by Naïby Jacques
“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.”
Have you ever wondered what gives some people the willingness to move without fear or hesitation?
They do things you believe you can’t do because you’re afraid of the outcome, of the unknown, of the pain.
You see people who can let go of things that might matter to them, and move on with their lives without struggling too much. You see people who can quit or change their jobs, end difficult relationships, and travel around the world, just like that.
Sometimes you regret not trying harder to follow in the footsteps. And you wonder…
What do these people have that I don’t? What’s their secret?
Well, I’ve studied the lives of dozens of courageous (and also successful) people over the years, and I’m happy to share these time-tested strategies for courageously living your life without regrets:
- Be as weird as you are. – Don’t be afraid to provoke the status quo. Maybe some of your ideas are crazy. But crazy ideas are what shake the world. Crazy ideas make revolutions. So don’t be afraid to be different, and don’t be afraid to break traditions. Sure, some people will be frustrated and opposed to your weirdness. Some people might even criticize you. But even if it takes time for them to embrace your ideas, you’re showing them a new way of thinking. You’re planting a seed in their heads and opening their minds – and you’re opening your own mind too. The minute you understand that you can be weird and mold life your own way, you allow yourself to shake off the erroneous notion that life is just there, and that you’re just going to exist in it, rather than embrace it, change it, improve it, and truly live it.
- Choose to act even when you’re unsure of your ability. – Everyone has doubts about their abilities. You might think you’re not good enough, not smart enough, or not strong enough. And it’s OK if you’re not great at something, because you don’t have to be. It doesn’t matter if you don’t do things perfectly either. What matters is that you dare to try. Instead of looking at the end result (the big picture), divide your project into pieces and tackle the piece you feel most comfortable with first. You need to be content with small steps in life. Honestly, that’s all life is – small steps that you take every day, and then one day when you look back down the road it all adds up and you know you covered some serious distance. (Read The Miracle Morning.)
- Fearlessly follow your intuition. – Intuition is seeing with the soul. It’s about giving your God-given instincts a say in the matter. Of course, at first this may seem irrational. You might think the more you over-analyze, the more you’ll make good decisions, right? But more often than not, doing so can actually lead you to make poorer decisions. Exclusively using your rational mind, or relying on your ego, keeps you safe and secure – meaning there’s no room to take calculated risks and learn and grow from them. Using your rational mind 24/7 allows your fears to overcome you. And those fears can cloud the signals that your body – that powerful communicator and receptor – sends you. So you need to be in the present and pay attention to your body’s sensations: tightness in the chest, goose bumps, odors, visions, etc. That’s your intuition! Don’t be afraid to make decisions that seem a little irrational from the outside, yet feel totally right on the inside.
- Stand up for your values (even at the risk of rejection). – Never compromise your values. Don’t let the fear of being rejected stop you from affirming what’s important to you. The right people will respect you more and hold you in higher regard if you’re rigorous about your principles, if you’re honest, and if you stay consistent about what you believe in. This is a powerful way to solidify your relationships and to gain mutual trust… Maybe not in the beginning, but in the long run. Furthermore, standing up for your values instantly makes you a leader, as it’s the most heroic quality one can aspire to.
- Speak your mind even if your voice shakes. – At times, you may think your word has no weight. But it does (regardless of how miniscule you may think it is). Your opinion will be an eye-opener for some people, and it will be a source of liberation for others. We all have an altruist nature buried within. We all want to help the people around us in some way. So instead of being stuck in your mind, ask yourself how your thoughts and words might help the ones around you, and focus on them instead of the ones you believe might judge you. Let people take you as you are, or not at all. By being yourself, you put something beautiful into the world that was not there before. And this helps everyone who’s worth helping (including YOU).
- Be willing to be vulnerable. – Nothing is wrong with telling someone else how you truly feel. Sharing something personal makes you stronger in people’s eyes, and most importantly in your own. Being able to show the real you when most people would rather hide behind a fake mask is an admirable quality. So don’t be ashamed to shed a tear. Being vulnerable only shows that you’re able to face the truth – even the hard truth – with dignity. Open yourself up. Allow yourself to feel, to be mindful and authentic. Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around yourself and experience every exquisite emotion, both good and bad. This is real life.
- Be willing to be judged. – Don’t let fear of embarrassment stop you from trying something new. Sometimes we withhold ourselves from novelty because we’re afraid some people might call us silly or stupid. Shying away from trying something new stops your growth and your evolution. It stops you from acquiring new skills and knowledge. And life is a continuous school. Don’t miss out on opportunities to learn something enriching. If you think your new project might seem ridiculous to some people, turn those thoughts around in a funny or a disarming way, and go ahead and take the classes that interest you. And if people judge you for it, feel sorry for them, for simple minds are usually amused by simple things. (Read Daring Greatly.)
- Admit when you’re wrong. – You would think that pride is a positive emotion, but it’s not when it’s excessive. Excessive pride is a reaction to insecurity. So when you know you’re wrong, instead of trying to protect your self-esteem in the eyes of others, hold your tongue for two minutes, take a deep breath, and find the lesson. Consider the fact that being wrong is OK, and then admit that you are wrong. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes strength to admit it, but it makes you more humble and commendable. And even more importantly, realize that when you’re wrong, you’re meant to be wrong so that you may outgrow the things you need to outgrow.
- End hurtful relationships. – One of the very hardest parts of loving someone: You have to give things up for them. And sometimes, you even have to give them up. Of course, it’s always difficult to let go of someone you care about (or cared about) without getting hurt in the process. Even if this person has hurt you a hundred times, you start thinking of all these what ifs – these maybes about the future. But that’s just the thing… there’s nothing concrete and reliable about these feelings and fantasies. The reality of their actions has disproven them. When someone shows you their true colors time and time again, it’s best to believe them and carry on without them. (Marc and Angel discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Forgive (even when you’ve been deeply hurt). – Forgiveness isn’t holding on to someone who hurt you; it’s coming to peace with what happened and moving forward with your life, one way or the other. Some of us have a tendency to hold grudges against people. We’re unable to let go of the past. But grudges are a toxic emotion – an emotion that can rot inside you and turn you into a bitter, egotistical zombie. Know that pain is short-lived. Emotional pain is a call to acknowledge it and address it, instead of letting it get the best of you. In fact, forgiveness is the sweetest revenge. If you can forgive someone who did you wrong, you’re at least one step ahead of them in the karma department, and one step ahead of everyone else who’s still holding on to old grudges that are holding them back.
Life is not about maintaining the status quo.
Life is not about playing it safe.
Life is not about standing still.
It’s about connecting with your soul, respecting your integrity, and telling yourself that you’re able. It’s about taking a few steps, regardless of how little they may be, so you can move forward, and evolve.
That’s why you were put here on this earth: to grow. You can be challenged, scared, and stretched to your limits, but taking action will make you feel gratified beyond belief.
And the best part is: You become more decisive, more playful, and more vigorous.
So don’t be afraid to let go of your inhibitions. Don’t be afraid to be disappointed. Don’t be afraid to get hurt.
Ask yourself about the costs and implications of not taking action. Then think of the new possibilities that could arise if you do dare to act.
Be daring and courageous!
Get moving and live it!
This is your one shot…
What would you add to the list? What’s something you’ve done that took a lot of courage (that you know you will never regret)? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Author bio: Naïby Jacques is passionate about holistic health. As she’s also a vegan chef, she’s on a mission to help people add more plant foods to their diet by giving tips and tricks to make quick, easy, and delicious recipes so they can maintain the lifestyle permanently. Get her free 10 Snacks under 10 min that Are Actually Good for You.
Photo by: Jessica Neuwerth
Lei Lani Lucero says
You have one life – this is it – live it!
Fay Daliva says
Thank you for another wonderful post on avoiding regrets. Definitely something we need reminding of often. In fact, for the longest time I lived with dozens of regrets, and I beat myself up about them. Ever since I found your blog and signed up for your weekly emails I have turned things around in a big way.
It’s so easy to get stuck on autopilot, until one day we wake up with a load of regrets and perhaps not enough time to reconcile them.
My addition to the list: I will never regret taking a pay cut and lesser job title to spend more time watching and helping my two daughters grow up. It certainly took courage, but it’s been a true blessing
This is a wonderful motivation for me. I’m just starting to get my freelance business off the ground, and I’m gaining traction. From time to time I used to worry whether all this effort and taking the risk would be worth it. But I knew if I didn’t try, I would never know.
I’ve been in business now for just over a month and I already have seven clients.
Your blog and book have truly helped me move my life and business forward. Thank you.
Dare to be present in the moment is one I would add to the list!
Similar to #6, don’t be afraid to feel bad sometimes.
Claudiu C. says
While I was reading this article I felt that I was ticking off almost every point that you made. This actually surprised me, but then again it makes sense, as I have always been against the status quo. This hasn’t been easy, but it’s who I am and it doesn’t feel good to suppress it.
Thank you for always writing great articles.
Thanks a lot!
I have been told to my face that I am weird. “Be as weird as you are” has certainly motivated me to accept my weirdness.
Thanks for another motivational post!
Rose Costas says
Thanks for another awesome post Angel. I have been so inspired by your blog since I started reading frequently. I have been working on things that have scared me half to death before and realize now that it was all in my mind.
I have also realized that there are so many people in this world who have felt fear, anger, have regrets and made mistakes but have gone on to lead successful lives.
I too want to tell my story to others to help them through difficult times when I have succeeded. I will take those small steps daily with confidence and courage.
Thank you for those valuable tips. Great article, especially for someone like me who is always second-guessing herself! Often I get saddled with “analysis paralysis” and instead of just making choices, end up avoiding them. Then I look back and see no progress being made at all. Your words are inspiring, thanks again!
I should print this out and keep it on my table. I need motivational articles like this to remind me everyday that it is okay to live because I am alive. And it is okay to feel pain because that is sometimes the cost of happiness. Thank you for this!
To me, it was all summed up in this one line: “Ask yourself about the costs and implications of NOT (emphasis mine) taking action.” I think that is the #1 thing I ask myself, when in doubt about doing vs. not doing, regardless of the issue.
This article could not have come at better time in my life. It helps me to know that even though things have been difficult for me. I know that making the hard choices in life only in the end make us stronger and better people. And hurtful actions by others are only toxic and simply not necessary in life to achieve what you want. Being caring, compassionate and open minded to others only eventually brings good Karma to us all.
Couldn’t agree more! Taking risks is like playing the lottery; the more tickets you buy, the bigger your chances of actually winning.
I think it’s also important to pay attention to the brave things you HAVE done. Sure, you may not have traveled the world or quit your boring job, but everyone has done something courageous at some point. Focus on that, and know that you are capable of living with courage!
Lisa R says
I would probably add learning to love yourself and be happy by yourself, that you don’t always need someone to “complete” you.
This post helped hit home to remind me to keep going in this path. Thank you! 🙂
Thank you for this today.
It has reminded me I have to be true to myself, even at the expense of disappointing others sometimes. I’m finding the courage…and learning that I don’t need to feel guilty.
I am listening to my intuition…thank you.
Thanks for these words. Your blog posts always help with my self-loathing.
David Rapp says
People will always judge you, so you may as well do things that are best for you. I’d rather be judged for taking risks, speaking up, and being active that anything else.
We do not raise statues to people who followed the rules.
I am struggling to see where some of this has to do with regret.
Quinn Eurich says
Perfect timing too! I’m having a low confidence day and this just reminds me that as long as I keep putting 1 foot in front of the other, I’m still moving forward towards my goal!
I enjoyed your article more than I knew I would. I sort of knew I was stuck but mow I know I’m stuck and am having trouble. Moving forward! I keep asking others for their advice as if they know better than me. Your article really rang a bell. I hope to use it to help me make some important life decisions.
Live your life not to please people.
Marc and Angel, what a great honour to be featured on your blog. I’m so grateful.
@Lei Lani Lucero?
Right on! Those are my exact words when I hesitate to do something!?
I agree. Never compromise your family for anything else. My 4 yr-old son always reminds me of that.?
I’m in the same boat as you. I lost my job 3 months ago and my little voice told me to do what I’m more passionate about it. So I’m giving it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, at least I’ll know I tried.?
Yes, it’s perfectly OK because we’re all emotional beings after all.?
Good for you. Once, somebody told me I was courageous and it never occurred to me until I wrote this article. ?
You’re right. So many successful people had periods where things were really bad. What keeps me going is the movie I make in my head about my life: having a big-time failure only to come back with a great ending. Even if the great ending doesn’t materialize, the process will still be great.?
Doubting myself is my #1 struggle. Sometimes you just have to close your eyes, jump and hope for the best.
I learned to ask myself this question too and this sentence has been a big life-changer for me.?
Agree. I find making hard choices is what makes life interesting.?
You’re right. Congratulating your accomplishments reinforces your idea of yourself and keeps you going.?
I’m glad it helped.
Your intuition always wants what’s best for you and it will never disappoint you if you listen to it carefully.
I’m glad it helped!?
A lot of it has to do with looking back at the actions you didn’t take. Most of the time, you’ll find that you wished you did things differently or you might be disappointed that you didn’t stay true to yourself, that you weren’t authentic. This happens to me a lot. I hope it makes sense.
A phenomenal post, as per the usual from you guys. So many points resonated with me and have bolstered my resolve to make some moves and changes I’ve been deliberating on. I will re-read this one for a couple of days and implement the action steps regarding the points that have spoken to me. Thank you both for the insight. Blessings.
Jake Mcspirit says
Naïby, what an insightful post! It can be intimidating to face the unknown, but fear should never be a limiting factor in our life.
We’ve got to open ourselves up to life, even in spite of fear, if we’re ever to push the boundaries of ourselves and see ourselves for the limitless potential we really are.
Beautifully written, thank-you.
I am so happy I found this site. Right now I am struggling with being in a relationship that is not giving me what I need. I have walked down this road before and need the courage to just say I count also. I have listened to the little voice, my body tries to tell me but I always walk down the the road that leads me to the same place being unhappy and not being myself. So this time around being hurt or not I am going to try to end this and maybe break this familiar behavior!!!! Thank you Mark and Angel Wish me luck!!!
Bob Crawford says
ALL WE EVER HAVE IS NOW.
Ritu Chowdhary says
So true – Life is not about playing it safe!!
I have a thought for #9: End hurtful relationships:
Though at times few relationships get hurtful, but we have spend a wonderful time with that person, we cherish the beautiful memories, its not easy to let things go this way. We should be empathetic about the other person sometimes, Let time pass and decide, if it’s meant to heal or Leave!!
Following my heart, my instincts will mean seperating from my spouse of 17 years. What holds me back is causing irreparable emotional brokenness to my precious children. I’d rather suffer than make them suffer. Yet it does hurt so.
Mark Tong says
Spot on post Naïby – really clear and inspiring. I think the most courageous thing I ever did was tell a girl I had only met for a few hours that I loved her on sight and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. That was Laura, my awesome wife and we have hardly been apart a day since for 26 years. So the bottom line is you are so right: you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by living courageously
What an amazing list. Courage is such a wonderful word. I love the sound of the word!
I’m working on intuition, vulnerability and acting even when I’m scared at the moment. Listening more deeply to what my heart and gut are telling me, as well as my logical brain has been really powerful in helping me to open up. And taking small steps each day, small actions, checking in regularly to see they are aligned with my values, has helped me to make progress towards my dreams in a way I would never have believed a few years ago.
Thanks for sharing this great list.
Anne Ricci says
Wonderful post! I have to come back and read it once a week, as there are so many profound tips that I already follow but tend to be so quick to forget…
I often find myself disappointed when I realize I took decisions based on someone else’s influence or agenda, instead of following my own intuition and being true to myself.
Linda Catherine Robinson says
Thank you for this wise post Naïby.
One thing I thought of comes under your No. 10 on Forgiveness.
It helps to also forgive our own sweet selves for mistakes we’ve made so we can move forward and not get stuck by beating ourselves up. 🙂
I want to give #3 a shout out. Listening to and following intuition has been very powerful for me. At times, it has appeared to send me on the wrong path but always ends up being spot on.
I really enjoyed this. I felt inspired and validated on a major choice I made to end a love relationship in 2005. I LOVED reading all your comments, and Mark Tong . . . You REALLY blew my mind!
Thanks a lot for this powerful encouragement.
Love this post. It’s not always easy to step out in courage, but the payoffs are huge. We’re all afraid of something at some time but doing the thing anyway is what makes life the most fantastic adventure.
Jamie Wyatt says
You captured my philosophy! Well done!
Eugene Kovalenko says
Remarkable ten points and follow-on counsel! The one decision I’ll never regret is what led to creating the “ARTIFACT”. It was that point where my relationship with LDS leadership turned from acceptance to challenge, when I would not allow a new young bishop dismiss the experience that forever changed my life. See: orthodoxodyssey.blogspot.com/2009/06/revelation.html. In sharing this with you-all here, I risk disclosing my ‘weirdness’. But that was your number 1 point, was it not?!
The best success mantra is to understand the power of rejection. Success lies in the acceptance of rejection and going forward.
Fantastic guide and it’s very reliable sources about these 10 Courageous Ways to Live Life Without Regrets. Thanks for sharing this post. Great!
Bob Crawford says
“Someone once told me the definition of Hell:
The last day you have on earth, the person you became meets the person you could have become.”
In the long run (# 2 ). The best sales people are not the ones that are the most charismatic or even with the best sales pitch.The best sales people are the ones that take rejection best… How can anyone reject you… if YOU refuse to reject you?
Elizabeth Santiago says
Thank you for the posting, very encouraging. Had to end a relationship, although it hurt, like pulling a band aide from a wound. I know in the long run I was better off. This person was against cheating, but was always drooling over other women right in front of me. Want to live a happy life, not always fighting, not being able to trust. Felt extremely insecure in the relationship. He said he loved me, but never proved it.
Thanks for another Great Article!
I just happened to be on your website today, and stumbled upon this article on courage. I am currently at a crossroads in my life, trying to make what could very well be the biggest decision of my life, so far. Some friends and family have stressed their concerns, which only fuels my fears. But…after reading your article, I believe I am just going to Go For It! I don’t want any regrets. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering “what if”, and yes…not acting is sometimes worse than not trying at all. Thank you.
Fiona Campbell says
Train your mind to follow your heart. – I find this a very challenging task, but essential to make real change and create what I truly want.
I recently took the plunge and told my partner what I intuitively felt to be my next step. It has been extraordinary, since that moment, of how things have unfolded, we are aligned and moving forward together.
Abdul Rauf says
Life is not about status quo, I highly appreciate that. “Be as weird as you are” is the most helping point for me. I really loved this article
I LOVE this! All the things mentioned are things I wholeheartedly believe are true and could be part of “Life’s Little Instructions”. Thank you for a wonderful post!
Rules to Avoid Regret
Rule#1: Aim High; no limits.
Rule#2: Be Respectful; no conflicts.
Rule#3: Stay Prepared; no surprises
“Prevention is (always) better than cure”
I’m practicing being weird and getting over the fear of being judged by others. In any area of life, I do not want to lose track of my inner voice because of the outside noise.
I take this from today’s post: Life is not about maintaining the status quo, playing it safe, and standing still.