10 Ways to Avoid Living With Regret

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We often assume that other people’s successes have been easily achieved. They must be incredibly smart or lucky to do such great things, right?

In reality, success is frequently the product of failure. Sheer determination to keep pushing past fears and failures is often the quickest road to success. One of the best examples I can give you is the story of the one and only Colonel Sanders, who bounced from job to job before eventually selling his first restaurant at age 65.

Don’t be embarrassed by failure — embrace it. If you’re not failing at something, you’re not stretching yourself. Spanx founder Sara Blakely’s dad used to ask her regularly, “What did you fail at this week?” The result was that failure didn’t become a taboo for Blakely — it was something to be celebrated. That certainly had something to do with her eventual success in life.

If you don’t take chances, you’ll never find out what you’re capable of. Looking for a new job? Want to get an advanced degree or certification? Do it.

Need more encouragement? Here are 10 tips to help you get out of your own way and live a regret-free life:

1. Recognize the Impact of Inaction

We’re often afraid to make decisions because they feel permanent and we want to avoid making a mistake. However, not taking action is its own decision — one that very often turns out to be a mistake anyway.

2. Be Clear About What You Want

You don’t have to have it all figured out, but some clear direction is key. Know yourself and plan for what you’d like to achieve. Create a vision board or meditation practice to help you focus on obtaining your goals.

3. Ask Yourself What You’re Really Afraid Of

If you know what you really want but you’re not going after it, you need to find out what’s getting in your way. Worrying that you don’t have enough time or the right connections is, more often than not, just an excuse based in fear.

In fact, just about any reason keeping you from going after what you want is likely based in fear. So ask yourself: What am I afraid of? Are you afraid of what others might think? Afraid of your own ability? Whatever the issue, define it, acknowledge it, and work toward overcoming it.

As Mark Twain wrote, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.”

4. Focus on the Future

One way to overcome your fears is to focus on the future. Fears are rooted in the present, so throw yourself into the future. What has your future self accomplished? What does your future self hope you’ll do today? It may sound hokey, but give it a try. Taking yourself out of the present can be very gratifying, and it can give you a clear vision to work toward.

5. Make More Time for Loved Ones

Spend more time at home while you have young kids. Make more of an effort to visit your aging parents. You’ll get just as much out of it as they will. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they regretted spending more time with loved ones, regardless of the impact it may have had on other areas of their life.

6. Recognize the Value of Time

Time is our greatest and most precious asset. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to overlook how valuable time is until we realize we didn’t use it wisely.

Remind yourself daily that whatever time you have is a gift. Spend it in ways that enrich your life and propel you forward.

7. Take Care of Yourself

Personal and work demands can easily take over your entire life. Suddenly, you realize you can’t remember the last time you exercised or ate a healthy meal. Taking care of your body helps you do everything else better. It takes commitment, but you are worth the effort.

8. Let Go of Existing Regrets

It may sound obvious, but you may unknowingly be harboring regret for things that happened, or didn’t happen, long ago. Once this regret gets internalized, it can hold you back from pursuing your goals — which only leads to more regret.

Let go of old resentments and anger. Make amends where you can, but sometimes you may have to accept that a situation will have no resolution. Be willing to let that go, too.

9. Consider the Difference Between Failing and Not Trying

In the present, we often fear failure. In the future, the only thing we regret is not having tried. Coming to terms with that fact that you never put yourself out there is more painful than knowing you went for it and it just didn’t work.

10. Do Things for Others

It has been said that giving to others pays dividends back to the giver. Get involved in a cause you’re passionate about. You might experience so much goodness as a result that your only regret will be you weren’t able to give more.

With a little help and support, you can do whatever you put your mind to. Ask for help when you need it. Share your goals with your friends and support them on their journeys, too. You’ll have nothing to regret if you do.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.

Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.

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Michele Mavi has nearly 15 years of experience as a recruiter, interview coach, and resume writer. She is Atrium Staffing’s resident career expert, as well as director of internal recruiting and content development. She also founded Angel Films, a division of Atrium Staffing focused on the creation of recruiting and training videos.