I'm sure at some point you've been asked, "What's your biggest regret?" If you're like many people I know, you respond with the typical, "I have no regrets/everything happens for a reason." Each time I hear such a statement, one simple thought comes to mind: how unfortunate.
If you claim to live a life with no regrets, you are probably in denial, or you haven't fully lived, loved, or taken any chances. You can't tell me you don't regret hurting someone at some point, or not taking an amazing job when you had the chance, or letting someone you love walk out of your life. To me, regret doesn't mean sitting around and obsessing about what could've or should've been; rather, it's a realization of "I screwed up." You recognize it, learn from it, grow, and move on. In my opinion, regret is what drives us to evolve into better people.
I recently read an article in which the author, a palliative care nurse, outlined the top regrets expressed by her patients in their final stage of life. The reasons were similar in that each directly addressed the personal life of the individual. There was no mention of money or material wealth (in fact, many regretted working so much); instead, the responses dealt with emotional happiness and the fostering of quality relationships. The article really made me think: if I found out I had only weeks to live, what would be my biggest regret(s)? Framing that earlier question about regret within the context of your final days will likely change the views of all those “no regrets” responders.
I'm a person who believes time is precious and shouldn't be wasted, so I’m all about multitasking and hustling. However, as I look at how I fill my days, the scales tilt heavily towards responsibilities and work, with very little effort being paid to enjoying the people in my life. I'm beginning to realize that it's not just about the quantity of things I accomplish each day, but the quality of what I do. Furthermore, I’ve taken a hard look at the quality of people who get a piece of my time. And that leads me to my biggest regret: I wish I would've quit more.
You heard me. I wish I were more of a quitter. I can't tell you the number of times I've stuck with a situation or relationship that is creating drama and pain simply because walking away would be "quitting", an admission of failure. I look around at people I know and realize that I'm not alone in my behavior. There seems to be an ever growing abundance of martyrs willing to go down with the metaphorical ship because damn it, quitting is for losers!
Many times we make excuses for our misery. We justify that many people have it worse than we do, and I don't disagree; I'm simply asking, is "not terrible" acceptable? I'll even go so far as to suggest that relationships and experiences filled with mediocrity and lack of fulfillment can be just as detrimental to your happiness as those which are outwardly negative. Look at your job. Your partner. Your friends. Your neighborhood. Is there a reason to stay? Or maybe, just maybe, are there things in your life you need to quit?
Please don't take this as me telling you to give up on everything in your life that isn't perfect. It's not an implication that problems can't be resolved or that life doesn't have its ups and downs. But let's face it: when something has run its course, you know it. Therefore, maybe what we perceive as quitting isn't really quitting at all..it's acceptance. It's finally opening your eyes and acknowledging that you're dragging around dead weight that serves no purpose. So many of us readily accept the importance of eliminating toxicity from our food supply, but what about from other areas of your life? If you are willing to make major overhauls to how you eat, a task that consumes such a small percentage of your time, why are you not as eager to demand quality from all of the other elements that comprise your day? Simply put, if you are aware of things in your life that have little value, cut them loose and reclaim every precious moment they've been stealing. Spend it with the people you love, doing the things that matter.
So friends, I challenge you to quit that which does not add value to your life. I hope that someday you look back and celebrate your risks, forgive your mistakes, and come to the conclusion that your regrets were the catalyst for change and greatness.