film “Jobs” about Steve Jobs. It’s a great insight on the personality and struggles of natural leaders, big thinkers who function outside the box, and highly talented, creative people. A common element is that they don’t usually play well with others in the traditional sense, and they don’t notice, care or participate in the petty bullshit of office politics and hierarchy. They focus on the creative process and what’s needed to make it reality. Most, if not all, great thinkers, leaders and creative geniuses have a hard time relating to other people in a normal, structured, everyday environment and do not function well with authority who micromanages and controls them. They eventually either rebel and go off on their own and become someone like Steve Jobs or fall into emotional problems, like addiction and mental breakdowns. There isn’t a lot of middle ground for them.
Steve Jobs understood this and incorporated an environment that fostered these personalities to create great, revolutionary things that changed the landscape of music, phones and computers. Google is another really good example of this. A lot of successful tech companies ‘get’ this. Unfortunately, however, the majority of companies and industries don’t understand it and never get beyond mediocre because of it. So I guess it’s a matter of figuring out how badly you want your dream and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get it, and then just doing it, dealing with the rest as/if it comes along.
I hope that helps.
Best of luck.
Mitch K says
I’ve tried the “small steps each day” thing and it hasn’t helped. When you’re invested in what you’re doing, whether you call it a “project” or a “dream” or a “vision”, the journey alone isn’t the thing. Without the destination, the journey has no value. It’s just a meaningless (in the literal sense) series of actions. The steps are unconnected, and might as well be random. Without the destination, the end, you might as well drift through life.
The underlying driving force that should set people above the ordinary isn’t just doing, but doing with a purpose, a destination. If you take the destination away, and take steps, are you different from the drifters?
Susanna Halonen says
What an amazing list!
Am so behind every one of those, especially the “be you” part as well as appreciating what you have every day. These are things which have guided me in my life the last few years – and have helped me find my path & feel amazing! 🙂
I would add that you should qualify #1 a bit too. You have to modify yourself sometimes to be socially acceptable. People do not want the unvarnished truth, do not want to be told your opinions if they clash with theirs, and do not want your every bitchy thought. If you are pleasant and able to express your feelings in an assertive, non aggressive or passive aggressive way, you can be yourself totally. If not, bite your tongue. I learned this lesson too long ago to be able to be different without help (Probably therapy, but I can’t afford that! )
So happy that I happened upon your blog post today. Much of it I strive for daily (Emerson’s quote has been a favorite for years) but today I especially loved #6-Roll with Life… Thanks for a great post.
Melissa Webster says
Ron C. de Weijze says
Live as if your life depends on it. For it does.
Dave Nordella says
“Your worst inner battle will always be between what you know and what you feel. One of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make is when to stay put and try harder or when to just take your memories and move on. Sometimes you have to step outside of the person you’ve been, and remember the person you were meant to be, the person you are capable of being, and the person you truly are.”
That is a challenging statement, Marc, but one that everybody should consider. I haven’t walked a mile in your shoes but am learning that every success story has a hard luck story behind it. I admire the courage of your convictions and apparently so do many others by the number of comments that you receive.
Thank you, Marc!
What a great read. Made me stop and evaluate where I am in my life. An excellent reminder of just how short this life is.
Number 8 resonates with me, “you make plenty of time for the people you love,” because it is an area where I can grow. I sometimes allow writing and work to consume my life, and I don’t take enough time for the people in it that make it as special as it is. I appreciate this reminder of focusing on what is important.
To me, living the most fulfilling life and dying happy means creating the life that you want and not following the path that someone has created for you, and most importantly sharing that life with those people that you love. Life is meant to be created.
Thanks again for the meaningful words!
Sherry Klumpp says
I so relate to everything you write, but I sometimes wonder how you have arrived to Being and living in the present. This is so rare.
I’ve faced death through cancer and a bone marrow transplant. It’s sad that things so extreme finally wake you up and appreciate what truly matters in this life.
I scanned the posts, and what little I picked up, I noticed people are trying to figure things out. Stay, leave. Change, don’t change. For me, I move forward by getting out of my head and just being. When one door closes, more open. What you refer to as the Universe, I refer to as God. It astounds me when matters that confront me suddenly have a solution without me doing a thing.
I love your blog and your book. I can so relate. I wish I could give this gift to everyone I know. What I can do is smile, empathize, show kindness and compassion to people who need it. I’m still faced with physical challenges, but if I focus on others, the joy is amazing.
Melissa Webster says
@marcandangel, Sorry. I forgot to thank you for this post. It’s wonderful and one of your best. Especially #2. This is what I’m going to focus on while I make my decisions.
@Bj, #6 is the hardest one for me, but I’m finally going to try to surrender to it and see what happens.
This was a REALLY great list! I love your lists, but this one really got me. Thanks so much for your encouragement of it(us) all! Love and light, Sara
Michelle T says
I love lists like these! They help people take responsibility for their happiness. Thanks for the encouragement!
Mitch K says
“Someday you will realize that life is like an ocean. It can be calm and serene or rough and wild, but in the end it’s always beautiful to those willing to ride the waves.”
Great advice – it’s easier to go with rather than against, if you can. But sometimes the ocean is a rough ride.
Wow..this was really great. So many nuggets of wisdom I’m not sure where to begin. All I can say is awesome and share worthy . In fact I’m printing and putting someplace where I can read this daily. It moved me… For both the actions I know I can take to live better, as well as the moments I lost and need to let go . Thank you.
Harmony Paquette says
That was very inspirational and helped me a lot
Some people don’t realize that it doesn’t take much to make others smile and feel good.
Hello all, I have re-read this post many times. I can truly say that I have lived a happy life, and if I were to die tomorrow, the only regret is that I would not be able to see my loved ones here on earth again. But once I got to heaven, I would be with other loved ones passed. So really it is a win-win situation. I’m great for giving the advice of when one door closes, another opens. I need to realize that for myself. I need to give myself the chance to be happy again. My soul mate and husband of 36 years passed in 2011. Thinking each day that I will never find happiness again. My mantra is still “one day at a time”.
I so enjoy reading everyone’s comments. They are all heartfelt, and many help so much. I am very glad to be a part of you all.
Thank you all again and again.
Eslam Talaat says
You say… “and who you help whenever you’re able.”
I think that’s me, as I don’t hesitate helping people. For me it is the ultimate happiness.
To understand that nothing is random. To realize that you are CREATED for a specific reason and purpose. Then to live each and every day as an adventure and opportunity, no matter if is good or bad. To look for your chance to make a difference in someone’s life in every single one of these days.
I absolutely fell in LOVE with this article! I was drinking my morning coffee while everyone was still asleep and my mind hadn’t yet realized the endless To Do List I had awaiting, so I was in a calm space and able to take it all in.
The end part of #3 and the beginning of #9 are what I need to be reminded of … oh probably hourly, sometimes. Life has a way of speeding up and the feelings of being overwhelmed quickly take over.
I have decided to embark on the journey of meditation and printed this list out to put in my daily reflection journal for those days when I need a reminder.
Thanks for all you do!!!!
Stephen Anderson says
Be who I truly am 100%, that is a goal worth living for. Be kind, be thankful. How many time have we heard these ideas and passed them by as obvious or plain?
Truth is, life is simple. We get back much of what we put out into the world. Maybe not in exactly the same form down to the tiniest detail, but in spirit and in consequence.
Pay it forward. Pay it back. Give more in value than you take. Honest thoughts and a wonderful post… thank you Marc.
@Sherry, “I move forward by getting out of my head and just being.” That is a problem, just can’t seem to get out of my head. I just want to “be” again.
@Pamela, “To understand that nothing is random.” Totally agree. I have seen proof of this many times.
@Stephen, “Pay it forward. Pay it back.” Love this, and do follow this principal. What goes around, comes around.
Would like to comment to many other’s, but don’t want to be a pest. Again, it is so refreshing to hear others views. You all help me in your own words. Thanks
Marc Chernoff says
@Mitch K: I think my position can be summed up with this quote from Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Bottom line: What you have to do to get where you want to go is how you will spend the majority of your life. If you choose a destination that makes every day of your life miserable, then you have chosen the wrong destination. Or perhaps you are thinking about your days (the work) in the wrong way.
@Melayahm: Excellent points – humility and common courtesy are important at times too. Just make sure they don’t completely overshadow your truth.
@Dave Nordella: We all have our ups and downs. Angel and I have had our fair share of both. Thanks so much for the kudos and for supporting our work (I saw via email that you purchased our book).
@Sherry Klumpp: I admire your kindness and strength. Thank you for sharing part of your story with us, and for helping those around you.
@Betsy: “One day at a time” is my mantra too. Your strength and continued involvement in our community here is inspiring. Thank you.
@All: Thank you, as always. Angel and I really do nod our heads when we read your comments – so many amazing stories and experiences. We often discuss a few of your comments each afternoon and take notes for future posts. Honestly, your sharing is appreciated more than you could imagine.
mitch k says
Marc: how do I learn what the destination is / should be? I’ve done dozens of these “find your goal/vocation/true calling” exercises, and not once have I come up with an answer beyond “not what you’re doing now” or “dunno.” Both of those might be true but they aren’t exactly helpful.
The other thing that perplexes me is how you feed, clothe, house and support the aspirations of those who depend on you (children for instance) while you go on a different journey? This is something I want, but don’t know where to start.
I really believe that stumbling upon your blog is one of the most important thing that happened in my life! Your posts truly resonates to my own life experiences and helped me cope up. At times it will make me question myself if I am doing the right thing. Just like this post – following your passion and doing what you love to do. Don’t we all oftentimes need to set aside our “passion” to be able to provide a decent living for our families? (I sincerely don’t want this to sound sarcastic) if all people will follow their passion in the work environment who would be left to clean sewages, wash dishes in restaurants, and all the mundane task that most people are not “passionate” about? I don’t think this world will function.
Is following our inner passion worthy of sacrificing/neglecting our duties and responsibilities as a wife maybe, a husband, father/mother to our children, as a daughter/son to our parents? Isn’t it the truth that we cant have it all at once? You can follow your dreams and risk other factors of your life, or you can make yourself contented on what you are doing right now for the sake of people that depend on you? If we are to look at the balanced approach, isn’t it the same as not giving it your best shot (risking everything) to reach your dreams? Or you should look at your life like you have nothing to lose (Steve Jobs)? Life is absolutely not perfect. We all know that. We always got to sacrifice one thing for the other.
We just got to be wise to choose which one will make us a lot less miserable and a little bit happier. At least that is what i believe. But I still doubt myself sometimes.
To live a life and die happy… Means to fulfill the purpose of my life.
Staying true to my values and to God, staying on my path in the storm and when others try to convince me out of it. I have a clear purpose of my life and a clear “why”. With this, I am living, and I will die happy.