Wiehann de Klerk
Live your best life filled with adventure, not regrets; Living the Ultimate Life, not the Normal Life.
Just imagine turning 90 years old. Wow, what an achievement! Your family decides to organise a surprise party even though you're not the biggest fan of surprises. You find yourself sitting in the midst of about 50 other people (because you're too old to stand). You don't know half the people there, but they came anyway, probably for free drinks and nibbles. And then, out of nowhere, someone comes up to you and asks you about your life adventures. They want to be engaged in an edge of the seat adventure thriller. Surely you have had many adventurous experiences. Surely, you have had your fair share of exciting and exhilarating explorations. Unfortunately, you fail to tell adventure stories and instead, cause them to lean as far back as possible to disembark from the boredom of your normal life. Your normal, boring life. Okay, so that story didn't end the way you thought it would. Well, let's face it, many stories don't end the way we want it to. The reason is that we are so busy just living day to day that we forget the importance of taking action and embarking on the life that we want to live. What are some things that you want to do?
I once spoke to a colleague that started telling me about his vacation and how relaxing it was. After two days back in the office, I looked at him and he looked just as worn out as he was two days before his vacation. Why is that? Because he engaged in the wrong activities on his vacation. He fell for the classic vacation sales pitch that sounds something like this: "You deserve to sit on the beach while sipping on cocktails, you deserve it." He thought to himself, "Yes, you're right, I do deserve it." The allure of the sales pitch sounded very appealing, but he didn't take the time to think about what life is really about. Life is about doing great things, and embarking on a life of adventure, even if it's just meeting people outside of your hometown and learning about a different culture. I asked him what he did, upon his return to the office. He said, "I sat by the pool and had cocktails, it was so relaxing." I wanted to respond by saying, "Cool, I can do that down the road at my friend's house." It's all good - I promise, I didn't. Come on though! This is a relaxation misconception. Our bodies are not made to relax while sitting. Your body is made to be active. Imagine a bird walking instead of flying. Would that not be ridiculous? In much the same way, we are sleeping instead of walking, walking instead of running, and running instead of wakeboarding. The opportunities that lie in front of us are endless. Your body is crying out for adventure. More on this in the blog, The Art of Relaxation. What about returning to work and telling stories of horseback rides through safaris, trekking to waterfalls, surfing, scuba diving with whale sharks and cooking lessons? Wouldn't these activities be more engaging? What stories do you want to tell your grandkids one day? Do you want to leave a legacy? Be the person that made the most of every moment, never looked back and instead embraced life for what it was; a unique opportunity to discover the world and build international friendships. Every single one of us would have met at some point in our lives an interesting elder. Engaging in conversation with these individuals results in greater respect and admiration for them. Do you want to become someone that you respect one day, or do you want to live with regrets? I can almost guarantee that five years from now, you will regret all the TV shows you watched, times you wasted trying to relax, and weight that you piled on eating things that you should not have eaten.
"Every action that you do not take adds wood to the fire of regret. Therefore, regret is the loss of action in your past, bringing sorrow to your current reality."
Living the Ultimate Life is only possible when you live a life lacking in regret. In order to live a life lacking in regret, we must first know what regret is. Regret takes place, not when you are disappointed about the things you have done, but the things you didn't do. We all experienced moments when we said something we shouldn't have said, or did something we shouldn't have done. These small things are simply bad decisions; they are not regrets. They are mistakes that we make. In other words, things that we can learn from; and when we learn from them, we can become better people. However, regrets are not mistakes. Regrets are the things you could have done but didn't do. Regret is defined as thinking, with a sense of loss. The key word there is loss. Loss is the absence of something. Loss is the absence of action. Regret cannot exist without loss, just like fire cannot exist without oxygen. Every action that you do not take adds wood to the fire of regret. Therefore, regret is the loss of action in your past, bringing sorrow to your current reality. Regret is the only other thing that can bring the past back into your reality, other than meeting someone or seeing something from the past and/or thinking about the past. Now, if regret is a loss of action then why do so many people embrace inaction? It is simply that inaction is easy whilst action is difficult. Its hard to always be in action. It's easy to be inactive. I went to the gym earlier, just before writing this blog. Gymming isn't easy. It requires effort and hard physical exercise. Inaction such as going home and watching TV is always going to be easier than action. However, never forget this: inaction may be easy now, but it places regret in your future. Regrets are those things in your life you didn't do - I spoke with over 50 elderly people (over the age of 65) and asked them what their biggest regrets were. Here are five of the most common responses they gave me:
Not taking enough career chances;
Not travelling enough;
Not expressing their emotions;
Not pursueing their dreams and ambition;
Not being happy.
There were many others, but I think that these are the biggest. In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take. The top five are chances that they didn't take - the chance to have a new challenging career, to travel, to express their emotions, to pursue their dreams and ambitions, and to be happy.
"Regrets are the things you didn't do, not the things that you did do that you shouldn't have done."
Not taking enough career chances - many times, people say no to a career opportunity because they have things that keep them locked where they are. Remove the chains from your life so that you can easily say YES! I understand that you might have a family and, in these cases, it is hard to say yes to every career chance. However, this is a no-brainer for those that are single or just in a relationship with no kids. Don't let things in your life lock you into a specific paradigm. Release the chains over your life that you can unleash yourself. Remember, the larger the challenges are, the greater the victories can be. So don't say no to the challenges, or you will only have access to small victories.
Not travelling enough - people don't travel because of a number of reasons that they make up in their mind. They are not reasons, they are excuses. People make excuses not to travel. Is it just me or is that ridiculous? I have heard all of these - travelling is too expensive, it's dangerous out there, I can't get of work, my family/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/donkey/pet doesn't want me to go, I have no one to go with and many more. Every single one of these excuses are ridiculous. Travelling is not expensive if you know what you are doing. Don't book via a travel agent. It is not dangerous out there. It is not dangerous anywhere - the only time anywhere is dangerous is when you go into a dangerous area so avoid the dangerous areas and be aware of your surroundings. You can get of work, and if you can't then take four weeks off unpaid and if you can't do that, then find a better job. So what if someone doesn't want you to go travelling - give them a book to read and tell them to keep themselves busy until you come back. Are you their home entertainment system? Go and travel! You can find someone to talk to you when you go travelling so don't worry if you have no one to travel with. If you get sick, you get sick. This sometimes happens regardless of the location. If you have travel insurance, you will be sorted, and may even be better off than you would in your own country so don't worry about getting sick. Making an excuse not to go travelling is like making a choice not to enjoy life. It just doesn't make sense.
Not expressing their emotions - stop reading this right now and speak to or call someone that is very special to you, and tell them that you love them. If you have your spouse/mum/dad/sister or someone you love close by, embrace them and tell them how much they mean to you. Express your emotions because one day, this inaction can be a regret.
Not pursueing their dreams and ambitions - the only time anyone does not pursue their dreams and ambitions is when they embrace the dreams and ambitions of those around them instead of embracing their own. If you work a 9-5 job, you are pursuing the dreams and ambitions of your boss unless your job is a pathway to your dreams and ambitions. This was a big regret in the lives of those I surveyed. Be sure to be aware of this one and do everything in your power to pursue your dreams and ambitions. Write down your dreams and then write down a plan for their attainment.
Not being happy - happiness is not something that is achieved through specific activities nor is it related to the accumulation of things. For example, activities such as travelling or the purchase of a Ferrari does not result in greater levels of happiness. I found that a lot of elders believe that happiness is a choice and if you dig deep, it's clear that it is. You choose to be happy, or not to be happy. Happiness is not something that can be chased. The acquisition of things takes up room where happiness can rest. Open up space in your life where happiness can rest - realise that wealth, status and achievements are not where happiness comes from. For more on happiness, check the happiness category in this blog.
The Normal Life is what most people choose to live. The life you live is the result of all the choices you made leading up to where you are today, and the choices you are making now. The Normal Life exists when your decisions empower it. Same with the Ultimate Life. The only decisions that empower a Normal Life are the decisions that are, without a shadow of doubt, boring. Boring decisions include but are not limited to:
Staying home and watching TV instead of doing something important;
Saving up a deposit to get a mortgage;
Not spending money on continual education;
Working 9 - 5;
Doing the minimum to get by;
Living life without goals, plans or a purpose.
"The life you live is the result of all the choices you made leading up to where you are today, and the choices you are making now."
Contrary to the Normal Life, you have the Ultimate Life. This is the life you want to be living! Living the Ultimate Life is only possible when you live a life lacking in regret and make decisions that are exciting, exhilarating and outside of the normal paradigm of social acceptance. Firstly, you must have no regrets - this is possible when you are consciously aware of the chances and choices that are available to you. When are you are aware of these, you can take the chances that avail themselves and make the right choices. Choose to be happy, pursue your dreams, travel, express your emotions and take opportunities. Don't make excuses. Every excuse you make will result in a future regret. If you make an excuse, you block off a potential opportunity. If you block off a potential opportunity, you box yourself in. When you box yourself in, you might just get shipped to a place you don't want to be. A place of regret. To have no regrets, all you have to do take every chance and opportunity that comes your way. Secondly, you must make decisions that are exciting, exhilarating and outside of the normal paradigm of social acceptance. Stop making boring decisions. When your friends invite you to join them on a camping trip to the middle of nowhere, say yes. When your family want you over for dinner, say yes. When you have an opportunity to go travelling by yourself, say yes. Make those decisions that are sometimes hard to decipher in the moment, but important to select for the longevity of a regretless life. Make decisions that are frowned upon by most socially accepted views. Social acceptance can be defined as the fact that most people, in order to fit in with others, attempt to look and act like them. What! Why should you look and act like those around you to fit in? Just stop doing it. This is the complete opposite of an Ultimate Life. Unless everyone around you is living an Ultimate Life - if they are then stop reading this and attempt to look and be like them. However, I know you know, just like I know that 99% of the people in your life right now are living the Normal Life as aforementioned, not the Ultimate Life. When you try to be socially accepted, you automatically remove the possibility of being different. Being different is a crucial element of the Ultimate Life. If 99% of people are living a normal life - making boring decisions as mentioned earlier, you have to do the opposite of what they are doing. You have to:
Do things that are important to your life and the lives of others, not stay home and watch TV. When you do things that are important to your life and the lives of others, you are placing meaning around your life. Everything in the world has a meaning for its existence including every word we use in the English language. Would it not be sad to live a life of no meaning? Living a life filled with activities that are not important is living a life of no meaning where nothing you do is of any benefit to yourself or those around you.
Save up money to buy assets, not a mortgage. When you buy a mortgage, you are buying a liability. Liabilities take money away from you. Buy assets so that more money comes into your life, enabling you to take up those chances that come your way.
Work smart and get more done fast, not work 9 to 5. Having a full-time job and working 9 to 5 does not make you a genius. Having a full-time job and getting everything done in two days, that makes you a genius.
Do everything in your power to be the best you can every moment of your life, not do the minimum to get by. People look at a job description as a list of things they have to do, with no scope for greater. However, please understand that doing the minimum will result in you doing the same thing over and over again. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is like throwing a rock in the air and expecting it to float away. You are not going to get different results by engaging in the same activities. Be your best every day. Do things differently (only if it can be done more efficiently) and show those around you that you are a force to be reckoned with, someone they need to have on their team.
Live life with a purpose and a clear plan structured by clear goals, not the life of a lost sheep. Have purpose around the things you do. Doing things without a purpose is like trying to drive a car without fuel. The purpose of your life refuels you. Without fuel, you can only go so far. Your purpose gives you the fuel to keep going. A clear plan shows you the pathway, and a set of goals show you the destinations you need to drive by.
"Living the Ultimate Life is only possible when you live a life lacking in regret and make decisions that are exciting, exhilirating and outside of the normal paradigm of social acceptance."
What are some chances in your life that you didn't take? What can you do now to make sure that you don't say no to new chances coming you way? Who in your life can be your accountability partner, to make sure that you say yes to adventure and take chances?
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