Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on February 6, 2020

7 Reminders When You’re Making Life Choices

7 Reminders When You’re Making Life Choices

Life is about choices. My life is spent helping people make difficult decisions:

Should I quit and go it alone?

Should I take the promotion, can I really do that?

Should I leave him/her?

Should I travel?

Should I change?

Should I give up?

Should I fight on?

Am I an idiot for wanting this?

Are they right that I should quit?

The list is endless. However, the reminders you need to actually do something different to make your life more harmonious, fun and exciting often are very similar.

Let’s take 7 real client’s stories and explore what we did. These amazing ideas could revolutionize your life too as we look at how to make better life choices and spot the big mistakes that people make so often that detrimentally damage their lives – sometimes for years!

*All the names have been changed and even if the situation doesn’t apply to you, the reminders to enable you to make big decisions definitely will.

Annie

Annie is a high flying very successful businesswoman, she has been used to achieving everything she has ever wanted to and, if she goes for something, she gets it. She is epic and I loved working with Annie. Annie came to me because Annie seemed to have everything.

An awesome career, more money that it was likely she could spend in her lifetime, an amazing life partner, beautiful children, dream home, dream car, dream body, dream holidays (lots of them!) and every designer hanging in her designer wardrobes. She had everything so she must have been mega happy right?

Wrong.

Annie didn’t know why but she felt someone had extinguished the fire in her life. She felt soulless, she felt like she was just going through the motions but couldn’t really remember the last time she had felt so alive and like anything was possible.

Advertising

Originally when we spoke, Annie felt she was having some kind of life crisis and could be bordering on depression. But as I coached her, the reality was very different.

She hated her job. She didn’t just hate it, she loathed it and the look on her face when she realized this was utter shock. “But it’s given me so much,” she said, “how can I hate it?”

Annie’s story gives us reminders that can help you too.

If Annie hadn’t taken the time to step back from her life, I think we could have ended up with someone who was mentally unwell. They were so good at getting on with achieving they’d not stepped back to check that they were even on the right path!

Action For You

Once in a while, wherever you are in life, take the time to either sit with pen and paper or be alone on a walk or somewhere quiet and ask yourself some questions.

Da Vinci reportedly would ask 100’s of questions of himself. Not necessarily answer his own questions but pose them for consideration. I often do this with clients because it enables you to get past the initial surface thoughts to access the deep-rooted ideas that are really causing the issues/obstacles and beliefs that are holding you back.

Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What do I love about my job?
  • What do I love about my life?
  • Do I love living here?
  • Do I feel like I make enough time for me and what do I like to do with my time?
  • If I was to write down the emotions I experience each week, would I describe them as mostly positive, mostly negative or a balance of both? What impacts on that?
  • How do I respond to criticism?
  • Am I good at telling people what I think?
  • What do I feel holds me back?
  • What would I love to achieve but fear doing and why do I feel I fear it?

The more questions you can ask the better. Remember this is not about knowing the answers or answering according to what you know or trust you can do, so be honest with yourself.

Annie also teaches us not to fear changing paths.

Let’s meet Tanya….

Tanya

Tanya had her own business and while it was going pretty well, she wanted more. She also wanted to buy her first house but that was feeling too far away. When her partner left her, she felt like life was falling apart, how could this have happened to her?

When I initially met Tanya, she sounded like a victim. We all go through really tough experiences but, not everyone is resilient enough to learn from it and move on to bigger and better things. Some people let it define them forever more and initially, that’s just how Tanya sounded.

Tanya felt like life was unfair, no life is fair and to hold on to that belief is limiting in so many ways. It stops you from believing you have any control.

While you can’t control everything that happens, you can control many elements. Don’t relinquish all control believing life will happen in one way only – like it was pre-mapped out for you. You get to define who you are and what you want.

Tanya struggled at first to get past this belief. That life had treated her in a bad way because she was only capable of getting what she was getting. Breaking down that deep-rooted belief was not easier, but we did it. How?

Action For You

Challenge yourself to ask if your beliefs serve you well or hinder your success and happiness.

Are your beliefs keeping you comfortably in a comfort zone so that you don’t have to face what it is your fear?

Advertising

Or do your beliefs challenge you to go for things even if you fear them a little?

Challenging Tanya on her beliefs helped her to see, acknowledge and accept what her beliefs were doing to her. Once she could see, acknowledge and accept her beliefs and their impact, then she was in a position to take responsibility for them and change. You can’t change permanently until you go through this process.

This led Tanya to another very important reminder for us all. Changing paths is allowed. If you liked being a teacher or a graphic designer and now want to be a Police Officer or a journalist, that’s fine. It is scary to make changes and choose a different path but to help you actually do this, remember this question:

“If I agree to staying like this, then what am I agreeing to?”

It’s so powerful I use it on myself too!

Often, clients realize with this question that they are agreeing to not getting what they want – and no one wants that, so it’s a great motivator.

You don’t need to know how you are going to achieve it, but you do need to know you want to do it.

Tom

Tom was everyone’s friend. Tom could make a friend just buying a pint of milk, he’s Mr. Likeable. But Tom came to me because he hated who he was. He told me “Everyone thinks I’m great but I feel like a complete imposter.” He was really low and it was impacting his work and home life.

Tom shares a very important reminder to making decisions in life. Tom had been so intent on helping everyone else to feel comfortable and happy around him that he’d forgotten how to be comfortable with who he was. He was so concerned with making everyone happy that he felt he didn’t even know how to be confrontational.

I asked him if he wanted to be confrontational and wasn’t that quite a “full on” term to use? And this enabled Tom to see that having an opinion is not illegal. Even more shocking to him (and Tom is not alone here!) is that you can have an opinion different to other people.

Action For You

If you think you are confident to be yourself and share what you really think, post an unpopular opinion on social media (not an offensive, derogatory comment, just something you don’t like.) I did this recently (I’m happy to connect so that when you give this a go, you can tag me) and asked people to share their unpopular opinions.

Nothing heavy.

I just posted that I don’t like a certain cookery programme that airs here in the UK – The Great British Bake Off. I just don’t get why you’d watch a bunch of people mixing up ingredients to make a cake and then watch 3 hyper critical judges tell you your cake has a soggy bottom. While my post had lots of likes, laughs and loves, not even a quarter of people that liked the post commented. What does this tell you and what has this to do with Tom?

Within a week of that post wherever I went someone would say “I saw that post, my unpopular view is…..” I asked all of these people “Why didn’t you post your view on my post?” To which I heard replies like:

  • “I didn’t want to offend anyone.
  • “I can’t post like you do.”
  • “It’s not appropriate to do that.”
  • “It could damage my reputation.”
  • “You know what people are like.”

Headline news folks, saying you don’t like Christmas jumpers or Elvis is not against the law. While some may not agree with you, ultimately, nice humans accept that with billions of people on the planet, we aren’t going to agree on everything.

Action For You

Ask yourself if you can’t share your dislike for your mate’s favourite TV show, how are you going to have the confidence to tell people about the big decisions you are facing in life?

Tom learned that he had stopped having an opinion on anything, anywhere. Becoming aware of this enabled Tom to work on his confidence and that changed his life.

Advertising

This simple step enabled Tom to not only be honest and share his views, it built his confidence and led to a promotion. Wherever Tom went, he told me people couldn’t get over how happy and confident Tom seemed. What could this reminder do for you?

Maja

Maja didn’t choose to come and have coaching with me, her boss asked her to. At first, Maja was against coaching and kept postponing our sessions. Understandably really, because her boss had told her (and me) that he felt she was amazing and could be on the board of directors despite her young age within 5 years. But her lack of confidence was wrecking her career and he wanted to help her overcome it.

Maja was also a people pleaser like Tom but at least Tom talked to people. Maja couldn’t make eye contact and looked like a frightened mouse wherever she went.

What does confidence have to do with decisions in life? Confidence creates belief in yourself and that creates faith and that creates trust and that creates positive results (even if you get negative results first because you’ve got the confidence, self-belief and trust that you can go on to get better results.)

Building Maja’s confidence did work, and she quickly went from receptionist to company secretary and the last I heard from Maja, her boss was encouraging her to sit in on board meetings in preparation for the future!

So what did we do?

The short answer is we bridged the gap between what she believed to be true and what was actually true. When you lack confidence, you don’t believe the nice things people say about you. Guess what that does to your confidence?

Action For You

Creating a long list of all the things you’ve achieved and that people say about you enables you to learn to trust that information, rather than the negative voices in your head.

If those voices in your head do not inspire, motivate, nurture, love and care for you, then ditch them!

It is not always instant getting rid of those negative voices but, it can be achieved.

Tina

Tina had married young and produced 3 children within 4 years. The children were all working their way through school and Tina had more time on her hands than she really wanted.

In the back of her mind, she had always wanted to run her own business. Something that fitted in around children, that made her feel useful and gave her money. When she told her husband, he’d reacted in the same way to most of her friends. They all felt it was a lot of hassle. She had no skills in running a business, so how would she cope, wouldn’t it be stressful? Would the kids feel neglected?

The list of concerns her loved ones had was long and it undermined her so much she had procrastinated for over 2 years on her idea, until she met me.

Tina was easily influenced by those around her. And stopped listening to herself. Do I think she could have moved forward had it not been for our coaching sessions? No, not really. She put off creating a plan of action because everyone else had a say on her future and she feared putting her ideas into action. And everyone around her could have wrapped her up in their words for years.

Action For You

In my experience, people need to spend less time looking back at what has happened and spend more time planning where they want to go.

We created a long list of everything that could need to be done to set up Tina’s business, then we broke that down into a time line to enable them to see the priorities.

So many people try to get to the end of a to do list not appreciating there will always be something new on the to do list.

Advertising

It’s not about clearing the to do list, it’s about owning it. And to do that, you need to have a clearly defined plan. Consider everything you could do to make that difficult decision or powerful life choice and then, narrow that down to the absolute priorities.

Do not deviate and lastly, only ever have 3 to 5 actions on your to do list. Clear them and you can add the next 3 to 5.

Tina didn’t just set up her own business, it went from kitchen table to her own offices with staff within 2 years! Spend less time looking back and wondering, and more time focusing on what you really want and creating the plan to get you there.

And lastly just to mix it up a bit, meet Kim who I didn’t coach.

Kim

Kim phoned me because life was all over the place. She felt like she was trapped at a cross roads that had turned into a giant hamster wheel that was on fire – a pretty detailed analogy right?

But that’s what they felt. As we chatted about what she wanted to achieve, Kim told me about some of the things that were going on her life – abuse, deaths, divorce, redundancy – it was a long list and would make any decisions tough.

Action For You

I asked Kim this question and I’d love you to ask this question of yourself too;

“Is now the right time to do something new/different?”

This enabled Kim to see that there was not the brain space to work on her future. She was doing well to survive! Learn to know when to take action and when to stop.

I read about 2 Israeli judges who were assessed on their ability to make tough decisions. If the judges received their allotted breaks, then the average number of people that were put forward for parole was on average of what was expected and deemed acceptable. However, if they missed their breaks and had to work through their ability to think, great decisions reduced to zero! 0% of people getting parole because a judge didn’t get a break!

So when you feel overwhelmed, stressed and like life is completely uncontrollable and horrific. Is it really the right time to make decisions?

Take Kim’s example again. I didn’t coach her at that time because I felt she was borderline in need of a counsellor but I did offer to be her friend and confidante. Someone she could just message and say “this happened today” or “today was a good day/bad day.”

Who in your world can you rely on to just be there for you? No opinion, no judgement, not advice. Just to be there.

Find those people now because we all need times when we just purge and don’t learn. Feeling like that is not a bad thing as long as it is cathartic and moves you forward.

Within 6 months, me and Kim did get to work together, but it was when she had the space to talk, take ownership, create a plan of action and have the dedication, motivation and energy to achieve it.

So, always be nice to yourself.

Key Takeaways

No matter what you face in life, these reminders will be able to help you too just like these 7 clients. You’ll make better life choices and find the best possible solution for you. Here’s a recap:

  • Take the time to ask lots of questions.
  • Don’t fear changing paths.
  • Challenge yourself to ask if your beliefs serve you well or hinder your success and happiness.
  • Are your beliefs keeping you comfortably in a comfort zone?
  • Do your beliefs challenge you to go for things even if you fear them?
  • Can you confidently and comfortably share an unpopular opinion?
  • Are you a people pleaser at your own detriment?
  • Create a list of the evidence of all that you’ve achieved and the positives that people say about you.
  • Create a long list of everything you could do, then create a plan of action, create a timeline to ensure you don’t try and take on too much at once. Only have 3 to 5 things on your to do list.
  • Check in with yourself if now is the right time to be thinking and doing something new or different.
  • Remember that sometimes, the best action is inaction.

More Tips for Making Decisions in Life

Featured photo credit: Wil Stewart via unsplash.com

More by this author

Mandie Holgate

International Coach, Best Selling Author & Speaker inspiring people around the world to success.

Why Following Your Passion Is Not Enough to Become Successful judging others Why Constantly Judging Others Is No Good For You 6 Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles That Hold You Back from Success How to Move Forward When You’re Stuck in a Rut How to Make a Positive Change for a Fulfilling Life

Trending in Mental Strength

1 The 5 Most Important Things in Life You’ll Regret Not Pursuing 2 Why Does Life Suck So Bad Sometimes? (And How to Fix It) 3 Why You’re Feeling Empty and How to Fill the Void 4 Feeling Defeated in Life? 9 Ways to Take Back Your Power 5 What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important for Success?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 9, 2020

The 5 Most Important Things in Life You’ll Regret Not Pursuing

The 5 Most Important Things in Life You’ll Regret Not Pursuing

It’s common to think about what the most important things in life are. We all seek to align ourselves with things that truly matter and that will ultimately add to our happiness and fulfillment.

How we set ourselves up to create a life well-lived versus a life half-lived is often more about the regrets we have over the things we failed to do rather than the things we actually did.

We regret more not becoming our ideal selves, or the person we truly wanted to be. We regret living an unfulfilled life. We regret living in fear and not having the courage to focus on the things and people that truly matter most.

What is important in life, really? With that question in mind, we’ll take a look at the things most people regret not pursuing and how to live a life grounded in what really matters

What We Regret Most

“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” -Jeff Bezos

Research has found that people are haunted more by regrets about failing to fulfill their hopes, goals, and aspirations than by regrets about failing to fulfill their duties, obligations, and responsibilities.[1]

Published in Emotion, the researchers surveyed hundreds of participants, making a distinction between the “ideal self” (not achieving goals they had set for themselves, their dreams, and ambitions) and “the ought self” (not meeting the norms and rules they had for themselves or fulfilling their obligations to others). They asked participants to list, name, and categorize their regrets.[2]

Across the different studies, the participants said they experienced regrets concerning their ideal self more often (72% vs. 28%). Furthermore, when asked to name their single biggest regret in life, participants were more likely to mention a regret about not fulfilling their ideal self (76% vs. 24%).

“When we evaluate our lives, we think about whether we’re heading toward our ideal selves, becoming the person we’d like to be. Those are the regrets that are going to stick with you, because they are what you look at through the windshield of life. The ‘ought’ regrets are potholes on the road. Those were problems, but now they’re behind you.” – Tom Gilovich

Let’s ponder a couple of questions:

What is it that you currently regret most about your life?

What do you most not want to regret about your life when your time is up?

Advertising

People regret their inactions more than their actions in the long term. Not falling in love, not hanging out with good friends, and not working toward a healthy body are just a couple of common themes.

Maybe you never started writing that book despite your love for writing. Perhaps you haven’t set up your own dream business because you were afraid of what people would think if you actually tried.

The thing is, taking action is that first step to ensure you avoid regrets. Confidence comes with taking action. Making a commitment to follow through and then having the courage to do it builds the momentum.

If we don’t fearlessly pursue these things, we start blaming ourselves for not taking action and the regret compounds.

The Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

If you are clear on our purpose and priorities in life, you can create the personal power necessary to push through, and take action on the things that matter most.

When you make a decision to focus on the most important things in life, you’ll move from “woulda, coulda, shoulda” to “I lived a life worth living” and “I made a difference.”

To get through the hardest journey, we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping. – Chinese Proverb

Bonnie Ware’s 2012 book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying tells us much about living a life to minimize regrets.[3] Ware spent many years in palliative care, looking after patients who had gone home to die. When she questioned these patients about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, a number of common themes came up.

The five most common themes were, in descending order:

  • I wish I’d had the courage to life a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  • I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I’d stayed in touch with friends.
  • I wish that I’d let myself be happier.

The most common regret, by far, was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself not the life others expected of me.” According to Ware:

“Most people had not honored even half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices that they made, or not made.”

These themes are similar to the ones that came through when Guardian journalist Emma Freud asked the question on Twitter “What is your biggest regret?”[4]

Advertising

Being held back by fear, self-blame and bad choices around love, learning, and loss were the most frequent responses.

The most frequent regrets focused around:

  • Not doing the right thing/being there when someone died
  • Not speaking up
  • Not pursuing higher levels of education
  • Fear of following their dreams
  • Unrequited or non-pursuit of love
  • Self-blame around anxiety
  • Taking too long to make a change

The 5 Most Important Things in Life

Through all of my research, speaking to clients, friends, family and my own self-analysis of regrets in my life, there are 5 core things in your life that you’ll probably regret not pursuing if you don’t do something about them today.

A lot of the other regrets you may have are a by-product of not getting the core things right.

1. Becoming the Best Version of Yourself

We often let doubt and fear hold us back from living a life of purpose and passion. This stops us from constantly growing and becoming a better version of ourselves. We forget to cultivate good health and relationships with family members or practice self-care for better mental health.

We have a number of things we want to do in our lives, yet many of these things never see the light of day. We worry that we don’t have the right information to make the right decision. We’re scared of the changes that could happen in our lives and so take the safe route instead.

This leads to regret, self-blame, and self-doubt. However, it is within us to create that amazing life we want. It means not worrying about what others think or how we will be judged.

Be fully present, surround yourself with the right people that cheer you on, have more fun, and take more risks. No matter how many times you fall you get back up and keep moving forward.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that 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.” –Mark Twain

2. Chasing Your Dreams

If you don’t have clarity on your bigger purpose, dreams, and goals, it’s very easy to get sucked into an unfulfilling routine made up of long hours at work, bland relationships, and unhealthy habits.

There is no growth, change, or transformation in this case. Rather than pursuing your dreams and growing every day, you become stuck.

When you have a clear direction for your life and your priorities are top of mind, you are clearer on the steps you can take to move forward.

Advertising

You are living a life of purposeful, passionate action. You fully trust yourself, so you are willing to take more risks in pursuit of your dreams[5]. Start setting your goals today.

Set goals to achieve the most important things in life.

    3. Not Living Someone Else’s Life

    Comparing yourself to others and living someone else’s life can only lead to bitterness, self-doubt, inaction, and heartache.

    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” –Oscar Wilde

    We should make changes in our life because we want to, rather than because of the actions or reactions of someone else. Stay away from negative environments and negative people that can poison your progress, erode your confidence, and cause self-doubt to creep in. Surround yourself, instead, with lots of people that inspire you.

    Many of us get sucked into living the life that we think a good son or daughter should live, or what our parents expect of us.

    We often make key life and business decisions because we think it’s what will make our parents happy. We believe our happiness is derived through their happiness.

    It’s only later, when we become dissatisfied with our lives, that we start to question whose life we’re really living and if we’re truly focusing on the important things in life.

    4. Starting Tomorrow

    We always think we have more time than we do. In reality, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so the best thing you can do is start making a change today.

    Spending just five minutes now doing something significant, in this present moment, could help you move one step closer to your dreams.

    It could be a decision you make, a conversation you have, something you read, etc. The point is to focus on the present moment.

    For example, if you want to travel more, you can make a plan to save money each month for a big vacation. In the next couple of weeks, look up possible destinations and make an itinerary once you choose one. With each small step, you’ll get closer to achieving your goal, so start today, even if it’s just by creating a plan or timeline.

    Advertising

    You can learn more about creating an action plan here.

    5. Spending Time With Family and Friends

    One of the biggest investments you can make in your life is to free up more of your time to spend with the people that matter most.

    This is often easier said than done. How do you balance your work commitments with being home for dinner with your family or spending more time with your children?

    Long hours at work can cause worry and stress. You’re worried about “not putting the hours in at work” and creating issues with your boss and co-workers, but at the same time your family is also relying on you to be there.

    It’s important to take control of your schedule to ensure you are there for both the everyday and the moments that matter in the hearts and minds of the people closest to you.

    One study of 309,000 people found that “lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%.[6] This is likely because social connection helps us reduce stress hormones and increase feel-good hormones that keep us happy and healthy.

    The most important things in life are often the most important people in your life, so make it a priority to spend time with them.

    Final Thoughts

    Too often, we don’t focus on and spend enough time figuring out how we can live the happy life that we want. This leads to recriminations, self-doubt, blame, and regrets.

    Create clarity around what and who is most important to you and your purpose, and then take the courageous steps to focus only on those things that truly matter.

    That way, you’re far more likely to create a life well-lived, rather than one full of regrets.

    More on Living a Fulfilling Life

    Featured photo credit: Katie Treadway via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next