YOUR LIFE WITHOUT REGRETS
written by Barbara P
I vividly remember the day that reinforced to me that I needed to find a way to live my life with as few regrets as possible.
It was the day my Dad passed away. I hadn’t “gotten around” to asking him about our family history. I knew some basics, but not nearly as much as I wanted. Among other things, my Dad owned an apartment complex. It never even dawned on me to ask where he got the name for it. It was only when I took a trip to where he grew up and saw an historic sign that I realized that was where he got the name. I regretted not getting the full story from him…one that I could pass on to my children.
And so I learned rule #1 for living a life with no regrets…don’t wait, find a way to make time for whatever it is you want to do because if you don’t, one day you’ll probably look back and say “what if I had… (fill in the blank) or “why didn’t I…(fill in the blank).”
At that point, I sat down and created my bucket list of things I wanted to do, see, accomplish, etc. I still have that list…albeit a bit dog eared! To this day, when I think of something I want to do, it goes on the list. When I’ve done it, I check it off.
These are not necessarily complicated things…some are pretty darn easy, but if I hadn’t written them down, I wouldn’t have done them. To give you a more concrete idea, one of the things on my list that I accomplished was learning photography…and now I’m hooked. Everywhere I go, I carry my camera and I’ve gotten some amazing shots of people, animals and architecture. Some of those pictures now hang in my home.
Other items on my list that I’ve been able to check off included travelling to Thailand to learn first hand about Buddhism, taking a cooking class with a master chef, and starting a writing business after I retired from advertising.
One of the greatest things for me about living my life with as few regrets as possible has been learning what that kind of freedom, the freedom to act on my instincts, has brought me. I used to think and think and think about something…all the “what ifs” ran around in my head, and usually, the longer I put something off, the less like it was that I did it.
Living your life without regret takes a lot of courage…the courage to work harder than you ever thought you could work for what you want and the courage to fail if it doesn’t succeed.
One of the things on my bucket list was to become a real estate investor. I did. I envisioned myself buying properties to renovate and sell at a profit. Long story short, I bought a couple of really dilapidated row homes and renovated them. They were beautiful. They also didn’t sell because just at that time, the real estate bust hit. I was stuck with them. I tried being a landlord for a while, but that didn’t work, so I gave the deeds back to the bank in lieu of foreclosure. Yes, I failed at this venture and I lost money but, if I hadn’t tried it, I would be full of regret, still wondering “why didn’t I…”
I can’t remember where I read this, but it’s so true. Don’t live your life with a bunch of “I shouldas” running around in your head.
And that went not only for my professional life, but my personal life as well. I have so many friends who are in unhappy marriages, marriages they’ve stayed in because they’re afraid of the alternative…being alone, hurting for a bit, etc.…so they’d rather stay and suffer.
I couldn’t do that. If I’m not happy and content in a relationship, it impacts the rest of my life, how I am with my kids, how I perform my work. I’m not advocating “cut and run” at the first opportunity, but if you’ve explored your options and are still unhappy, don’t wait years while regret piles on regret…do something about it.
learn more about being happy……click me
Have I made bad decisions in my life? You betcha. But, rather than sweep them under the carpet, I’ve used them as learning opportunities, to make me smarter and better person.
I, for one, never want these words on my gravestone: “could have, would have, should have.” Now that would be sad.No regrets!
I hope you’ll join me in eradicating those words from your vocabulary.