“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. But you can decide how you’re going to live now,” Joan Baez. I’ve been spending more and more time evaluating what is important to me and how I want to spend my time. I’m still filled with guilt every time I do something I’m not supposed to. Like if I’m working at my 9-5 and some inspiration hits so I take a few minutes to jot down some thoughts. But the truth is, no one has ever policed me and I’ve always been a high performer. So why do I waste time that I have now to feel bad about what I’m doing now? The only way I’m ever going to change myself and my circumstances is by taking action aligned with what I need to be doing. From time to time that means jumping on the inspiration when I need to.
I’ve heard it said that at the end of your life you don’t regret what you did do, you regret what you didn’t do. I used to live in a state of feeling like I constantly needed to be perfect because we only have one shot at this life. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. And then as I started doing some deeper work, I realized that I was disappointing myself more than anyone. I wasn’t embracing things I valued like taking chances and having fun and developing things I wanted to. In spite of preaching it constantly, I missed the point that we each have our own purpose in this world and I spent my time helping others fulfill their purpose instead of recognizing my own.
There is a certain fulfillment and reward in helping others, but the regret from not focusing on your own goals is heavy. We are trained that it is selfish to work on our own things but how on Earth are we to improve anything if we don’t spend time developing what we need to in order to contribute and sustain ourselves? The needs of society as a whole are shifting and we have to shift our expectations as well. It is not selfish to develop personal creativity or personal service in order to provide needed support in a way that is aligned with who you are. End of story.
To circle back to regret, It’s an empty feeling at first, and maybe even a little angering or sad, when you see how much time you’ve spent on someone else’s dream or living to their expectations. The truth is we are all on a clock that we never know when it runs out. And being a society that lives on either end of the spectrum, that can illicit fear and make us selfish that we have to obtain as much as we can with the time we have or it makes us lost. We have to put the meaning into what we do. We have to feel our way through what is right for us. And we aren’t trained to manage our emotions any longer. We aren’t taught to feel and respond to them, we are taught to ignore them or control them. And there is a difference between management and control. Management means you are working with them to guide yourself through. Control means you’re forcing something to behave according to expectations.
So. Live with no regrets. You do not need permission to live your life as you see fit. Live aligned with what matters to you and let the rest fall into place. You are who you are meant to be and the world needs you to be that person as well. Embrace that person and express that identity fully. Don’t waste your time trying to be something you’re not or making others into what they are not. Choose yourself every day because you can either spend your life happy that you’ve attempted to go after your dreams or you can look back and wish you had. The only thing for certain is our time is finite—so make the best of it. And make the most of it.