In this second installment of our Secrets of Success Series, we’ll be discussing what it means to leave no regrets. While it may sound somewhat self-explanatory, what does this concept look like in your life?

Now that you’ve set some goals (see Follow Your Heart, Secrets of Success Series, Part 1), you have some focus, some direction. Now it is time to put aside fear and achieve your dreams. With no regrets. This means taking some risks.

It is often said that those who come to the end of their lives never say their biggest regret is that they didn’t spend more time at the office. Their biggest regret, instead, is saying, “I wish I had...” Take a moment to consider what you will wish you had done if you found yourself at the end of your life in ten years? Five years? Five weeks?

I had an experience just this week that illustrated this concept for me. I’d been suffering with an unusually chronic migraine headache that lasted for about 8 days. As the days wore on and the headache ceased to subside on its own, I began to entertain irrational ideas of what might be causing the pain, including the possibility of a bleed in my brain (can you say hypochondriac?).

On day 7, as I was getting ready for bed, the thought occurred to me, “what if I don’t wake up in the morning?” Immediately and completely instinctively, I wanted to wake up my two young daughters and spend that time with them, telling them how much I love them, just being with them and leaving loving memories of my last moments, should I not wake up. It didn’t matter that it was way past their bedtimes - nothing mattered except my desire to see them and let them see how much I care about them.

Now, while this was a bit over the top, the underlying fear was not irrational at all. Facing what could have been the end brought up an intense need for me to strengthen my relationships. It never crossed my mind that I should get the rest of my pending work done, or clean up the kitchen before I risked going to sleep for the last time. Obviously, I did wake up the next morning, and the headache is now gone. But the lesson is lasting, and I hope to never forget it.

Put yourself in a similar scenario. What comes to mind about how you would spend your last few hours, if you knew the end was imminent? When you live your life leaving no regrets, you will find yourself facing choices - some will be life altering, some will only affect your immediate future, but you will understand that all of them matter. Leaving no regrets means taking a risk and having faith that, if you take the chance, you can achieve your dreams, all the while realizing that there is a chance that the worst case scenario could happen instead.

We suggest you practice this process as you learn to integrate this into your daily life. First, identify the choice you’re facing - what is the best possible outcome? What is the worst, and if that occurs, can you live with it? If you can, go ahead and take the risk. The key is keeping your mind focused on the best possible outcome, not the worst. Unfortunately, we tend to do just the opposite, and that is where we get stuck. The fear can be paralyzing, and we find ourselves with regret.

Try this with the “smaller” choices in your life today. As you get better at it, employ this strategy with the larger decisions. Take some risk, believe that you will achieve your dreams, and leave no regrets!


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