When people look back on their lives, what are some of the most common regrets they have? That is a profound question we need to stop and ask more often. Some people look back and say the biggest mistake they made was to not have children. Others look back and say their biggest regret was about lost time. Whatever the case, it’s important to look at how you are living your life and think about how you can avoid future regrets. Many mistakes we make that lead to regret later in life are avoidable. Here are a few of the most common mistakes you need to stop making now to avoid regrets later on in life.
1. Following someone else’s dream.
The pain of unfulfilled dreams is more severe than that of disappointments. Twenty, 30 or 40 years from now you will not think about how disappointing you were to your parents for not following the career path they chose for you as much as you will regret not pursuing your own true life passions. Do yourself a favor and stop living for other people’s dreams. Live your own life. It is your life after all, isn’t it?
2. Taking your loved ones for granted.
Your kids won’t be kids forever. If you don’t enjoy them when they are young, soon they will be grown-ups and the opportunity will be gone forever. Your parents also won’t live forever. You will be hard pressed to forgive yourself for not telling and showing them how much they meant to you when they are gone. Spend quality time with everyone you love.
3. Pretending to be someone you’re not.
Society expects us to act and do things in certain ways. While it’s easy to succumb to the pressures of society, don’t change so that people will like you. Don’t live your whole life pretending to be someone you aren’t just to fit in. Be yourself. The most admirable and inspiring people in this world are their true selves. When you are yourself, you are comfortable. You attract like-minded people who love you for who you are, and who will help you live the most fulfilling life you can.
4. Burning all your bridges.
As the old adage says, be kind to the people you meet on your way up, because you might need them on your way down. You might not want to hear this, but life is a journey of ups and down. Today you might be riding the waves of success in your personal and professional life, but who knows what tomorrow holds. Don’t burn those bridges in your past that helped you get to where you are now, including past friendships, networks and relationships. You might need them later in life.
5. Telling lies all the time.
Some people tell lies so easily and readily that is has become second nature to them. What these people don’t realize until it is too late is that lies destroy families and relationships, often permanently. True relationships cannot be held together by lies. Tell lies and you will inevitably regret it later in life. Tell the truth and you will never have to look back with remorse and regret for lies told.
6. Forgetting to live in the moment.
Life is fleeting. Don’t get caught up in the mad rush of modern living and forget to enjoy those little moments that make life worth it, such as your baby’s first steps or your daughter’s graduation. Quit working too much and learn to appreciate your surroundings and the people in your life. There is nothing worse than reaching your goals and discovering you don’t know how you got there.
7. Giving up true love.
Love is a big area of regret for many people. Too many times people reject real love because they are scared of it, don’t recognize it, or are too busy pursuing other things. Denying yourself the opportunity to love and be loved is denying yourself the one real thing that can make life worth living. Accept pure love from everyone and give it generously to all. If you are lucky to find true romantic love, cherish it and protect it as fervently as you can. We all come to think about our love experiences decades later. Don’t let this be an area of regret in your life.
8. Denying others happiness.
Do good to all and spread happiness. It adds value to your own life and makes other people truly grateful. When you are old and look back, you will smile and be happy for showing kindness and helping other people be the best they can be. That orphaned child you helped get through school, for example, will come visit you when she is all grown up and it will fill your soul with joy and happiness. In the end, it is not how much money or how many material possessions you have accumulated that count, but how many lives you have touched.
9. Not standing up for yourself and others.
There are many injustices in this world. These injustices continue because not enough of the good guys stand up for what is right. Never stand by and watch passively as an injustice takes place. Stand up for yourself and for others bravely. It is better to die for a good cause, than live for no cause or a bad cause. When you are older, you will take pride that you participated in making the world a better place for all and did not just sit passively as bad things happened around you.
10. Disregarding your health and wellness.
Your health is your life. Never disregard it. Take care of yourself religiously. Eat right and exercise regularly. Don’t be one of those people who only think about their health when there is a problem and they are feeling unwell. You might not get better for you to take better care of your health.
Featured photo credit: Regret/Neil Moralee via flickr.com