Regret-free Living Part 1
I am sitting outside in a t-shirt that says, “Live the Life You Dream,” writing the first blog I’ve written this month. After two years of writing nearly every week, I put the blog on the back burner in order to keep up with life. Was I letting you down? Was I potentially losing new members of my audience? I was concerned, and thought it through carefully, struggled with feeling unprofessional. I chose to give myself grace, stay on top of my priorities and spend time with people face to face.
In the past two months, I packed, moved and unpacked. Almost completely. File boxes? They can wait. It’s your turn now.
I rolled out the first online study of Wisdom – Better than Wishing, complete with ten videos. I put out a really enjoyable series on John the Baptist in my daily 1 Minute Wiser videos. I learned another course to teach at work.
And…I have something WONDERFUL in the works. I can’t tell you about it yet, but it’s really cool ?
While I wait for my son-in-law to build a time machine which will enable me to go back in time and lend myself a hand, I am grateful for the ability to prioritize.
Okay, just for a second, before I continue being serious, I’ll pause and dwell on the concept of going back in time to work side-by-side with myself. Hmmmm…
I think it would be awesome. I also wonder if I’d end up in separate rooms, isolating myself in my work. I tend to do that. My two selves would need patio breaks to enjoy our company. What about you? Would you enjoy your own company if you came back for a visit? What attitudes would the future you encounter?
My son-in-law and daughter are smart and creative, but I’m not holding my breath that I’ll get to time-slip just to accomplish more.
I celebrate the limits of a 24-hour day. I’m grateful for a job I enjoy, even though it uses some of that day. I recognize my margins and prioritize.
A friend asked if I missed writing music. I totally miss it. But choosing is power. There have been times I’ve been frustrated and resentful, trying to cram everything I want to do into a day where slots were already filled. There’s freedom in acknowledging reality rather than wrestling it. No matter what, certain things will use each day’s time: prayer, hygiene, work, dinner, conversation.
When I accept and give thanks for the hours and opportunities I have, I have the power to choose what is most important right now. I will write music again. I will record more of the music I’ve written. For now, I’ve chosen to create a devotional series that is taking time to develop and market. I’ve chosen to connect with people who teach me, so I can share what I learn with you.
What happens when we don’t choose?
Not choosing is a choice. It’s human nature to “coast,” to avoid doing anything because we’re comfortable where we are or because thinking of what we need to do is exhausting. When we let our options pass us by, we leave our power on the table. We miss the good in life, and we erode our health, relationships and our potential for fulfilment.
Today, I chose to write outside. Winter is coming, but today, I can enjoy the sounds of the last few cicadas shuffling off their shells, the birds preparing for migration, the patio curtain swinging gently in a breeze which is exactly the right temperature.
I could have missed this. In the coming winter, I could have looked outside and thought regretfully, “I missed summer and fall, working so hard.” I’d be wrong, though. Do you see the flaw in that thought?
Often, when we feel regret, we subtly shift blame. If I were to think, “I missed summer and fall, working so hard, I’d be shifting blame to “working so hard.” The real fault would not have been in working, but in failing to add pleasure to my work.
Today I chose to experience the transition of summer into fall, while working on something I believe will help others and give me a sense of long-term accomplishment. It’s healthy for us to add little delights to things that will benefit us in the long term. A task becomes an experience; life becomes memorable.
If I don’t intentionally choose to make life nicer, it would be easy for me to look back, crying in regret. I might not notice myself shifting blame to my work. Without knowing why, I’d become resentful of the writing I truly love. Eventually, writing would become a burden instead of a blessing, and I might never publish another book. Moments like this one, where the cats stalking each other in the yard make me laugh, would be a wish instead of a reality. My unfulfilled dreams of helping people grow in wisdom and live abundant lives would become a source of bitterness.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll write more about regret-free living. For today, let’s keep it simple.
Is there a relationship, goal or blessing you currently have which requires regular effort? Can you see where you might be tempted to resent this gift, because of the effort required? This week, choose to add little pleasures to your efforts. Make that long-term investment more enjoyable.