Regret is one of the most challenging emotions we face in life. It's particularly difficult because there's nothing you can do about the things you did, or didn't do, in your past. In fact, I find regret more challenging than the fear of failure. The thing I fear most is waking up one day and realizing that I did not live life to the fullest.
There's no question you have regrets too. We all do. I recently came across a TED talk by Jane McGonigal that highlights the most common regrets of the dying. It was helpful to see those regrets, and to consider the things I'm currently doing, or not doing, that might lead to regret in the future.
You can do the same. Below is a list of major regrets that people often experience later in life. Use this list to examine your own life and then make changes that will help you live a life you won't regret.
I wish I'd taken more chances
Fear of failure is a compelling reason to stick with the status quo and avoid taking chances. Ironically, it's also the very thing that many regret most--the risks they did not take.
How does this apply to your life? Do you regret a time when you didn't ask someone out for a date, start a business, break up with a partner or make a career jump? Whatever the experience, let it be a reminder to you the next time you feel fear dictating your decisions. Remember, sometimes the hardest decisions are the ones we need most.
I wish I had let myself be happier
In many cases, you are the biggest hindrance to your happiness. By choosing to remain attached to negativity or self-limiting beliefs, you can get stuck in a mindset that does not allow you to be happy.
When you tie success to a certain outcome, you're giving someone else, or something else, your power to be happy. Let go of the story that you don't deserve to be happy or that you can't be happy until something else happens. It's not easy, yet letting go of those definitions will free you to be happy no matter your circumstances.
I wish I'd had the courage to express my true self
We live much of our lives in a state of constant comparison, afraid of being our true selves or expressing our real desires. Some of us have tried to fake it for so long that we forget who we really are.
Before I became an entrepreneur, I spent years as a financial planner, taking the safe route while ignoring my true calling. Now I'm a tech founder and happier than ever. As Steve Jobs said, "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."
I wish I'd had more fun
Though much of our society is obsessed with "the hustle," you'll regret it later if you don't make space for some fun now. Fun is not just good for the soul, it's also good for your business. It reduces stress and negativity and allows your brain to reset and recover. Make time for the things you enjoy most--traveling, exercising, dancing, going out.
I wish I'd traveled more
It's rare to hear people say they've taken too many amazing trips. You're much more likely to hear, "maybe next year," as the chance to see the world gets put on the shelf.
Sure, you can travel after you've sold the business (if you ever do), but then you miss some of the value in it. Your worldview changes as you age. Traveling while you're young helps you see the world and your life in a whole new way, which can add so much valuable perspective as you get older.
I've been fortunate to visit dozens of countries and it's changed me in ways I could never have imagined. Traveling early in life also alleviated my fear of missing out when I was working 90 hours a week while starting SkyBell.
There is no blueprint for life, and that's how it should be. At the end of the day, you are the one who decides how you will spend your time and what kind of life you will create. Let the future be your guide. Consider the common regrets discussed in this article, then take the necessary action to live your life to the fullest, right now.