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11 Ways to Live a Life With No Regrets

11 Ways to Live a Life With No Regrets

We all hope to live a life with no regrets – but how many of us do?

Ask yourself this question:

If it were all about to end for you tomorrow – if that meteor out there in space is headed right for us, if that drunk doesn’t stop for the red light – would you have regrets at the way it all turned out?

Many of us have known regret. Some regrets are unavoidable, but sometimes they can take over our lives. As Mick Jagger said:

“The past is a great place and I don’t want to erase it or to regret it, but I don’t want to be its prisoner either.”

And what about the regrets we are in the process of creating today?

Let’s look at 11 things we can do right now so that when we write the final chapter on our own personal story, we can make it a happy ending.

1. First, Celebrate Your Failures

It’s really okay to screw up.

Have you ever watched a hurdler in the Olympics? Have you counted how many hurdles the winner knocks over in that 110 metres? About half of them! They don’t even break stride. Because it’s not about running the perfect race and not knocking over any hurdles, it’s about getting across the line.

It’s the same in football: the only guy who ever makes a mistake is the one involved in the play. So don’t ever regret failing – at least you were giving it a shot.

‘I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that’s why I succeed.’ – Michael Jordan.

2. Claim Your LIfe

You’re the one bearing the consequences of your life – but are you the one living it?

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Do you make your decisions based on your dreams and aspirations – or because it’s what your mother wants, what your father expects, what your husband needs?

Are you always afraid of what others might say about you if you live life your way?

One day life will be gone – imagine how you’ll feel if you get to the end of it and never made any of the important decisions in it. This is something you can change today.

“One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead”
–Oscar Wilde

3. Say Yes or No Today to Your Dreams

Do you have a dream? Are you actively pursuing it – or have you left it for ‘one day’?

One Day is the one day that never comes.

So if you want never to have regrets then make the decision here, now, even before you finish reading this post: either say goodbye to your dream or start pursuing it today. That way you will have consciously made the decision to follow it or abandon it. So go for it – or forever be comforted by your reasons not to, then let go.

Then there will be no regrets.

‘Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.’
Sydney J. Harris

 

4. Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up Without You

We need to spend time at work if we’re going to succeed.

But we also have to remember what we’re doing for. Kids are not kids for very long – and if you miss them growing up, you won’t ever get a second chance.

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‘Your children love you, they want to play with you. How long do you think that lasts? Soon Jack may not even want you to come to his games. We have a few special years with our children, when they’re the ones that want us around. After that you’re going to be running after them for a bit of attention. It’s so fast, Peter. It’s a few years, and it’s over. And you are not being careful. And you are missing it.’

– Moira Panning, in “Hook.”

5. Close Doors

Maybe you did have your heart set on playing for the Boston Red Sox if it wasn’t for that stupid motorbike accident when you were 18.

Maybe you did just lose the love of your life and you’ve got good reason to be sitting on the couch with that bottle and that Barry Manilow break-up song playing on a loop.

There are some regrets we just have to live with.

But unless you get out and try again, you’ll never know if there wasn’t something better, will you?

‘When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.’
–Alexander Graham Bell

6. Learn From Your Mistakes, Don’t Regret Them

Have you noticed that people who regret their mistakes also tend to make those same mistakes again and again?

Regretting a mistake is not the same as learning from it.That’s why we repeat them until the lesson sinks in.

‘The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again I’d make all the same mistakes – only sooner.’
Tallulah Bankhead

7. Be Afraid of Being Afraid

Before we make a decision, most of us think: What if?

What if I take that job overseas and I don’t like it, or I don’t like the country? What if I ask that girl out and she says no? What if I fail? What if people laugh at me?

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Then years later we’re bored with our job, and we wished we’d seen more of the world before we had our family. Or we got to a reunion and met that girl we thought was out of our league, and she’s married to someone else, and she tells you she always liked you and never understood why you never asked her out.

The only ‘what if?’ to be scared of is this one: what if you get to the end of your life and realise you’ve wasted it?

‘As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.’
Zachary Scott

8. Stop Thinking You Can Tell God What to Do

Many of our regrets come from life not working out just the way we planned it. We stick with a go-nowhere relationship, with a job that makes us miserable, because hey, we had our fixed our sights on him since high school and also, we always said we’d  be a lawyer one day.

Because we’ve decided that life has to be this way or we won’t be happy.

And we blinker ourselves, losing the chance to be with someone better, to change direction and find a job we actually love.

‘We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.’
— Joseph Campbell

9. No Sage Has Rage

If you’re like me, your comebacks come back half an hour after you need them. But that’s not always such a bad thing. How many times has saying something angry in the heat of the moment burned off a friend, a lover? You can take back a faulty toaster but you can’t ever take back an angry word.

‘Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.’
Ambrose Bierce

10. Don’t Hide Your Feelings

The greatest regret you can have is having someone leave your life forever and you haven’t told them how you really feel.

‘I love you.’
‘Thank you.’
‘I’m sorry.’

Is there someone you would like to say one of these things to? Do it now – you can never possibly know if this is not the last chance you’ll ever have to do it.

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‘The regret of my life is that I have not said ‘I love you’ often enough.’
Yoko Ono

11. And Most of All, Remember – It’s Not Over Yet

Even if you have a barrow-load of regrets right now, do remember one thing.

It’s not over.

No matter how many mistakes you’ve made in your life, you only have to get it right once.

Don’t look at what might have been – keep your eyes on the prize.

“A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams”
–Yiddish Proverb

So now you’ve finished reading this, you have a choice.

You can go back to your busy, busy life and carry on as if nothing has happened.

Or you can call someone up and say what’s on your mind, you can think about going after that job, you can call up that girl, you can start walking that Appalachian trail.

Because if you don’t, you may really regret it later.

A life of no regrets. It could start right here, right now.

‘Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.’

~Steve Jobs

Featured photo credit: Bigstock via bigstock-Happy-group-of-friends-family-43459618.jpg

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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