Regret can be a terrible thing to live with. Crippling in fact. Sadly, regret is so easy to come by. Let’s put an end to living with any regrets from here on out. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
“In the end..we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.” -Lewis Carroll
We often assume that other people’s success was easily achieved. They must have been incredibly smart or lucky, right? But in reality, success is frequently a product of failure. Sheer determination or an uncanny ability to keep pushing past fears and failures can lead to success. One of the best examples I can give you are the many failed business ventures of the one and only Colonel Sanders. That’s right. The founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken had a string of failed businesses behind him before developing his famous chicken recipe at the age of 65.
Don’t be embarrassed by failure, embrace it. If you’re not failing at something, you’re not stretching yourself. You know that little intimate apparel company called SPANX? Well, founder Sara Blakely’s dad had one regular dinnertime question for her and her brother. “What did you fail at this week?” The result was that failure didn’t become a taboo. It was something to be celebrated and talked about. It was seen as being as normal as brushing your teeth.
If you don’t take chances, you’ll never find out what you’re capable of. Looking for a new job that you’re passionate about? Want to get an advanced degree or certification? Do it.
Need more encouragement? Here are 10 tips to help you get out of your own way so you can avoid living in regret later on.
1. Recognize that inaction has impact.
We’re often afraid to make decisions because they feel permanent and we want to avoid making a mistake.
2. Be clear on what you want.
You don’t have to figure it all out, but some clear direction is key. Know yourself and plan for what you’d like to achieve. Create a vision board or meditation practice around it to help you focus on obtaining your goals.
3. Ask yourself what you’re really afraid of.
If you know what you really want but you’re not going after it, you need to find out what’s getting in your way. Excuses of not having enough time or the right connections aren’t helping you. They’re usually also based in fear. In fact, the root of just about any reason for not going after what you want is. Are you afraid of what your parents will think? Maybe you’re holding yourself to a vision of yourself that’s not your own. Or perhaps you have the support of family but secretly doubt your ability. Whatever the issue, define it, acknowledge it and commit to working towards overcoming it.
We all have fears, but as Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
4. What would your future self be doing in your current position?
Another way to help overcome your fears is to focus on the future. Fears are rooted in the present, which is very real to you. You’re experiencing your fear in real time. Throw yourself into the future. What has your future self accomplished? What does your future self hope you’ll do today? It may sound hokey, but give it a try. Taking yourself out of the present can be very gratifying and can give you a clear vision to work towards.
5. Make more time for your loved ones.
Spend more time at home while you have young kids or make more of an effort to visit aging parents. It could simply mean getting on the phone much more often to connect with those you love. You’ll get just as much out of it as they will. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they regretted a choice to spend more time with loved ones, regardless of the impact it had on other areas of their lives.
6. Start recognizing the value of time.
One of the biggest regrets people report is of having wasted too much time. Time is our greatest and most precious asset. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to overlook how valuable time is until we realize we didn’t use the time we had to the best of our ability. Remind yourself daily, that whatever time you have is a gift. Spend it in ways that enrich and propel you forward rather than in ways that allow you to stay stuck.
7. Take care of yourself.
I’m sure most of us have committed to a healthy diet and exercise plan at some point. However, sometimes personal and work demands take over our entire lives. Suddenly you realize that you can’t remember the last time you exercised with any regularity or took a daily vitamin. Taking care of your body and nutritional health helps you do everything else better. It takes commitment, but you are worth the effort and it’s all within your control.
8. Let go of existing regret.
It may sound obvious, but you may unknowingly be harboring regret for things that happened, or didn’t happen, long ago. This regret gets into your psyche, becoming internalized. It can ultimately hold you back which leads to more regret to deal with. Let go of old resentments and anger. Make amends with those you can, but sometimes you may just have to accept that not all situations will have a resolution and be willing to let it go.
9. Consider the difference between failing and not trying.
In the present, we often fear failure. But in the future, the only thing you’ll regret is not having tried. Coming to terms with never having fully put yourself out there or having always played things too safe will be more painful than knowing you went for it and it just didn’t happen. Sure you can regret things that led to failures, but you’ll know you had the courage to go for it.
10. Do things for others.
Finally, it’s been said that giving to others pays dividends back to the giver. Start getting involved in a cause you’re passionate about. You might just experience so much goodness as a result that your only regret will be that you weren’t able to give more.
With a little help and support, you can do whatever you put your mind to. So ask for help when you need it. Share your goals with your friends and support each other. You’ll have nothing to regret if you do.