Regrets fall into two categories:  1.) Missed or mishandled opportunities and 2.), those things we try our hardest to achieve but that we fail at.  Of the two choices, take permission to pat yourself on the back for the effort you put into the second one, because although you may have failed, you tried your hardest and did your best—and that’s all can anyone can truly ask of themselves.

But the first type of regret is different.  That’s where you don’t try your hardest or don’t give opportunities your best shot—and those are the regrets which are far more likely to undermine your self-confidence and self-esteem and make you miserable.

Although you can’t do a whole lot about the opportunities you missed in the past—other than forgive yourself—there is a great deal you can do to ensure that you don’t miss more opportunities in the future and give yourself more regrets.  Here’s what you can do to ensure that you won’t give yourself regrets in the future:

  • Make a list of everything you wish to experience or accomplish before you die, and stay focused on your personal life goals, missions and passions—or re-create them again.  What do you want to accomplish this year?  This month?  This week?  Set some goals and go after them, and quit hoping that they’ll occur on the own.
  • Don’t let your fears stop you from going after what you dream of.  Feel the fear—and then go out and do it anyway.
  • What have you been putting off that you would feel better about if you completed?
  • Become more a participant in life and less an observer.
  • Figure out how to play more and have more fun, and do so on a regular, on-going basis.
  • Ask yourself:  What do I need to do differently in order for the next 20 years ( 10 years, 2 years) to not repeat what I’ve done in the past?
  • Take overall better care of yourself.  Nurture yourself in positive, life-affirming and healthy ways.
  • In the end, it’s your relationships—not your accomplishments or possessions or sports teams—that matter the most in life and which will ultimately bring you the greatest sense of fulfillment and belonging.  Maintain healthy relationships with as many people as you can.  That includes spouses, siblings, parents, children, friends, colleagues and extended family—and reach out to new people.
  • Don’t be numbed out or unconscious.  Don’t indulge alcohol, drugs, food, passivity—things that keep you from experiencing your aliveness, your passions and your vital life forces.
  • Actively look at what you can learn from your mistakes and failures.
  • Watch less TV.  Be more an active participate in your life and less an observer.
  • Exercise.  It will keep you feeling more vital.
  • Embrace what you have, what you are becoming or what gifts life has graced you with.
  • Learn this lesson:  The more love I give, and the more I give of myself, the more “in love” I will feel.  The more passion I offer, the more passion I will generate.
  • Let hope run your life rather than fear.

Why do we have such great ideas about saving the world and often such difficulty in saving ourselves?  Most people go through life never comprehending that life is a do-it-yourself project.  Take control of yourself and your life.  You’ll have fewer regrets later on. 

Has your relationship turned cold and distant? Neil’s book Love, Sex, and Staying Warm can help you rekindle your passion.

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