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Living a No Regret Life

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Youth provides an excellent opportunity.  The chance to plot a course over time, that will provide the satisfaction of knowing that you have achieved all that you have set out to do despite the currents in life that tend to draw us off course.

Now a senior citizen in retirement, I wish I could say that I have no regrets.   Indeed, truth be told, I have many.  As I reflect back upon life, here are some things I would have done differently.

1. Set tangible, realistic goals.  

I’m sure you’ve heard this before.  Someone has aptly said that if you set no goals in life, life will set them for you.  The majority of people have no life goals.  They wander aimlessly, hoping for the best and frustrated by the outcome.  Learn to set goals for yourself. Stick to them and adjust as necessary.  They are a key to living a satisfied life. When you reach your golden years, “I wish I would have,” should not be your mantra.

2. Don’t underestimate yourself.

This is one of my largest regrets.  Underestimating my potential, settling for less and thinking, “I don’t have the ability to do that” or “I’m not smart enough.”  These are lies that cultivate the “I wish I would have” mantra.  The truth is that you are capable of much more that you realize.   Find your strengths, capitalize upon them and THINK BIG.

3. Discipline Yourself

No one likes to be disciplined yet everyone admires those who are.

For most people, resolutions don’t work because they haven’t addressed the core of the problem.  You can’t change who you are.  You were created this way.  However, you can overcome human tendencies of compromise that feed into mediocrity.  Excuses such as the following are typical examples for leading an undisciplined life:  “I can’t train to run a 5K race,”  “I’ve tried to diet but it doesn’t work for me.”  The problem is not lack of stamina, temptation or any other excuse.  Developing discipline involves life change.  About a year ago, my wife, daughter and I switched to a Paleo diet.  A year later, overcoming obstacles (including no sugary desserts!) has made this a lifestyle change that is very beneficial.  And so it is with discipline.  It begins with a determination that continues despite the hurdles, roadblocks and temptations. Eventually it transforms into a lifestyle.  Remember, no one likes to be disciplined yet everyone admires those who are.

4. Be a leader

Yes it is true. There are times where you will have to lead.  (For you introverts, sorry, it is unavoidable.)  I’ve mentally kicked myself many times for stepping in when no one else volunteered to lead.  But, I’ve come to realize that leadership benefits others.  For this reason alone, don’t flee from leadership, embrace it.

5. Commit to establishing and maintaining relationships

Life is all about relationships.  My brother was a school teacher who died much too early in life.   His funeral procession was one of the biggest I have ever experienced.  He took time to honor others and established committed, meaningful relationships.  I was listening to a major league baseball manager talk about this the other day.  He said that fellow teammates respect a player’s character more than their abilities.   The one lasting legacy that you will have is how others remember you through the relationships you have established. 

Life is short.  Ask yourself if you are laying a foundation for a life of no regrets. I can’t turn the clock back for a do-over.  What I can do is act on the lessons I have learned moving forward.   For all of us, the time to act is now.