I want to talk about regret. You know that depressing feeling of sadness, annoyance or embarrassment you get after your behaviour has passed. Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda. But it just doesn’t seem to cut it. I believe that regret is a choice, your choice. You need to take responsibility and choose to live life with no regrets. The most common regret people have on their death bed is not living a life true to themselves but rather the one that others expect of them. Once you have made the decision to stand up for yourself and to want this sort of life, here are a few simple tips for how to live with no regrets.
Follow Your Own Path
I believe that throughout life you are faced with many decisions and you need to focus on making the right choice for you, not those around you. You need to follow your own path in life, not the one that is expected of you, and not one that copies what others have or are doing. Be ready and open for opportunities that come your way. This may involve you looking at your work:life balance. A common regret that people have at the end of their lives is that they wish they didn’t work so hard. Make a conscious decision to simplify your life and to cut back on work so that you can make yourself available for opportunities. When they do come up be sure to consider all of the options fully, but remember it is ok to say no.
Have a Goal
Regret stems from not doing something in the past, to avoid it you first need to know what it is that you want. Don’t wait until it is too late to do anything about it, stop watching by the sidelines as time slips through your fingers, be proactive and sit down and write yourself a list – be creative, inspire yourself. You can take your time to make your list (remember that you can always keep adding to it) and be sure to include some quickly actionable goals on there too because these often boost your confidence before tackling the bigger ones. You could even break your big goals down into smaller goals that are more attainable (and less scary).
It is ok to make mistakes, to fail. Don’t be afraid of this or you will never try anything and you will have regrets. Look at making mistakes or failing from a different perspective, it is called learning! There are no regrets in life, just lessons. That’s an eye opener isn’t it. Learning is better than not trying and having regrets.
Laugh, Relax & Share
Try to relax and not get too caught up in it all. Just have a bit of fun and laugh it off if you have to. It helps if you are surrounded by friends so make the effort to keep in touch with people who are important to you, nip this one in the bud because it is another common regret that people have at the end of their lives. Be sure to share your happiness with others but be sure to show them respect. Don’t judge others or try to change them, simply wish them well and put out there what you want for yourself. However, I think it is important to express yourself and your feelings. Try not to carry resentment and bitterness towards others by speaking honestly to people. Sometimes there is a fine line that you walk between respect and honesty, you need to learn to balance the two. Along the way you may lose some people, but they are often what is commonly termed ‘toxic’ so it is usually best for the both of you.
Focus on the present
Don’t hold grudges over things that happened in the past, let it go (yes, I may be writing this while my daughter watches Frozen and have stopped to sing that song for a little while!). To be able to let go you may need to have a closer look at the thing you regret to figure out how you can look at it from your new perspective. What lesson can you take from it? Don’t dwell on it too long though, accept the mistake, learn the lesson and move on. From the past to the future – don’t put things off until later. Focus on the present moment and just do it. Keep moving forward, even little steps, and enjoy the journey towards your goals because it is often the journey that is the most enjoyable rather than the end result. Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back, not even yourself! That being said, I do encourage the idea of having reminders of your goals or priorities around you, but focus on them in your every day without getting too ahead of yourself.
I think perhaps this last point of focussing on the present is one of the most important. It is ok and normal to have regret but I suppose my point is that when you make that ‘wrong’ decision you need to learn from it and move on. Don’t dwell on the negativity of it, take the positives, change your behaviour and move forward. The advice preceding that is about how to avoid getting in to situations that may lead to a regretful decision.
So there you have it, my thoughts on how to live a life with no regrets. I didn’t say it was going to be easy. Between dropping back on work, muddling out what it is you want, letting go of all your past regrets, learning how to balance respect and honesty, keeping in touch with friends, cutting toxic people and trying to keep yourself in the present – well, there are a lot of places to ‘fall off the tracks’. But that’s ok. You have to start somewhere and while it seems daunting and requires some effort, you will soon learn how to do it and it will become second nature to you. Don’t be put off, make a note to do something about this now. That’s right, this is your first test. Don’t regret it. Don’t put it off until later. Take that baby step to start now or to at the very least make a note about doing this self assessment. Choose to live a life with no regrets.
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