That can be a very hard feeling.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, you could be 16, 32, 48 or 60; the sense of loss from having wasted time in distractions, lethargy, addiction, procrastination can be crushing.
In this post however, I want to speak with you on this subject and show you how to heal and move on. Because here’s the truth of the matter: the sooner you can get over it, the sooner you can get on with your life and move onto the next thing.
I assume that you and I are in agreement that smartest option for you now is to make the most of the time that you have ahead, correct? Ironically, you can only truly be your best, most productive, most optimal self if you can release your sense of regret!
So let’s see if we can drop your regret now.
This is a two-step process.
The first step is for you and I to meet on an intellectual level, to agree that regret serves no-one, improves nothing, has no utility. If we can meet there, then the second step is to drop it like a hot coal.
Step one: In case you’re on the fence about this: regret is not useful. It’s useless. This isn’t a judgment, it’s a fact. You spent your past the way you did. You have ideas about how you should have spent your past. Whenever you carry a sense of “should” with you, you are attempting to ‘mentally edit’ the past in some way. As if thinking about what you should have done can somehow overwrite what happened. But this isn’t possible.
So that’s the bitter medicine. But also check this out:
You were doing your best. Give that to yourself! Of course it’s easy to look back on how we did something and see how it could be improved. But just as you’re doing what you can today, you were doing what you could back then. Won’t you go easy on yourself then? Won’t you give yourself a break? If you didn’t get a lot accomplished, it’s likely that you were going through something heavy and difficult. Just making it through these times is enough of an achievement. Sometimes just enduring from one end of a week to another is an accomplishment. Give that to yourself! Don’t be stingy with your praise.
Step two: Are you ready to release your regret now? All of those shoulda’s, woulda’s and coulda’s? Close your eyes, imagine all of it in your mind somewhere, and say “1, 2, 3, Release. 1, 2, 3, Release.” Repeat this 3-5 times and then check how you feel. It should work. If this doesn’t work it’s because on some level you still think there’s value or necessity in holding onto your regret. Investigate that. “Do I believe that I should hang on to regret?” Be honest.
When we have moments of clarity like these, we realize that there’s a lot that we’re actually capable of. And we want to accomplish what we’re capable of. It could be anything from moving up in our jobs, to starting a side hustle, to getting fit and healthy, to picking up a new hobby or art form.
We feel that we are behind. We think that we’re behind others – who have gone onto great gainful careers, and we think we’re behind one where we SHOULD be.
… There’s that ‘should’ again! Interesting eh?
These are still lies. They are false.
You are not behind your peers, because that would imply that there’s one singular track that we’re on, and some defined finish line. False. We are all on our own personalized journeys that reflect exactly what we’re here to learn. We can model our lives around others’ if we wish, but our journey is our own. We’re not supposed to be anywhere but right here.
You are not behind yourself, that’s just another judgment. You can have all the ambitions and goals in the world. You can be rich, successful, accomplished and prolific – but that doesn’t mean you should already be these things. That’s false. It’s just an idea that you torture yourself with. We are exactly where we should be.
Don’t fight me! Just say it aloud and see how it feels in your body: “I’m exactly where I need to be.” How does your body respond to it? Lighter = Truth. Heavier = False.
Just get into the flow.
Just get back into the flow.
Start today. Do you want to be an artist? Make your first shitty painting. It doesn’t matter WHAT you do, as long as you do it. Do what you can. If you can’t bring yourself to make a painting, then just go get the canvass. Can’t do that? Then just get in your car. Can’t do that? Then… I don’t know, just stand up and get dressed.
Do what you can, and do that daily.
To be in the flow state is to do what you’re capable of doing, no more but no less. If you do that continuously, then what you’re able to do will steadily expand over time. Being in flow is more important than accomplishing any one thing. To be in flow is to be fulfilled. To spend an hour in flow is to have the most productive hour possible. To be in flow is to be productive. Spend a couple of hours in flow, and then you’ll have had a whole productive day. String those days together and then you get a productive week…
Take at least one step outside of your comfort zone. Circulate some new energy in. Cook with a new ingredient. Walk a different route to work. This will wake up your system and wake up your mojo.
I think you’ll find yourself feeling more ‘on track’, more alive, more invigorated than ever before. You’ll discover your ability to accomplish what you set your mind to, and you’ll set your mind to (and accomplish) bigger things.