The things you didn’t do when you had the chance. That priceless relationship you neglected. Those important words you left unspoken…
Every one of us has experienced feelings of regret. But it’s not too late to set things straight. We’re still here breathing. Right now we have an opportunity to change our future. Right now we can choose to erase regret from our later years.
Here are nine things no one wants to regret when they’re older, and some thoughts on avoiding these regrets:
1. Not spending enough time smiling with the 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 child smile, experiencing intimate and heart-felt moments with your significant other – these times are precious and free.
Don’t get so caught up in the rat race, working 50+ 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 money, and thus work fewer hours and enjoy more of what matters most.
As we get older, fun is often underrated. With all of our responsibilities, fun seems like an indulgence. It shouldn’t be. It should be a requirement. When your work life is busy, and all your energy is focused in that arena, it’s all too easy to find yourself off balance. While drive and focus is important, if you intend to maintain happiness and peace in your life you still need to balance in the soccer games, the family dinners, the intimate dates with your significant other, etc.
We’ve all been hurt by another person at some point – we were treated poorly, trust was broken, hearts were hurt. And while this pain is normal, sometimes it lingers for too long. We relive the pain over and over and have a hard time letting go.
This creates problems. It not only causes us to be unhappy, but it can strain or ruin our relationships, distract us from work and family and other important things, and make us reluctant to open up to new things and people. We get trapped in a cycle of anger and hurt, and miss out on the beauty of life as it happens.
Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness. If there’s someone in your life who deserves another chance, give it to them. If you need to apologize, do it. Give your story together a happy new beginning. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
3. Fulfilling everyone else’s dreams, instead of your own.
Unfortunately, just before you take your first step on the righteous journey to pursue your dreams, people around you, even the ones who deeply care for you, will give you awful advice. It’s not because they have evil intentions. It’s because they don’t understand the big picture – what your dreams, passions, and life goals mean to you.
Have the courage to live a life true to YOU, not the life others expect of you. Make time to pursue your passion, no matter how busy you are or what anyone else says.
As our friend Steve Jobs once said:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
4. Not being honest about how you feel.
Say what you need to say, and never apologize for showing your feelings. Many people suppress their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settle for carrying the weight of their own silence. Give yourself permission to feel a full range of emotions. When you’re in touch with what you’re feeling, you’re more likely to understand the situation at hand and resolve it instead of avoiding it.
Also, if you want to connect with others, you need to accept and love yourself first, even when your truth feels heavy. In the end, expressing your feelings will boost your relationships, including your relationship with yourself, to a new healthier level. And your open honesty will also help you to realize and release unhealthy relationships from your life.
5. Being foolish and irresponsible with your finances.
When you spend less than you make you buy lifestyle flexibility and freedom. You are buying the ability to say yes to the things that matter, because you’re saving on the things that don’t. Money can bring comfort, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying that comfort. But it’s important to spend money on the things that truly matter to you, and let go of spending that does not add value to your life.
Live a comfortable life, not a wasteful one. Stop buying stuff you do not need. Do not spend to impress others. Do not live life trying to fool yourself into thinking wealth is measured in material objects. Manage your money wisely so your money does not manage you. (Read Rich Dad Poor Dad.)
6. Getting caught up in needless drama and negativity.
Don’t expect to achieve long-term happiness if you surround yourself with negative people. Don’t give part-time people a full-time position in your life. Know your value and what you have to offer, stay positive, and never settle for anything less than what you deserve.
There comes a time in life when you have to let go of all the pointless drama and the people who create it. Staying out of other people’s drama is an incredibly effective way to simplify your life and reduce stress. Surround yourself with positive people who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad, so you can focus on the good. Life really is too short to be anything but positive and happy.
7. Never making your own happiness a priority.
For the average person happiness is a choice, yet numerous people are unhappy. There are many reasons, but it all boils down to one simple principle: They choose something else over happiness. Because it often takes less effort to be unhappy.
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.
So be happy; be yourself. If others don’t like it, then let them be. Life isn’t about pleasing everybody. Begin today by taking responsibility for your own happiness. You are the only one who can create it. The choice is yours.
8. Never making a difference in the lives of others.
Every person can make a difference, and every person should try.
In life, you get what you put in. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. Do something that’s greater than you – something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less.
Remember, making a positive difference in one person’s life can change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
9. Failing because you were scared to fail.
If your fear of failure, or of not being perfect, has driven you to take the safe road of doing nothing, you have already failed. Accept the fact that everyone fails, but don’t accept the act of not trying as your form of failure.
If you find yourself at a point of intense decision making where you’re caught in a spiral of over-analysis and hesitation, and you’re making no progress, take a deep breath, break the spiral, make an educated guess on the next logical step, and take it. Even if you get it wrong, you will learn something that will help you get it right next time.
Your failures along the road to your goals are simply opportunities to learn and grow. You might not be there yet, but if you keep moving forward, you’ll get there eventually.