I’d like to get to the end of this life with no regrets.
Maybe that’s not possible.
I do know that I seek to live in a way that makes that goal a little more attainable. I’ve failed at this often and I’m sure, in spite of my best intentions, I’ll fail again, but it sure doesn’t mean I can’t try.
Imagine if you were told that you had only one week to live. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you spend those precious 10,080 minutes with? Wow, right?
Most of us run through life. We don’t take the time to do what, at the end of our lives, we’ll probably call “important”. We don’t take the time to make the things that truly matter the priority. Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish I could turn back time”? We don’t get to redo what’s in the past. We only get to move forward, so why don’t we use the moments we do have in a way that counts?
These are some off my ideas for a life lived with no regrets:
Pursue Your Dreams
If you dream about doing something, creating something, or being something, pursue it, not at the expense of everything else, but GO FOR IT. If you can, take the job that “speaks to you” instead of the one you “should” take. If you want to climb a mountain (literally or figuratively) do it. If you have an idea, see where it goes. You may not be successful, but you won’t live out your days saying, “what if…?”.
Trust Your Inner Voice
Believe in yourself. Listen to the still, small voice inside you. If you have a nagging feeling that you “should” or “shouldn’t” do something, heed it. I wouldn’t be writing this blog today if I didn’t choose to be open to the inspiration I received, on a beautiful summer morning, that whispered “Peace Full Home”. What has your inner guide been telling you?
Achieve Work/Life Balance
Working long hours is part of so many people’s lives. If you’re a “workaholic”, what are you missing by working instead of living? I wouldn’t have traded anything for the school plays, dance recitals, baseball games and concerts that I had the privilege of attending while my girls where growing up. If you work outside your home, leave it there at the end of your workday. If you work inside your home, try to create a separate space for that. Always remember that your career is not your life.
Spend More Time with Family & Friends
I have a friend, who has become very dear to me. Her husband died suddenly last year. He was only in his fifties. They were truly connected, truly in love, truly a wonderful couple. Do you think that Karen has ANY regrets about the time she spent with Frank? Do you think she wishes she had been doing ANYTHING else? The answer is “NO”. Those years and days and moments have helped sustain her through this new walk. PEOPLE, relationships and connectedness add immeasurable value to our lives. Never underestimate that.
Don’t Worry So Much
Easier said than done of course. Some of the things that I’ve worried about in the past 50+ years have been life or death situations or life-altering circumstances. Sadly, most of the stuff I’ve worried about has been just that….stuff. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks; about what “might have been”; about what others are saying; about all the things you really can’t control. Give it up to God, and then leave it in God’s hands.
Enjoy Your Children’s Youth
As most people who have loved a child can attest, years go very fast. Be the best parent that you can. Enjoy their childhood. Love big. Laugh often. Talk to each other. Play games. Teach them things. Children mimic their parents. What are you telling them about life? Let them know joy because you are full of joy. You’ll turn around one day and they’ll be grown. You don’t get to start over.
Live a Life that Resonates with Your Inner Spirit
Connect with your spirit. Are you living in a way that honors the divine self in you? Are you being true to yourself or are you selling yourself short or selling yourself out? When you look in the mirror can you smile because you KNOW that you are being the best you? Don’t allow anything, or anyone, to take that away from you.
Don’t Be Defined by Cultural Expectations or Gender Roles
Don’t allow your gender or your culture to tell you who you have to be or what you have to do. Remember, less than 100 years ago women didn’t even have the right to vote. Remember too, that it was only 150 years ago that the thirteenth amendment abolished slavery. There are still millions for whom freedom to choose is not possible. If you’re reading this, chances are good you’re not one of them. Define yourself; don’t let someone else do it.
Be Open to Invitations
I have a saying that goes “never turn down an invitation unless it’s inappropriate.” I’ve said it A LOT and I practice it. I’m NOT talking about corporate functions or networking events or serving on one more committee. I’m talking about invitations from another person who wants to spend time with you. How lucky are you that people WANT to do things with you? Some of the most wonderful relationships I have, started because I was open to an invitation.
Stand Up for What You Believe In
Whether it’s standing up to a bully (and bullies can be adults, you know) or speaking out when someone around you says something that you REALLY think is wrong, let your voice be heard. Fight for a cause, be transparent, be confident in what you believe in and be prepared to defend it. Most importantly, stand up for yourself (which means you have to believe in yourself).
Let Others Know How You Feel
This is another one of those “easy to say but not so easy to do” concepts, and one I continually have to work on. When we take a chance and express how we feel and it “falls on deaf ears”, it’s easy to say, “well, that didn’t work, so I’m sure not going to try that again”. “Stuffing it down” can make you physically sick. Let people know how you feel by speaking the truth in love. Take a chance. If it doesn’t work, take another chance. YOU ARE WORTH IT.
Don’t Take Life Too Seriously
Life IS an important matter. I get that. There are plenty of times when we need to be serious; when we need to be diligent and responsible. That doesn’t mean, however, that we need to be in that mode all the time. Learn to recognize when you need to take that position. The rest of the time, go with the flow. Be flexible. Find the humor in a situation. Take a breath and laugh.
Know Who Your Friends Are and Honor Those Relationships
You may have 200 Facebook “friends”, or 300 contacts in your address book, but how many of those folks really KNOW you? I know who my friends (as opposed to acquaintances) are. True friends are the people you can be “real” with. They’re the people who lift you up and believe in you. Stay in touch with these people, do things together, allow yourself to be vulnerable, invest in each other, let them know how important they are to you. I am blessed to walk through this life with TRUE FRIENDS. Thank you, God, for that.
Be in the moment. Turn off the phone; better still, leave the phone behind. One of the most heartbreaking things I see is a family at a restaurant and the parents are either texting or emailing or talking on the phone and the kids are playing with their electronic games. There’s no conversation, there’s no connection. There’s no BEING together. Appreciate the moment. Slow down. Look at each other when you talk. Be present in body, mind and spirit.
Change is inevitable. How we deal with it is up to us. We can’t make time stand still. We can’t always predict when a career will end, our health will decline or someone we love will move on. I know so many people who dread getting older, people who’ve been depressed because they’ve turned 30 or 40 or 50. I say, “bring it on”. I’m here, I’m growing, and I’m evolving. It may not always be easy but try to look at change as an opportunity for growth.
Speak Your Mind
I’m not talking about being a person who believes his/her opinion is the only one that matters, or needing to be the center of attention. What I mean is don’t be afraid to speak out when it’s important; let others know what you think and why. Don’t hold back to “keep the peace” or because you’re afraid of the opinions of others. Living with the resentment of not being heard is bad for your spirit.
Appreciate what you have. Appreciate the people you have in your life. Write it down. Tell people. Thank God.
Live with Less Stuff
The acquisition of things is something that’s highly regarded in our culture. We are amazing consumers. We often even define ourselves by the possessions we have. “Stuff” can weigh you down; it can cause you to feel closed in; it can separate you from life. Give yourself more breathing space by living with fewer possessions.
Fill your life with people, experiences and things that truly make you happy. Don’t sacrifice your happiness for the dreams of another. Don’t hold grudges (grudges sap the happy right out of you). Don’t waste precious time trying to convince people, who have shown you otherwise, that you’re worthwhile. Inside, you KNOW that you matter. Choose to spend life with people who honor and respect you. LAUGH. Choose joy. CHOOSE happiness.
Say, “I Love You”
If you love someone tell him or her. We never know when we leave that person (or hang up the phone) if that’s the last time we’ll see that face or hear that voice. If the people you love aren’t used to you saying those words, it might be weird or uncomfortable for them to hear that. Do it anyway. Don’t ever risk having to live with the regret of not having said, “I love YOU.”
I’m pretty confident that at the end of this life I’m not going to wish I had one more sweater, or worked 200 more hours. I don’t think I’ll regret that I didn’t spend more time on social media or the latest TV show.
I’m going to be proud that I tried to be my best self. I’m going to be grateful for the experiences and love I was blessed to have. I’m going to remember fondly the laughter and joy. I’m going to wish I had one more day to look into a friend’s eyes and have a conversation; one more day to laugh with my husband; one more day to hold my children and grandchildren close and tell them how proud I am of them and how much I love them.
Live with the knowledge that this journey, this life on this planet, is fragile and often fleeting. Live like it’s your last day. Choose what your walk looks like. Choose what you need to change. Choose to laugh more, to love more, to honor the God part of you more. Choose well. Choose with love. Choose to live with no regrets.