Do you have a list of things you want to achieve, places you want to go, and people you want to meet and yet tell yourself it is not a good time right now?
If you do, you are absolutely not alone. In an emotionally charged book titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, a palliative nurse recorded the most common regrets of the dying and their number one regret is not having the courage to live a life true to themselves and not the life others expected of them.
This is not their only regret in life of course but it is their number one regret which is also a common regret for the rest of us.
When we are healthy and running around, we forget that our time on earth is finite and an illness or an accident can take all of that away in a split second.
Whilst bucket lists are great and give people a way to realise their dreams and wishes or to finally pluck up the courage to do the things they wouldn’t do, it simply does not make up for a lifetime of not living authentically.
What does an authentic life mean to you?
Many of us mistake living the life true to ourselves with finding the right career that suits our interests and passion but living an authentic life is much more than that.
An authentic life includes being in a relationship you feel alive in, being friends with people whom you can laugh with, learn from and grow with, doing work (be it your own employment or with a company) that lets you provide real value, both emotional and monetary not just to yourself but to someone else too.
An authentic life means living a lifestyle of your choice that you really enjoy, being in peak health because you chose to do it for yourself and doing things that challenges your own beliefs despite being afraid.
We spend far too much time worried about what people will say or think about us if we dare to pursue our own dreams and we also let others guilt us into living a life they want for us.
We cannot however just blame other people for our lack of achievement, sometimes we have to look within ourselves.
When we take a hard long look at ourselves we might find that we let fears and doubts stop us from achieving our dreams.
Other than fears and doubts, the other factors that stop us from achieving our dreams is not knowing what we really want and not spending enough time on figuring it out.
So with this in mind, how can you start living a life true to yourself starting from today?
1. Take the time today and think about your life and examine it in its entirety.
I know you are busy but so are many other people who are living their dreams.
You have more spare time than you think, make the time to do so on a weekend morning.
Sit down, create some privacy for yourself and think about every part of your life, think about what you have always wanted to do, think about how you are going to do it and then do it.
2. Start believing in what you can do and have faith in what you intend to do.
I believe that you know deep down in your heart and soul what really floats your boat.
However, you let your fears and doubts get the better of you and you think that you cannot do this because you are not capable enough or your mission is not important enough.
You need to put an end to your doubtful demons by reminding yourself that no one starts being an expert by being an expert and you need to start questioning why you do not have faith in your mission.
Perhaps a tweak to your mission is necessary?
3. Stop wasting time on feeling trapped and start embracing the choices you have.
You may have thought at some point that you will NEVER be able to do certain things or lament on being unlucky or stuck because of a situation others put you in or just blame life or your parents for the life you have.
Well, guess what, you need to shift your victim mentality and let go of the past because your life is within your control and there are always choices.
They may not always be fantastic choices but they are your choices to make nonetheless.
4. Start being aware of everything you do.
Do you go through your day on autopilot? How aware are you of the things you do in your daily life?
If you are not aware of what you do, how would you know if you are doing something that makes you happy or unhappy?
It is not enough knowing what you want, truly living an authentic life require you to be clear on what is happening so that you know what works and what doesn’t and make changes where you need it the most.
Remember, these four ways are not your magic pill to success.
Think of this as a philosophy or even a guide to changing your perspective so that you start seeing your life as a pool of opportunities and resource, not as a trap to keep you stuck in your current situation.
Professor Stephen Hawking summed up this spirit eloquently in this quote below:
“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”
Living without regrets is far easier said than done.
Nobody sets out to live a life made up of a mundane series of days strung into weeks, strung into months and years.
Like myself and many others I am sure that you envisioned yourself achieving meaningful goals and living a purposeful life meant for you so what are you waiting for?
Tomorrow may not work out the way you want it to be but what is important is that you take action today.