How to Live a Life of No Regrets

I thought we’d start this week’s article off with a little game of name that tune. These lyrics are from a classic song popularized by a musical legend.  Do you know what song these lyrics are from?

“Regrets, I’ve had a few

But then again too few to mention

I did what I had to do

I saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course

Each careful step along the byway

And more, much, much more

I did it, I did it my way”

If you guessed “My Way,” performed by Frank Sinatra, you’re correct.  

Regret can be a really hard thing to live with.  It may not be something we can avoid altogether, but the chance of experiencing regret can be dampened significantly the more authentically we live.

I’ve always thought that one of the heaviest regrets one could experience is getting to the end of your life, and realizing you were chasing all the wrong things.  The song My Way also speaks to this deep personal reflection:

“And now the end is here

And so I face that final curtain

My friend, I’ll make it clear

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’ve lived a life that’s full

I traveled each and every highway

And more, much more

I did it, I did it my way”

Regrets, though, aren’t alway such a bad thing.  They can inspire us to live more intentionally, focus on the now, and make choices that are aligned with who we are.

As I was writing this article, I realized the spirit of this song has strong parallels with another creative work by palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware.  In her Top Five Regrets of the Dying, she shares her discoveries through conversations with people in their final days on earth.

So here they are…the Top Five Regrets of the Dying:

Regret #1: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Doing your life your way is what living authentically is all about.

My book SOAR is a journey into authenticity, and in it I share many ideas for embracing authenticity.  Here is a little excerpt:

“The best thing you can do for yourself and for humanity is to commit to your authentic reality and pour all of your energy into it.  If you’re not passionate about it, don’t do it.  If your heart’s not in it, don’t do it.  If it doesn’t set your soul on fire, don’t do it.  Arrange the pieces so that your life on the outside reflects what you hold in your heart and mind.  If you’ve spent your life wishing you lived in a warmer climate with a mountainous backdrop, pick up and move.  If you’ve spent your life as a homosexual but are scared to live your life out loud, move in the direction of stepping into it.  If you’re stuck in a job that depletes you rather than fuels you, consider a career change.  If you’re struggling with an addiction that you’ve kept hidden from your friends and family, share your story with them.”

Are you living a life that is true to who you are?

Regret #2:  I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

It’s easy to get caught up in the throes of our careers, but it’s important to remember to play at least as hard as you work.  In one of my recent articles I give some ideas for maintaining harmony in our lives.

How do you feel about your current work to play ratio?

Regret #3: I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.

Sometimes the simplest things can be hardest to say.  “I love you.  I’m sorry.  I felt hurt when you said that.  I’m so happy you’re in my life.”

This week, see if you can lean into expressing your feelings more.

Regret #4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Human relationships are what give our life depth, purpose and meaning.

Here is another excerpt from SOAR:

“The Universe fully supports situations that foster connectivity among people and it loves situations that cultivate relationships.  After all, human interactions and relationships give us the forum to bring aspects of ourselves into our awareness and give us the opportunity to evolve.  Connecting with other people is what gives us the opportunity to be vulnerable and transparent, which are portals for accessing and expressing unconditional love.”

Who can you rekindle a friendship with this week?

Regret #5: I wish that I had let myself be happier.

In my book SOAR, I share my reflections on the concept of happiness:

“We’re conditioned to think that happiness is always somewhere else.  Never where we are.  It’s easy to get into the habit of expecting happiness to be ushered in with future events and think things like, “I’ll be happy after I have a place of my own after I graduate” or “I’ll be happy when my kids are older and life is easier,” or “I’ll be happy next year when I get the promotion and the corner office.”  The ubiquitously uncovered truth is that happiness can be found precisely where we are, but we have to choose it.  Happiness is what happens along the way.  It’s the experiences we have.  It’s the people we meet.  It’s the connections we deepen.  It’s the self-awareness we discover.  Happiness is always right here, right now, but we need to find it and choose to cultivate it.

Life-long, sustainable happiness doesn’t come in the form of houses.  It doesn’t come in the form of cars.  It doesn’t come in the form of jewelry.   At the end of the day, it’s all just stuff, and we can’t take any of it with us when we leave this Earth.  During my journey, I came to the realization that relationships alone cannot be the sole source of our happiness.  It comes when we find our own truth and live it out.  It comes when we honor ourselves.  It comes when we honor our authenticity rather than trying to satisfy what other people want for us.”

This week, get really honest with yourself and ask yourself if you’re truly happy.

You’ve probably heard me use the phrase “zoom-out” before, and this week I’m going to ask you to do just that.  Take an intentional departure from being super immersed in day-to-day mode, and reflect on your own life as you use these top 5 regrets as the backdrop.

If you’d like to continue exploring this, grab a time for a call with me here:    

I am so grateful you’re in my life.  You being here allows me to do what truly sets my soul on fire.