A life of regret is no life at all. Sure, we all have regrets for things we've done, mistakes made and opportunities lost. But if we make a conscious decision every day to minimize those regrets, we will lead a happier more fulfilling life. And hopefully those around us will as well.
These sixteen ways to live a happier more fulfilling life come from my past and present experiences from getting it right, as well as getting it wrong. They are delivered in no particular order.
Prioritize your time wisely.
As we all know, life moves at the speed of light. Time is our most precious asset. Wake up each day with a plan to accomplish something meaningful. Something you will feel good about when you turn out the light that night.
Build relationships over possessions.
You won't be taking your possessions with you nor are they a meaningful source of lasting happiness. The relationships you build and the lives you impact will be your legacy.
Take what you can from life, but always give back.
There is nothing wrong with investing in yourself and your future. For pursuing success in all areas of your life. But one of the best ways to seek happiness is through service to others. Remember that giving time is more valuable than giving money.
Be accountable for your words and actions.
Accountability is the path to true accomplishment. Personal accountability is infectious and others in your life will follow suit. Always consider the consequences of your words and actions. Not doing so can be a fast track to regret.
Be disciplined in your personal and professional life.
Being accountable requires discipline. Discipline is the only way to discover your best personal self: the cross section between purpose, talent and effort. Discipline leads to accomplishing goals and avoiding bad decisions.
Expunge hate from your heart.
Life is too short. This too requires discipline. Hate will consume you, exhaust you and distract from the positive aspects of your life. Put your ego aside and replace it with humility.
Forgive yourself and others quickly.
We all make mistakes, hurt those we love and meander off the path of righteousness at times. The faster we forgive ourselves and others the more time and energy we have for love.
Put your family first.
Your family relies on you to be strong, to lead, mentor and provide for them. Making time for work and hobbies is important, but every now and then we need to remember that making more money or the extra round of golf can wait.
Find purpose in your life's work.
Without purpose it's hard to truly be passionate. And without passion it's impossible to inspire and lead others. Living a purpose-driven life is the foundation of fulfillment and happiness. Find your purpose and pursue it relentlessly.
Chase your dreams and never quit.
As a former Navy SEAL, the never-quit attitude is ingrained in me forever. Just make sure you are pursuing the right "dreams" that will add value to your life and others. Dreams that are aligned with your purpose.
Pursue passions bigger than yourself.
If we don't break outside our comfort zones and find pursuits that leave a positive impact on the world, we live a very small life.
Don't hold on too tight.
I often find this very hard to do, but sometimes we just have to let go and have a little faith. There are things simply out of our control and we can drive ourselves crazy trying to contain them.
Lead by example on and off the battlefield.
We all have the opportunity to lead in our lives. At home, work, in our communities. But leadership requires consistency of character. Actions speak louder than words.
Protect those who can't protect themselves.
This doesn't mean we all have to grab a weapon and head down range. It can come in the form of a simple gesture. Don't stand on the sidelines with your smart phone. Do something.
Strive to improve a little bit every day.
If we can attempt to improve ourselves even 1% each day, at the end of a year we will be 37x better than when we started. Improvement requires regular learning, feedback and reflection. But don't forget to take action as well.
Leave no regrets on the battlefield of life.
As Tecumseh said in his poem "Death Song":
"When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear death, so that they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."
Take a few minutes each day to reflect on how to practice these tips and see what happens!