If you died in the next 24-hours, what would you regret?
This came to me the other night as I lay in bed. I experienced a pain in my arm and considered going to the emergency room in case it was heart related. I talked myself out of going, which led to morbid thoughts, “What if I drop dead tomorrow because I refused to go to the doctor today?”
Don’t judge me, this is just the way my mind works.
I decided to explore the question. I wrote down all the things I’d regret if my life suddenly ended. Then I asked myself WHY I’d regret these things, and whether I could stop them from remaining regrets (considering I didn’t actually drop dead in 24-hours).
For example, I want to become an accomplished [well-paid] writer; still, I have yet to submit my work for any kind of publishing, or go after serious writing opportunities that move me closer to this goal. If I died, I’d regret that I didn’t do more to realize this dream – and that was no one’s fault but my own.
Obviously, there’ll be regrets you can’t change. I’d like to think these types of regret teach us valuable life lessons and build our strength. They are [often] painful, yet necessary, parts of life. There are also regrets that don’t have to be. These are regrets over things you can still change, if you’re willing to invest the effort — and find solutions to overcome obstacles in your path.
I know I am, how about you?
I encourage you to join me on this journey. Take some time to write down the things you’d regret if you died today. Then, identify which items are lessons (things you can’t change) and which are regrets that don’t have to be (things you can change).
For each lesson, forgive yourself and move on – what’s done is done. Grieve, acknowledge your anger and pain, and find a healthy means of release. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by regrets you can’t change, you’ll only create more regrets.
Group your remaining regrets (things you can change) into short (within one year), medium (within five years), and long (ten or more years) term goals. Then, identify the steps required to accomplish each goal on your list. Break them into sub-tasks that you can accomplish over a period of days and/or weeks and add these to your personal calendar(s) and/or to-do lists with reminders to keep you motivated. Finally, create milestones to help track your progress, and don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments as they come – no matter how small.
Continue this task by asking yourself this question annually, or a few times a year, and updating your list, accordingly. The goal is to get to the point where you have no regrets – at least not the kind you can control. Why live with regrets when we have the power [and life] to change them into non-regrets? I refuse. Do you?