The other day I ran across a video posted on social media: A man wearing a backpack stood in the middle of a valley flanked by snow-capped mountains. Animated clips flashed on the screen, emphasizing his impassioned plea to live your dream—your purpose—now. He talked about how people on their death beds are less likely to regret the things they did in life as opposed to those they didn’t.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 22 or 92; it’s only too late when you entertain regrets of the ‘could’ve, would’ve, should’ve’ variety. Here are 10 tips to help you pursue your passion regret free:
- Start where you are. Every day is a new beginning—a clean slate to embrace in all its quirky imperfections. As the narrator of the video stated: “You cannot start over, but you can start now and make a brand new ending.”
- No right way. There is no magic formula for getting from point A to point B. Your mantra might be ‘trial and error’ or ‘go with the flow.’ Modify as needed.
- Quit comparing. Joseph Campbell writes: “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” You’ve heard the saying: Life would be boring if everyone was the same. Now live like you believe it.
- Life doesn’t stop. Stuff happens. Appliances break down, illness and injuries occur and sometimes bad news arrives in threes. Do what needs to be done and then see #1.
- Change of scenery. At times it may be necessary to step out of your comfort zone in order to follow your dreams. This might include changing a routine or your surroundings. Be open to the possibilities.
- Have fun. Oscar Wilde writes: “Life is too short to be taken seriously.” Laughter provides a balm to the soul and lightens the load. Lift the corners of your lips often.
- Refuse to fear. Jack Canfield says: “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” If fears are stories you tell yourself, then change your story.
- Remove distractions. Shut down when necessary; i.e., disengage from social media, email, etc. The world will not stop when you go off the grid to pursue your passion.
- Prioritize. Each day tackle the easiest, fastest tasks first. Then dive into your pursuit and camp out there as long as it takes. The piles of dirty laundry aren’t going anywhere.
- Delegate, ask for help. It’s okay to say ‘no,’ or to pass the buck, in order to create space to chase your passion, which is the one thing no one else can do for you.
The narrator in the video closes by illustrating how a plane is less safe when on the ground because it’s prone to rust and deterioration. When you don’t live your dream—your purpose—you clip your wings and ultimately remain grounded, much like that plane. Mired in regret. But when you put wings on your passion, you begin to take flight.
John Greenleaf Whittier states it best: “For of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, it might have been.”
What’s your advice to avoid the ‘could’ve, would’ve, should’ve’ mentality?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
For almost a year now, I’ve been an avid student of Bikram Yoga—a system of yoga that Bikram Choudhury developed from traditional hatha yoga techniques, including 26 postures and two breathing exercises in a room preset to 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. Four walls, a mat, a towel and my flawed reflection for 90 minutes of moving meditation.
Although Bikram’s studios are often referred to as torture chambers, the hot room has become my own restorative chamber of sorts. Physically and mentally, it’s done more for me than any doctor I’ve seen or medication I’ve been prescribed to date. Both spiritually and emotionally, I’ve found a deeper level of peace. And, practically, it’s taught me a few things about writing.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- Show up. This is the hardest part about writing. If I do that, the rest is easy.
- Stay present in the room. This is the second hardest part, in my opinion. Every time I remain in the room when I’m uncomfortable—my humanness exposed—I’m training my mind to adapt to situations beyond my control.
- Focus on the breath. When, not if, the fight-or-flight response kicks in, I try to remember to breathe in and breathe out. Additionally, meditation—repeating a mantra or imagining my Someday beach home—helps me to avoid potentially missing out on that epiphany I’ve been waiting for.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Although it’s nothing new, the grass is greener where I water it. It’s called research. As the famous doctor (Seuss) once said: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” —even if it’s simply on paper.
- No one can steal your peace. Make your writing space conducive—to writing.
- Mind over the matter. There’s no such thing as a true writer’s block. Just saying.
- Remove expectations. Each time I show up at my pad and paper or laptop, I’m a different person. I may be surviving on little sleep, worried about a situation outside of my power or I’m in total rock-star, can’t-do-anything-wrong mode. No matter who I am in the moment, I receive 100 percent benefit as long as I expend 100 percent effort.
- Eliminate excuses. I’m responsible for my own writing. I can’t blame other people or external circumstances for something completely within my control.
- Every day is a practice, not a perfect. Realizing this simple truth eliminates the pressure to perform and allows me to push the edge, risk failing and try again. And again.
- Eventually—Someday—I’ll achieve final expression. For me, this means seeing my first novel in print. And living the [writer’s] life I dream of.
The practice of Bikram Yoga is the only [physical] activity that can be improved upon as we age. According to Bikram, “You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from scratch once again.” In my book, this goes for writing, too.
Bikram also says that in life you only have to travel six inches—the distance [or journey] from your mind to your heart. My definition of writing is a marriage between the heart and mind. And despite where I am in my writing journey, it is a lifelong commitment that continues to grow stronger every time I show up, stay in the room and give it my all.