We’ve all felt regret: the sinking feeling of a missed opportunity. The one who got away, the cross country trip we said no to, and the time we went against our hearts. It’s a heavy feeling, and yet can be a hopeful one to ensure we don’t make the same mistake again.
Here are 23 ways to ensure you live a life of regret, looking back and thinking you missed your shot:
1. Take the safe path others have laid out for you —neglecting the inner voice calling you towards something else. The safe path is the one your parents want for you, even though deep down you know it’s not for you.
2. Push off all of your dreams to ‘someday’ or when life gets less busy. Neither will happen. The great tragedy of ‘someday’ is when you wake up at 76 years old and your entire life flashed by you.
3. Wait to tell others how you really feel —especially those closest to you. You may never get another shot. We often save this until time has passed; instead, love out loud and put yourself on the line.
4. Choose the path society, parents and teachers have told you is acceptable — and going against your heart. Get real now: you didn’t dream of being a lawyer when you were eight years old. You didn’t want to be a doctor. You didn’t want to follow a path designed for others. You had bigger dreams.
5. Never taking the time and energy to reflect and ask yourself what you truly want out of life. While sometimes difficult, answering life’s deepest questions is crucial to ensure we’re not living for the approval of someone else. Spend some time alone and be willing to answer: what do I really want?
6. Thinking any employer is loyal to you. They’re not, and they’ll drop you at a moment’s notice. Come on now! You think these people care about you? You can always find another mediocre job. Take a risk and never look back.
7. Listening to those who gave up on their dreams telling you to “get real” and do the same. Be careful who you take advice from — often, it’s from people who didn’t bet on themselves and are soaked in regret.
8. Ignore the whispers of intuition during the quiet moments of life when the noise has been drowned out. Your intuition is the deepest well of wisdom to live your life by; learn to trust her. She doesn’t care about your logic or excuses.
9. Living conditionally, i.e. waiting for an external marker of success to give yourself permission to live full tilt. You don’t have to wait. You don’t want to put it off. You can be who you want to become right now.
10. Waiting, hoping and praying for someone to discover your talents instead of having the courage to put yourself out there. This is not a strategy. Instead, have the courage to put yourself out there. Launch the YouTube channel. Create the blog. Do it now!
11. Missing the small windows in life to make a committed decision and never, ever look back. In life, we sometimes have the smallest of windows where we know it’s time…and yet, we talk ourselves out of them.
12. Neglecting your health, energy and vitality in exchange for financial gain only to realize you’re missing out on life. There’s nothing worse than waking up and realizing you have to say “no” to life’s adventure because you put your body last.
13. Buying the myth and conveniently packaged illusion of retirement — instead of living right here, right now. There is no oasis. There is no magical land where you do nothing. Whatever you plan on doing when you hit retirement, do it now.
14. Dimming who you really are to please others —and resenting yourself in the process. Remember: you’re the one who has to live with your decisions, and playing small to please others is a great strategy to not like the person in the mirror.
15. Not taking the trip. Not asking him or her out. Not declaring your dreams. Not launching the platform. You know what you have to do. You feel the butterflies in your stomach. Now… do it.
16. Making decisions in your life based on the influence of others who won’t have to live with the consequences. You’re the only one you’ll be with for your entire life. Don’t live for others, start with you. This isn’t selfish… it’s selfless. The world will get more of the real you.
17. Letting the extraordinary things in life become ordinary simply because of the passing of time. It was once a mysterious, passionate relationship. Then, you let time pass and make it ordinary. It doesn’t have to be this way. Don’t let the magic fade.
18. Living your entire life trying to prove others wrong — chasing success out of spite. This may work for a little while, but doesn’t last. And if you do create success, it’s never, ever enough.
19. Always finding reasons to bring yourself down and never truly honoring your inner power and greatness. Celebrate yourself. Self love is the new block. Embrace your weirdness and your flaws. You’re a badass. Act like it.
20. Thinking there will be a ‘perfect’ time to do anything, then waking up decades later realizing it all passed you by. There is no perfect time, as time itself is an illusion we’ve all created. There is right here, right now. What are you going to do about it?
21. Letting others dictate what’s possible for you —and placing yourself in a rigid box of limitations. We all cap ourselves based on other people’s expectations about who we are. Screw that. Light the box on fire and surprise yourself.
22. Living your dreams vicariously through others — sports stars, actors and those on the big stage — but never living yours. Use this energy to pour into yourself and your life. Become the rockstar you look up to.
23. Shutting off the source of imagination and curiosity which keeps you always as a student of the experience of life. Never stop being the inner child looking up at the stars or being obsessed with the small moments in life. This life force is always within you.
Let’s face it: regret is a heavy and empty feeling. But every single day we can choose to eradicate regret and ensure we don’t put it off for another day.
Because that day may never come, and is never guaranteed. The question becomes: what are you going to do about it? Your time is right here, right now.