Like most people, my biggest regrets in life have been the things I didn’t do as opposed to things I did do.
One of my biggest regrets was not doing a study abroad experience to Australia while I was in college. I’d waited too late to inquire about it, when I had only one semester of school left.
This was a big regret because I’d always wanted to go to the land Down Under ever since I was a little girl.
Since I didn’t get to go in college, I tried to make up for it several years later by taking a month-long vacation to Australia as a gift to myself for my 30th birthday.
There were a lot of reasons not to go on the trip.
Like the fact that it cost a good chunk of money.
And that I was in the midst of a new relationship.
Or that I would have to go by myself since none of my friends could take off that much time from work.
But there were also a lot of reasons for me to go.
The trip would occur during my birthday. I’ve always wanted a summer birthday, and in the Southern Hemisphere I’d get to have one.
I’d be gone during winter break, the same time my students at the college I worked at would also be away. Therefore I wouldn’t put an extra burden on my co-workers.
I had enough time built up to take off seven weeks from my job at the time (and still had an extra 10 days of vacation left over).
Also, being single with no children made travel and travel planning easy. It could be another 18–20 years before I’d have that kind of freedom again!
Not Letting the “Maybes” Cloud My Judgment
I can remember my initial thoughts when trying to decide to book the trip or not. They went a little something like this:
“Maybe I should wait until I’m married and go to Australia on my honeymoon.”
“Maybe I should wait until I’m retired when I have more time and money.”
I quickly pushed those thoughts aside.
I knew there was no guarantee I would even be physically able to go when I retired.
And why in the world would I want to wait on some man to take me when I can do this now?
So, I hopped online, did a little research, and found a very reasonably priced flight.
I still wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for a month-long excursion, but I had nine months to figure it out.
I gave myself a few days to sleep on the information I’d researched. And then I booked my trip.
No Regrets (Except One)
I’ve never regretted my decision.
In fact, if I hadn’t done it then, I would’ve spent the past 15 years regretting it.
My only regret?
Not doing it sooner.
8 Ways to Make 2019 the Year of No Regrets
1. Don’t settle for “good enough.”
“Most people settle for ‘good-enough.’ Their diet, dating partners, job, income, and relationships are all merely ‘good-enough.’ But since their choices are common, that’s what their life becomes.” — Anthony Moore
I could’ve settled with my “maybes.”
I could’ve blindly accepted my initial thoughts of deferring the trip until I was married or retired.
And I could’ve rationalized those thoughts were a “good enough” plan.
But guess what? Fifteen years later I’m still not married and I’m not even close to retirement.
In fact, since then, I left the security of a job with retirement benefits to start my own business (something else I don’t regret).
While today I’m probably the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life, undoubtedly due to leaving a 9–5 job working for someone else, I know I wouldn’t have the energy I had when I was 30 to do all the rock climbing, hiking, and snorkeling I did in the 115 degree heat of the Outback and the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
Every day I’m so glad I didn’t settle for “good enough.”
I encourage you not to settle for just “good enough.”
2. End the wrong relationships.
So what about the relationship I’d just started a few months before going to Australia? It ended one week after I returned.
Even though it was heartbreaking, looking back I’m so glad the relationship didn’t work out. (What a regret that would’ve been if it had!)
Don’t wish you hadn’t wasted time in an unhealthy relationship.
Instead, start the year knowing you can make it on your own and you’ll be available for an even better relationship before or by the end of the year.
3. Say no to opportunities that don’t support your life mission statement.
Speaking of relationships, I’ve written before about how I had to make the decision to end a relationship a couple years ago because I recognized it didn’t allow me to fulfill my mission in life.
Having a life mission statement in place will help you to say no to choices you’ll regret later.
4. And say yes to opportunities that do support your life mission statement.
A life mission statement will also help you say yes to some pretty cool things you hadn’t previously challenged yourself to.
Even if nothing materializes from these opportunities by the end of the year, you can know it wasn’t time wasted because these things will have led you further in fulfilling your mission in life, which may lead to something even bigger and better down the road!
5. Learn something new.
Don’t let another year pass having not learned the one thing you’ve always said you wanted to learn.
Instead, end the year knowing you’ve developed a new skill.
I personally have always been a big believer in lifelong learning and continually encourage my clients to embrace also it.
Just recently I signed-up for a six-month Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and self-defense program. And in February I plan to take a class on investing.
I hope by the end of 2019 I’ll be more knowledgeable about stock options, and become quicker in my reaction time to defend myself if the need ever arises.
6. Start that side hustle or passion project.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb
If there’s something you’ve wanted to start, whether a hobby, a side business, or a passion project, what are you waiting for?
Don’t put any pressure on it to be perfect or even successful. Just let it be a creative or fun outlet for you from your everyday routine.
Let it evolve and be open to what it might grow into organically.
For instance, a few years ago I started writing a blog about my adventures in stand up paddling and the spiritual parallels of those adventures. It was really just a place for me to record and preserve my thoughts. I didn’t promote it at all.
My little side project turned into my 2nd published book, which eventually helped fund my 2017 mission trip to the Amazon jungles of Brazil.
You never know what can happen with your own passion project. And you’ll definitely never know if you never start.
7. Turn your side hustle into your full-time gig.
If you start to see some momentum with your side hustle and discover a market for it, it may be time to consider turning it into a full-time gig. Especially if you already know how to think like an entrepreneur.
It was much easier for me to start my own business after working it part-time for nine months before going full-time with it.
But, eventually I had to pull the trigger and take a leap of faith because I knew it would never be the right (or perfect) time to leave my job and pursue my business full-time.
While being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, if you’ve got the desire to do your own thing and you’ve calculated the risks and counted the costs, this year may be the year to give it a go.
If it doesn’t work out, you may have some regrets, but you won’t die.
And you’ll never have to live with the regret of never having tried.
You may even experience freedom and success like never before!
8. Develop your positive self-talk.
You’ll never be able to accomplish the above if you keep listening to your negative-self talk.
What if I had listened to my “maybes”?
What if I had told myself I couldn’t go to the other side of the world by myself?
Well, I don’t have to wonder “What if?”
Instead, I have memories of the places I visited, the beauty I experienced, the wildlife I saw, and the people I met. Some of whom I still keep in touch with to this day.
When you start to hear the negative thoughts that are determined to keep you in just a “good enough” existence, re-frame them with positive self-talk.
Stepping Out in Faith
Shortly after I’d stepped out in faith and booked my dream vacation to Australia, things started to fall into place.
I found a fun part-time gig to help me earn a little extra money for the trip.
Also, I received a sum of money previously owed to me which covered the remainder of my cost for the trip.
And remember how I said I was able to take seven weeks off of work and still have 10 vacation days left over? This all occurred because at the time I worked for a state university and for two years in a row we didn’t receive a raise.
To compensate us for it, we were all given 20 extra vacation days on top of our annual three weeks’ vacation time for salaried employees.
Add in to that the vacation I’d already accrued and amount the holidays we all got off during winter break and I had it made!
I was able to spend Thanksgiving with my family before leaving for Australia.
Then I spent my birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s Down Under.
Finally, I was able to have a week for some much-needed rest and time to readjust my internal clock before returning to work, just in time for the students’ return to campus.
Without the vacation compensation, I probably wouldn’t have had so much time to really relish the experience.
The timing turned out to be perfect and “the stars aligned” for it to all work out. But I had no way of predicting all those things would happen. I didn’t have a crystal ball telling me it would all work out.
I just had to take a chance while at the same time being smart about it. And I’m all the better for it.
Now I have no fear of traveling alone (or doing anything else alone for that matter).
I have more knowledge about the history of one of the most fascinating continents on earth and a new respect for its native people, the Aborigines.
I no longer have a fear of bugs. (Sleeping on the ground in the Outback where the spiders are the size of your fist will help you overcome any fear of bugs pretty quickly!)
If you can commit to all eight, you’ll likely end the year with no regrets.
And who knows where that will lead you in the years to come!
- Are You Where You Wanted to Be At the End of 2018?
- How to Make the Most of the Last Half of 2018
- What Are The Biggest Career Mistakes You Should Avoid?
All photos by Lori Bumgarner