“Your Life Is Ending – One Minute At A Time” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club
I always like to use the analogy of a bank account; when you’re born, you’re given a personal account with a certain deposited amount of time. You don’t know how much time you have. You might have until your hundredth year, or you might not be so fortunate and only have a week or a day or an hour left.
The rules for your ‘time’ bank account are as follows:
- Every second that you live you’re using up the time from your account.
- You can only spend your time once. When it’s spent you can never get it back.
- Bad habits like smoking, drinking, unhealthy food and bad exercise count double or triple time every time you do them. (I.e. they deplete your ‘time balance’ much faster than if you were to live a healthy lifestyle).
- Stress counts double or triple, so watch out for it.
In a world where you have the possibility to literally do and become anything you want, are you living your life in such a way that you can look back on it later and say you wouldn’t do it differently?
What would you do with your time if you knew you couldn’t fail?
You could become the president of your country, a CEO of a giant corporation, the founder of a product or idea that will be used by millions of people, a famous musician or inspiring artist. These specific examples may be rather unlikely and maybe even stupid, but I’d like you to open your mind to the possibility that you can do so much more than you think you can right now.
The main thing is to use your time to do what makes you happy. Listen to your heart and allow it to guide you. Although you may want to please your parents, friends, family or others, ultimately it’s you that has to be happy. You only live once, and it’s your life to enjoy.
One thing to keep in mind is that your desires and ambitions change as you grow older. You might not want the same things 5 years from now as you do today. 5 Years ago I wanted a place in the center of the city, a fast car, gadgets and lots of partying. Today I still want those things, but they are much less important to me. Today I feel more for building a sustainable business with an income that will allow me to live nicely and travel as I please. I’m pretty sure that in 5 years from now I’ll be happy with a place outside the city where I can live peacefully and raise a family.
It’s a fact that you need money to survive in this world. To earn money, you need a job or business and that usually means trading your time for money.
Unfortunately, many people take jobs they really don’t enjoy in order to make money. But how do you value your time? Is your time really worth the money you are getting for it? Is your time not the most precious thing in the world to you?
What If You Die Tomorrow?
Your time could be up and your life could end tomorrow. Would you have any regrets?
I’m pretty sure that you would, but I’m also pretty sure that you’re not going to do anything to prevent having those regrets in future if you’re still breathing by the end of tomorrow. Why is that? You just imagined your life coming to an end, and imagined having no more time to do the things you still want to do or fix. But you’re not going to die tomorrow, and you still have time to do what you want to do. Don’t delay it.
I’ve had some scary moments in my life where it felt like I was going to die. I’ve literally thought, “Crap, this is it, I’m going to die”. These moments involved a head-on collision with my motorbike, getting hi-jacked at gun point, appendicitis and even just getting food poisoning and throwing up for 12 hours straight.
At times like that when you feel like you’re about to die, so many things become totally unimportant. Money means nothing, the things you own are irrelevant and all you want to do is get better and have more time to enjoy life. You want to spend time with your friends, family and girlfriend/boyfriend.
But as time goes on and days pass by without any life-threatening situations, you grow more confident that it’ll be years or decades before you die. You come to believe that you still have all the time in the world to do what you want to do, and you take time for granted. Now you spend your time on things that mean very little in the end (like money, fame or materialistic desires) and you often ignore the things that matter most in life (love, laughter, happiness, friends, family), only to regret your choices when you come in a life-threatening situation or when you’ve reached the end of your time bank account.
How To Live With No Regrets
After reading this far, I bet you’re wondering how you can live your life in such a way that you’ll have no regrets at the end. You’re facing the dilemma that you can’t live like you’ll die tomorrow because you might still have decades to live and need your resources, but you also can’t commit to living a life you’re not happy with so that ‘someday’ you’ll be able to live the way you want to because you might not live as long as you think you will.
I’ve done some stupid things in my life so far and I have some things that I regret having done. I know I can’t change the past so I accept those things and I use them as lessons to remind me not to do things that I’ll regret in future. It’s easy for me to accept the few things I regret having done, because if I had not done those things, I wouldn’t be where I am today, I wouldn’t have the friends I have today and I might not even have written this very article.
The best way to live your life with no regrets is to listen to your heart. Don’t listen to greed or fear, but listen to what your heart says. When you do this, you follow your true desires and the chance that you’ll regret your decision is very small.
If you’re facing a decision like moving cities, quitting your job, breaking up with your partner (etc.) then it’s always best to listen to your heart. If you listen to logic and make decisions based on logical arguments, you might end up regretting it much more than if you follow your true desires from the heart.
As an example let’s say that you’re in a committed relationship with someone. One day you meet a gorgeous guy/girl who is almost perfectly your type and you’re insanely attracted to them physically, so attracted that you start thinking about getting intimate with him/her. Logically you know you shouldn’t because you’ll be cheating, letting down your partner and ultimately risking your committed relationship ending. Physically and emotionally you feel so attracted to that new guy/girl that you’re seriously considering an affair.
But what does your heart tell you? If you listen to your heart, you’ll know whether you love your partner enough to never want to let them down. You’ll know whether you’re okay with having your relationship end if you get intimate with someone else. Either way, if you listen to your heart and your true desires (not lust or logic), you can make the decision and not regret it.
Live life from your core, listen to your heart and follow your true desires. That’s the best advice I can give to live life with as little regrets as possible.
P.S. I highly recommend a book called The Alchemist – Paulho Coelho which is very related to this article.