Living life without regrets

Back in late November, I was quickly approaching my retirement date, and wanted to send my “farewell” letter to those I was leaving behind at Lynden. It helps to explain why Jamie and I are doing what we are doing by selling our house and traveling the country in our RV full-time. I also hope it helps inspire others, not necessarily to do what we are doing , but to move forward in life being true to their authentic self. The letter I ended up sending is below, minus the thank you’s at the end of it. Apologies to those of you I worked with that already received this via email…. 🙂

As my time with Lynden draws to a close (this coming Friday, December 1st), I’ve thought long and hard about the “farewell letter” that I wanted to write.  I’ve gone through multiple iterations of thanking my team and management here at Lynden.  I’ve deleted several versions outlining our upcoming plans to travel the country (and Canada!) full-time in our RV.  I’ve left unwritten, musings about life in general.  In the end, I’ve decided to leave you with the thoughts below about living a life without regrets (which is, ultimately, the reason I am leaving Lynden and retiring at the “young” age of 56).  If you aren’t interested, please skip to the end where I do throw in my thanks (despite what I said above).  For those of you that stick with it and read the bullet points below, I hope it helps you in some small way to put your own life into perspective to live without regret.  After all, isn’t that the best any of us could hope for in life?

Living Life Without Regrets

  • Notice when you use the word “should” to justify a decision.

If you are telling yourself you “should stay the course” or you “should live life in a traditional way”, let it go.  Do the thing that scares you or takes you out of your comfort zone.  Often, our “should” are views or judgments put on us by others.  Instead of doing what you “should”, do what is right for you.

  • Become aware and self-aware.

Life is not always easy and challenges will be thrown your way.  Uncomfortable situations arise.  There are moments when you won’t know what to do.  Someone may lash out at you.  Accept that this is the hard truth of a life lived.  And then accept yourself.  Be aware of both your strengths and weaknesses.  Be objective about who you are and what your limitations are.  But don’t let those limitations bind you.  Learn from your past mistakes and continue to grow.  Reframe mistakes and challenges as an opportunity to learn from.

  • Realize there is no “perfect timing” to do anything.

There is never a perfect time for anything.  There is an old saying that there is never a perfect time to travel.  When you are young you have the energy and the time, but not the means. When you are middle-aged you have the means and the energy, but not the time. And when you are old you have the time and the means, but not the energy.  But this adage is true of life in general, not just travel.  Knowing this up front will save you a lot of regret down the road.  The perfecttime doesn’t exist.  The right time may be now.

  • Think of Death.

Nobody wants to think about their own death.  But thinking about your death has a way of clarifying your life in the present.  Last year when I had a major health scare, I thought about my own mortality quite a bit.  And that’s when Jamie and I crystalized our plans of selling the house, and traveling the US in our RV.  “Some day” is never guaranteed.  Thinking about your own mortality may just be the catalyst you need to spur you into action.

  • Tell those you love that you love them.  Often and without embarrassment.

My friends and family (and my dog, Loki) are my world.  Every morning before I leave the house (or RV now), I tell Jamie and Loki that I love them.  I speak to my parents almost every day and always tell them I love them before hanging up the phone.  As we have been saying farewell to our friends here in Seattle before hitting the road, I’ve made sure to tell them that I love them and let them know that they have had a huge impact in my life.  I do not want to lose a family member or friend before telling them the difference they’ve made in my life.

  • Live your Authentic Life.

This tends to go hand-in-hand with the first point above about not living the life others expect of you but it goes a bit deeper as well.  Only you know your authentic self.  Only you know what that person looks like.  This means being in tune with your values and passions.  Leading an intentional and fulfilling life with purpose.  Prioritizing what brings you peace and tranquility.  Carl Jung once said “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”  If you aren’t living your authentic life and being who you truly are, you can never attain a life without regret.

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