How to Live with Less Regret?

There’s 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, approximately 720 hours in a month, and 8,760 hours in a year.

I have lived a little over 552,00 hours.

And the big question is: How well have I lived those more than a half a million hours? What regrets do I have about how I have spent my time? What changes do I need to make now to have less regret later?

To be honest, my life so far is a mish-mash of living all out and sometimes hiding out. I have consciously and not-so consciously chosen how to live the very hours of the day. I have wasted some time. I have fully lived some of the time. I have intentionally mapped out my time. I have filled time with busy to-do stuff not in alignment with my life dreams and desires to serve. I have realigned myself. I have procrastinated. I have not believed in myself. And I have come to believe in myself. I have experienced the thrill of laser-focused action, completing tasks and reaching goals. I have allowed the news to take me down into the deepest of despair. I have manage to spring back up and aimed to be the change I want to see. I have gone to school. I have taught school. I have raised children and my children have raised me. I have written some books and I have a kazillion morning and journal pages that were more of a brain dump than the creation of art. I have lived too many hours in fear and doubt. I have lived as many hours loving and being loved by friends and family.

Throughout my life, I have been shaken up by the loss of a friend or family member, an accident, some kind of tragedy. These wake-up calls reminded and continue to remind me that life is a gift, the hours of a day a treasure, and my remaining time here a mystery. When the life of a friend or family member comes to an end, I'm seriously grounded into the present moment. The desire to live more intentionally deepens.

As many of you know, I begin my day with a morning routine that sets me up for the day. I meditate, pray, journal, exercise and set my intentions for who I want to be and what virtues I want to manifest to live my best day.Two newer tools that are serving me to live more on purpose are the "Not to do" list and the "I am no longer. . ." list.

A "Not To Do" list is a strategic way to get clear on and stop doing the activities that are not in alignment with my life priorities, values and goals. This is an efficient, important and empowering management tool. Tracking how I spend my time has helped me see whether what I am doing in the various hours of the day match or don't match what I say is important to me. I have incorporated some of the following examples from articles and podcasts into my own "not to do" list:

  • Do not check your email or social media first thing of the day or last thing at night

  • Do not get lost in the social media scroll hole

  • Do not do what you absolutely despise doing.

  • Do not multi-task - science confirms this is not healthy for our brain.

  • Do not take your phone to the gym or have it near you when you workout - give yourself restorative time without distractions

  • Do not bring electronics into the bedroom - get your rest.

  • Do not answer calls from unrecognized numbers.

  • Do not spend time dwelling on the unpleasant things of life.

  • Do not watch too much news.

  • Do not do what you can delegate.

Another equally important list is the "I am no longer" list. This list falls into the category of personal and spiritual empowerment. Many of my mentors and teachers who have had the greatest impact on me remind me that success is not an outside-in job; it's an inside-out ongoing effort. Who we become in the process of reaching our goals and fulfilling our life purpose is far more important than what we achieve.

Dr. Joe Dispenza, a meditation teacher and expert, guides his students to consider creating an "I am no longer" list. Some examples for this list are as follows:

  • I am no longer reactive.

  • I am no longer comparing myself to others.

  • I am no longer wasting time.

  • I am no longer saying 'yes' to everything.

  • I am no longer putting myself down.

  • I am no longer allowing myself to dwell in fear or doubt.

  • I am no longer stuck.

  • I am no longer allowing the news to extinguish my hope and faith.

  • I am no longer disappearing myself when challenged.

  • I am no longer dwelling on current events and the news.

  • I am no longer angry about the past.

  • I am no longer worrying about the future.

While many of us create "to do" lists, fill out our paper or digital planners, repeat affirmations, these two practices support us to set boundaries and to clarify what beliefs, thoughts, and activities are not serving us. These practices help us stop engaging in limiting thinking and behavior and can ultimately serve us to avoid the regrets we might feel not living our lives with purpose and intention.

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