As a life and motivation coach, I work with many wonderful clients, some of whom have reached a crossroad in their lives and experience feelings of regret and wasted opportunity. I worked with a man who worked so hard to build up a career and to the outside world he appeared to have it all. Nice house, big car, wife and children, member of a golf club. The trouble was he did not seem to be happy and his relationship with his loved ones was poor. He had little time for the really important things in his life. He talked about all the things that he would do when he retired and the places to visit and the hobbies to develop. He mentioned that cruise, the visit to China and taking his children to the football. Everything was based on the idea that, one day he would do all these things. The trouble was that he was still a young man, and before long his children would be up and away. We worked together on ‘work- life’ balance to think about the ‘moment’. He needed to think about today and being happy today.
It is never too late to make that positive change. So what are the most common ‘regrets’ mentioned by people?
- Not travelling more and seeing more of the world.
- Not spending more time with loved ones, especially watching the children grow and develop. 35% of those over 55 mentioned this.
- Not keeping in touch with more friends
- Not looking after your body by eating unhealthily, starting to smoke, taking little exercise and drinking too much.
- Not asking parents and grandparents more about their lives before they died.
- Not working harder at school and a poor choice of career.
How do you feel about this list? I believe that life is for living and it can start anytime, even today! Make up your own list of regrets and reflect on it. Make a commitment today to do something about it. You need to make big plans which can then be broken down into smaller action points. Life is for living. Rather than think about all the things you want to do, make a positive change and start to think about the things that you recognise as being important to your happiness. Take control and learn how to have more fun, less work and fulfilling relationships.
So what went wrong? 34% of those surveyed said that a lack of money had scuppered their dreams, and 24% blamed ‘loved ones’ including parents, partners and family for holding them back. But of course it is not about blame. A friend regrets giving up a house that she and her husband built from a bare plot. They put all their energy and money into it, ending up physically exhausted and hating the house because of the stresses associated with it. After one month in their dream house they sold it. She regrets that decision some 40 years later. ‘If only I had….’ With mindfulness, instead of re running the past, you can accept that there is sadness but you can change and move away from that way of operating. Neuro-science research indicates that Mindfulness, a form of meditation now accepted within the NHS, Mental Health and by motivational therapists like myself, shows that you can change the physiology of how your brain works. There can be real life changing events to set you on a new path.