One of the most difficult things to deal with in life is regret. In fact, regret is the most frequently mentioned emotion, right after love.
There’s the normal type of regret. Maybe you said something or did something and in hindsight you wish you would have done things differently. I think most everyone has this type of introspection and regret.
But there is a worst kind of regret. What could be worse?
Regret that stems from the chances you didn’t take. The decisions you waited too long to make. The things you didn’t even try when you had the chance.
And even worse – those important actions that you didn’t take, that could have led to a better life in the future.
I would imagine that getting to the end of your life and realizing you have major regrets is one of the most difficult feelings to ever experience. Yet, most people do reach the end of their life with a ton of regrets.
But there’s good news – it’s not too late. You still have a chance to do what you might have done, and be what you might have been. Right now you have an opportunity to change course. So take this opportunity and the steps below to set yourself up for a life with no regrets.
Step 1. Commit. One of the most significant differences between the unsuccessful and the successful is the nature of their commitment. Successful people often pursue their goals with an unwavering, iron-willed perseverance. They recognize that to get to where they must be, they have to keep going long after most people give up and quit. Remember, the more choices you have, the more regret you’ll have about what you chose. Pick one path to success and commit to it until you’ve reached the finish line.
Step 2. Challenge yourself to learn more. Complacency is antithetical to success. For the successful, a day is wasted if they haven’t learned anything new. This doesn’t necessarily mean formal learning – some of the most innovative people don’t even have a bachelor’s degree. Rather, they’re constantly reading, learning from others around them and also learning from their own mistakes. Once a month, go to lunch with someone who knows more about success than you do – you are never too old, too smart or too successful to learn more.
Step 3. Don’t play the odds. Never let the odds keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart you were meant to do. Successful people never calculate probabilities, even if the chances are one in a million. One chance is all you need to win.
Step 4. Take care of yourself. You are the only person who can achieve the goals you have. Successful people have internalized this and know the importance of taking care of themselves. Among the very successful, you’ll find devout proponents of fitness, sleep, and reading.
Step 5. Have confidence. If you’re going to achieve your goals, you have to be confident that what you’re doing is right. Successful people don’t have time to be self-conscious. If you want to be very successful, you have to believe in yourself – after all, if you can’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Successful people are self-driven and don’t hold themselves back with excuses. They learn from their mistakes and aim to be the best they can be.
Step 6. Get uncomfortable. Ships are safest in the harbor but that’s not what ships were made for. And you weren’t made to sit in your comfort zone either: Not trying for fear of failing. Not trying because you didn’t know where to start. Not trying because doing so would make you feel uncomfortable. Remember, winners do what losers don’t want to do. You can’t relax yourself into happiness. Happiness comes from doing.
Step 7. Think long term happiness. Happiness is a choice, yet so many are unhappy later in life. There are many reasons, but it all boils down to one simple principle: They often chose something else in the near term, over happiness in the longer term. For example, instead of doing things today that will result in long term happiness they lazily follow the path of least resistance today and refuse to change. The people that do this are planting the seeds of regret. Do what’s difficult today, so that you can be happy in the future.
Step 8. Take the first step. Know this – the greatest achievement in your life will not be that you finished, it will be that you had the courage to begin. The feeling you get from taking the first step is far better than the feeling you get from just sitting around thinking about it. Get up and get moving. Take the first step today – just one small step forward on that goal that will change your life forever.
Step 9. Take the next step. Your future depends on what you do right now. Challenge yourself to be who you know you are capable of being. Challenge yourself to take the second step, and the third, and so on. Remember Newton’s first law of motion – an object in motion stays in motion. Stay in motion and before you know it, you’ll be there.
Your future depends on what you do right now.
Mark Twain said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Sail away from your safe harbor, because the harbor is where regrets are built.
Be free. Nothing else is worth it.