How to Get Rid of Regret

May 29, 2019
James Whittaker

Check out this episode on the Win the Day Podcast

“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?”

Epictetus

In preparation for this newsletter, I started thinking about who seems to have it all figured out. My answer might surprise you: children.

Having nine nieces and nephews over the last 10 years has given me a great appreciation for the courage, trust, and fun that children inherently have. But rather than encourage these gifts, many parents try to dictate to their children how the world should be, tempered by their own misfortunes, comfort zones, and limiting beliefs.

While, of course, discipline to ensure safety is important, I’ve found that simply asking children open-ended questions and listening attentively is one of the best ways to learn about what’s most important in life. Children have a certain magic—a spark of energy, potential, and promise.

Yet, that same spark seems all but extinguished in most of the adult population.

As we go through adolescence, we modify ourselves to be accepted, listen to the ill-informed opinions of others, and start to resent others who have been dealt the hand of good fortune. For many of us, we reach a point as adults where we feel rudderless and malfunctioned, devoid of purpose and mission. I certainly felt like that, and even wrote about it in Success Magazine earlier this year.

Here are nine lessons I’ve used to accept the past, be happy in the present, and move confidently into the future.

1. Engage with life.

Allowing myself to be pushed around by everyone and everything was the brittle foundation for all that was bad in my life. It was only after a moment of sheer disgust where I proclaimed “I am not going to live like this anymore” that I made the decision to take a stand. From that one moment, my health got back on track, relationships strengthened, my income kept multiplying, and I began to attract opportunities that I otherwise never would have dreamed about.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re 16 or 60, or what situation you currently find yourself in. Stop complaining about what you don’t have and, instead, create the reality you want.

2. Seek the friendship of high performers.

One of my favorite quotes is from Bernard Baruch: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” When you’re clear on who you are and where you want to go, you naturally start attracting people into your life who believe in you and your mission. I’m not talking about CEOs; I’m talking about people who are in—or just outside of your current network—who you can easily get in contact with, meet at events, or invite to mastermind groups.

Constantly seek out high performers, look for ways to add value, and never forget the real magic: give more than you get.

3. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever.

Napoleon Hill once said, “One of the unappreciated benefits of adversity is that it accelerates the process of identifying your true friends.” As human beings, we have this need for acceptance from others, even if it sabotages our future. But if people do not reciprocate your positive energy, take comfort knowing that the quicker they’re out of your life the better.

The world is a big place, yet so many of us cling to friendships that no longer serve us or pander to toxic family members. Channel your energy into supporting those who bring out the best in you, and you in them. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever.

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4. Find the gift in every adversity.

Our educational system uses standardized tests to place teenagers into two buckets: smart and stupid. For the high academic achievers, this can be a poisoned chalice of unrealistic expectations and discomfort in reality, when they notice that the present reality doesn’t equal magical promised land of happiness, success, and freedom. For the low academic achievers, this can create ¬limiting beliefs and poor self-esteem that can take decades to unwind.

But the most successful people in life learn from every adversity and, with their superior resourcefulness and resilience, always rise once more—as I wrote about in Reader’s Digest. As the Dalai Lama said, “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” Failing means you tried. Find the gift in every adversity.

5. Read, read, read.

You have access to the most brilliant minds in history who can give you a step by step guide to creating a life of extraordinary happiness, freedom, and success. Yet, as I spoke about in Episode 2, more than $73 billion is spent on lottery tickets in America each year, despite the fact you’re 8x more likely to be elected President than you are of winning the lottery jackpot.

That amount, $73 billion, is more than 5x the amount of money that is spent on books each year. One book can transform your life, but how many lottery tickets do you need to buy before you start to see a return on investment?

Commit to reading 15 minutes a day. Feel confident knowing that your competitors would rather spend that time on more sleep or television. If you hate reading, listen to audiobooks or podcasts.

Most importantly, take notes as you read (or listen) and put those ideas into action. If taking notes is not your thing, draw a picture, which studies have shown might be even better.

6. Work at no charge for industry leaders.

Working for a wage is fruitless. When starting out, what you learn is so much more important than what you earn. Sacrifice pay in the short-term for the advantage of being in an environment that challenges you to grow and get outside your comfort zone.

While most people try to impress with fancy resumés, prove your worth through creative thinking, positive energy, and hard work. Having the endorsement and tutelage of industry leaders will propel you toward you dreams quicker than anything else.

7. Success is holistic.

Most people are on the hunt for money but forget that health is the real wealth. A healthy body and mind put you in the best place to have meaningful relationships with others and give you the energy to do the work that will achieve your goals.

As Jim Rohn said, “How sad to see a father with money and no joy. The man studied economics, but never studied happiness.” It’s much better to advance with true happiness than it is to have mere monetary wealth.

8. Don’t compare your Day One with someone else’s Year Five.

The internet has shattered the barriers of entry for most industries, allowing anyone with an internet connection to start their own business. People are very good at starting, but quit at the first sign of adversity. This normally comes a few months in when they look at the results others are receiving compared to others, get down on themselves, and give up.

Success, in any field, is a marathon—and consistency is the key. Channel your energy into doing the work, rather than comparing how much better others are doing.

9. Know what you want and ask for what you want.

One day, about two years ago, I picked up my 5-year-old niece, Charlotte, from school. On the way home, we did our usual stop at a nearby café for a babycino (a tiny cup of steamed milk designed for kids to enjoy a ‘coffee’ with their parents). As we pulled into the carpark, Charlotte pointed—from the backseat, might I add—to a storefront that I hadn’t even noticed, and said, “You’re going to buy me that water bottle.” I looked up to see a pink water bottle and the pretty pattern that adorned it.

Maybe it was because I was in the trenches of the Think and Grow Rich project at that point, or perhaps I just wanted to reward the confidence of knowing what she wanted, but five minutes later we left that store with a fancy pink water bottle and a pack of stickers, too. I had to laugh at the irony, knowing that a 5-year-old knew the path to success better than most adults.

Importantly, keep asking for what you want. One of history’s most prolific inventors, Thomas Edison, once said: “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”

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Demand the best for yourself. Use those nine lessons to get rid of regret forever.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

In case you missed it:
The Gold Standard

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