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16 Things You Need to Do To Live Life Without Regrets

16 Things You Need to Do To Live Life Without Regrets

One of my favorite business books, The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together by John Carlton, recounts the story of a memorable scene Carlton witnessed at the San Francisco airport. Here’s what happened:

Most flights were being canceled because of a big storm that had hit, but one stressed out business traveler insisted that he needed to get to his destination. He snarled and screamed and cussed at the poor airline worker until his face turned red … and then suddenly he fell to the floor clutching his chest. He had a heart attack and died on the spot.

The point of this unfortunate story is, this man surely regretted his behavior in these final moments in life. We all work ourselves up about trivial inconveniences when there are so many good things in life we should be focusing on instead.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” If you want to live a life without regrets, here are 16 things you can do to help you starting right now.

Find your life’s purpose.

Finding your life purpose may seem like a tall order. But here’s the thing: it’s already within you. Trust that you’re on the right path. And think about what makes you happiest in life–the things that tug at your heart and make you feel. As Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.

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Stop playing the victim.

Here’s a harsh truth for you: life isn’t fair. It will knock you down when you least expect it and leave you lying in the gutter to fend for yourself. You can choose to be a victim of circumstance or you can get back up and keep going. It’s that simple.

Don’t make excuses.

Guess what else people who play the victim do a whole lot of? Make excuses. Don’t be that guy/girl. Take responsibility for your actions. Stop self-handicapping yourself.

Don’t waste time.

Time is your most valuable asset. Don’t waste it. One of the biggest regrets people have when it’s all said and done is how they spent their time. If you want to live without regrets, start asking yourself this one simple question often: is this the best use of my time?

Step out of your comfort zone.

To live without regrets, you need to be bold and take risks. No-one achieves greatness by sitting back and playing it safe.

Cut the fat.

This may be a tough pill to swallow, but there are people in your life who are holding you back. Choose to spend most of your time with positive people. Negative folks will only bring you down.

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Visualize.

What you think becomes your reality. Creative visualization is one of the most effective techniques for harnessing the power of your mind. You possess an amazing gift — the ability to create using your brain. Use it.

Make time for family and friends.

Relationships are one of the keys to happiness. In the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, one of the top regrets people had was not staying in touch with friends. To live a life without regrets, spend more time with people you love.

Live in the present.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, and today is a gift … that’s why it’s called “The Present.” Enough said.

Ask questions.

Assumptions are the most dangerous thing in the world. Don’t assume. Ask.

Do what you love.

I talk to people all the time who are “stuck” in jobs they hate. If this is you, do something about it. Start a side gig working on a project you’re passionate about. If you’re still struggling to figure out what to do with your life, these 7 questions will help.

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Take care of yourself.

Your health is a gift. So do yourself a favor and start eating real food instead of the processed, fake junk. And get up and move. Sitting too much can literally kill you.

Never stop learning.

One of the “secrets” to living a life without regrets is to learn as much as you can about everything you can. You’ll find wisdom in the most unlikely of places if you’re just willing to look.

Go out of your way to help others.

Helping other people get what they want is the key to getting what you want. The world doesn’t revolve around you or me. Make the world a better place for others and the universe will reward you back.

Focus on the little things.

One of my favorite quotes is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who said:

The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.

Take small steps every day toward achieving your goals. These “little things” will compound into monumental achievements if you keep repeating them.

Believe that the path you’re on is the right one.

At the end of my favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmund Dantes (The Count) says one of the most memorable lines in literary history: “All human wisdom is contained in these two words: ‘wait’ and ‘hope.'”

If you think and hope you’re meant for something bigger, then you probably are.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via flickr.com

More by this author

Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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