That was the name of the Kenny Chesney song that must have played 19 times a day when my mom passed away in 2008.
It’s a song about how quickly life goes by. And if we blink, we miss the moments and by missing the moments, we miss our lives.
After mom’s memorial, I stayed around to help my dad with stuff for several days and then I started the 10-hour drive back home and I swear that song played at least once an hour.
By about the 5th time it played, I had to pull on to the shoulder of the interstate and cry. I kept having vignettes of my parent’s life flash through my mind.
I wondered if my dad was also hearing the song as he listened to the radio and how he felt.
And then I remembered something that dad had said to me in 2000 when I was considering leaving my job and going out on my own.
He said: “Life is short. Live it on your terms – whatever those terms might be.”
Not only is there a lot of wisdom in those few words, but I realized that that is exactly what my parents had done. They lived their lives on their terms.
Not everyone always understood or agreed with their decisions.
And their decisions weren’t right for everyone else.
But they were right for my parents.
“Live life on your own terms” implies something critical for our happiness and life success:
That we know what our terms are. And that can take a little bit of work.
Do you know what your terms are? What you most value?
If you don’t, you are setting yourself up to have regrets at the end of your life.
Here are 5 actions you can take to cut through all the clutter:
- Think about your life so far and the path that you are on and how things are unfolding. Now, imagine that it is the end of your life. In your final days, what will you regret? Write those things down now. Don’t censor, judge or rationalize what comes to mind. Just write down whatever came to mind. This activity gets to any misalignment between what you value and the way you are living. This becomes your list of desired changes.
- Prioritize the list. Go with your gut. Which one hurt the most? Start there.
- Write down 3-10 actions that you could take that would move you toward your desired change. Again, don’t censor or judge as you are writing these down. That will stop your flow of creativity.
- Pick ONE action that you will commit to taking today. It doesn’t matter how small the action is. The goal here is to get the ball in play. Nothing happens without action. FAIR WARNING: this is where most people fail themselves. They do nothing. If you do nothing, nothing will change.
- Keep taking actions. Move through your list and add to your list of actions. The more actions you take, the more that new possible actions will come to you. Keep adding those to your list. Don’t worry if some of your original actions become irrelevant; that’s natural. The goal is movement towards something important.
Taking action allows us to learn and adjust. No action; no learning. No learning; no progress.
Life is short.
Regrets are bitter pills to swallow.
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