I don’t use Twitter on a regular basis. But somewhere, between posts of unbelievable stupidity, cute cat and dog videos and the mathematical challenges of Fermat’s Library, a deep thinker posed the question, “If you died today, what would you wish you had done but didn’t?”
It’s one of those questions that sits with you, while you mentally flick through the list of possible regrets. The shoulda, woulda, coulda...or never got around to it. That german exchange back in high school I didn’t go on. But should have because it would have my command of the language so much better. The calling out of that high school bully instead of suffering in silence for years. Learning to sail when I was younger for no other reason than the ocean calms me.
The Oxford Dictionary defines regret as, “a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over an occurrence or something that one has done or failed to do.”
But I wonder... Is the question really about reflecting on what you didn't do, or what didn't happen, what never happened? Or is it about what you haven’t done yet?
The past is a great place and I don’t want to erase it or to regret it, but I don’t want to be its prisoner either. ~ Mick Jagger
It was Steve Jobs, in his speech to the university graduates of Stanford who said, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life … Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”
Being an optimist, I have always held to the philosophy that things happen for a reason. And whilst I don’t always know what that reason is, I try never to regret any choices, or decisions that I make. Since, it was those choices and decisions, made with the knowledge I had at the time, that made me who I am today.
It’s about living in the moment and appreciating the now. I try to look at every situation in a positive light. What could have been worse? How what has happened has helped me. I know I have made mistakes. Heavens knows, plenty of them. But each has shaped me to make better decisions. Or at least know what not to do, if faced with that same situation again.
Top 7 tips
So what are my top 7 tips for living without regret in no order of importance
- Mistakes are opportunities to learn
- Don’t give up - try, try again
- Stay true to yourself - your moral beliefs and core values
- Don’t hold back your feelings but avoid saying things in anger
- Be grateful for all things you CAN do, rather than the things you can’t
- Be kind but not a push over & that includes being kind to yourself - be healthy
- Dream big and live your life your way (not how your friends or parents say you should)
Lucille Ball famously said, “I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done.” So I believe this question, “If you died today, what would you wish you had done but didn’t?”, isn’t about regret at all but about not procrastinating or postponing things, not putting off to tomorrow what you can do today... it’s about taking action. Dust off the Bucket list and stop making excuses as to why you can’t, and start making plans as to how you can.
Getting into action
So what am I putting into action? Here are my first three...
Number one. Since I was little I have always had a dream of writing a book -a children’s book...so I have started to put together a collection of ideas for different stories. Some of these ideas are based on the stories my Dad (now gone 20+ years) made up for my brother and me at bedtime when we were growing up. I like the idea of leaving a legacy of his imagination in the world.
Number two. My teenage desire to learn to sail was given a bit of a push a few years ago when I had the opportunity to do a basic sailing course with some students over a few weekends. Perhaps an unusual move for a 45+ year old woman with a bunch of teenagers but bizarrely appropriate? The main thing this basic course did, apart from raising my street cred with the students, was confirmed my desire to learn more, so now, years later I am enrolling in a competent crew course with the view to do a skipper’s course after that.
And finally ...
No-one wants to be the cause of stress or a burden on family when they get old or pass and let’s face it, making hard decisions around aged care or funerals IS stressful. But I know I can reduce some of that stress on my family by getting myself organised and communicating my wishes. So, I have set up my Anticipate Life account with all my information around my digital presence, subscriptions, what to do with my pets, what I want for aged care, for my Will and my funeral and a bunch more information...to take out some of the guesswork and help with the decision making. And that gives me the peace of mind to get out there and live my life to its fullest without regret. Like the Will, it was something I had been putting off, something I could have regretted - but now I know I won’t.
My final question
What do you wish you had done but haven’t yet? So... what’s stopping you ?