By age 26, I had lost both of my parents to illness. This caused me to really start thinking about the importance of being intentional with my time… with my life. Everyone wants to know how to live with no regrets. How to make the most of the days, weeks, months, years we’re given. Because the truth is nothing is promised. Phrases like “seize the day” and “YOLO” are popular because deep down people know not to take advantage of life. However, many people don’t know how to live with no regrets while still making rent.
What I mean by this is how do you live every day to the fullest while still maintaining your responsibilities? This is even harder if you have a family or stationary job that doesn’t allow you just to take a few weeks off whenever you want. But it is possible, and here’s how.
To Live with No Regrets, Do Better Next Time
In my experience, you experience regret the most when someone dies. It seems no matter how much time you spent with them, you regret not spending more. If someone dies before there’s reconciliation in the relationship, you regret not trying harder or pursuing forgiveness. To live with no regrets, you have to commit to doing better next time.
Even though I try not to focus on it, if I’m honest with myself, I definitely regret the last couple of years with my mom. I was going through a lot personally and, because of that, our relationship wasn’t the strongest. Had I known I wouldn’t have her in my life much longer, I would have done things completely differently. But we don’t get to know. So, what do you do not to have regrets when someone passes away? You do what you can, what’s manageable, now while they’re still here.
How To Do Better
When my dad got sick, and I was told he was dying, I made a point to call or FaceTime him at least once a week. Even near the very end of his life, when he couldn’t see me or talk to me, I made sure to call so he could hear my voice and know he wasn’t alone. I couldn’t physically be with my dad when he passed away, but I did talk to him that morning and was so glad I did. It wasn’t perfect. There were years where I had no contact with him at all. But I knew from my experience with my mom that I didn’t want to waste those last few months I had with him, even if they were hard. I didn’t want to have regrets.
And now, my closest family member I have left is my Grandma–my mom’s mom. I do my best to call her once a week. We don’t live in the same state, so it’s my way of keeping her close from afar. I am acutely aware she isn’t going to live forever. So, to live with no regrets when her time does come, I make every effort to be present in her life now. I’ve learned to do better this time.
To Live with No Regrets, Don’t Wait to Live Your Dreams
When my mom died, she was 54 years old. She was young and had so many dreams, hopes, and goals she’d yet to accomplish. She thought she had time, and she was waiting for the perfect moment. Don’t wait to live your dreams. Accomplish them now. Or at least start working toward them, even if that means taking small steps each day. Life isn’t all or nothing, but make sure you aren’t waiting for the perfect person before you go on that adventure, see that sight, travel to that place, write that book, get that degree. Do it now, even if it means doing it by yourself.
To Live with No Regrets, Live Wisely
For many people, the idea of living with no regrets feels impossible so long as they’re stuck at their 9-5 job. I get it. I was there. Quit the job… with a plan. It doesn’t have to be a perfect, foolproof plan, but it is best to have an idea of what’s next or you may have a whole new list of regrets. Whether that’s a more flexible job opportunity lined up, a business idea you’re ready to get off the ground, or a hefty savings that’ll hold you over for a while, to live with no regrets, it’s best to live wisely.
To live with no regrets is not about throwing all caution to the wind, shouting “YOLO!” and hoping for the best. It’s important to make sure you live with no regrets while you’re setting yourself up to live with no regrets. This means identifying what is most important to you and being intentional about pursuing those things consistently throughout your entire life.
To Live with No Regrets, Live with Intention
The phrase “live with no regrets” sounds reckless. It sounds like it only works when you quit your job, drain your savings, and head off to Thailand. And maybe that is what you want, but even that can be done intentionally. And I truly believe that intentionality is key to living a life you don’t regret.
Look at the big picture. Look deep inside and be honest with yourself. What do you want? What do you not want? What do you want to feel? What do you not want to feel? What do you want to experience? What do you not want to experience? What can you do starting today to bring you closer to your answers to those questions? Not “if” or “when” because nothing is promised. But today. Because that’s how to live with no regrets (and still make rent).
To Live with No Regrets, You Need Balance
The things you initially think you’ll regret may only be some or part of the picture. Or, they may not matter at all. When my mom died, I didn’t regret not traveling more. Living with no regrets is about more than living a picture-picture, Instagram-famous life. It might not look as glamorous as someone else’s life, but it’s consistent and intentional. Plus, it’s yours. While your “no regret” life might look different than mine, here is a bit of how I began intentionally living the life I want while simultaneously building the future I desire with balance.
Since my first office job in 2015, I knew I wanted to work for myself and do what I love: write. But I worked very hard for other people, doing other things, before that would happen. While I was working hard, I didn’t necessarily love my jobs. (In fact, if you read any of my journal entries during those years, you might even say I hated my jobs.) But I did manage to save money. And throughout those years, I went on a few small, fun road trips, went to Indonesia for the first time, and gained many skills that would later help me in my own business.
Intentionality is key to living a life you don’t regret.
How I Live with No Regrets and Still Make Rent
While working my last traditional job, I also worked to build my own content marketing business. I worked well over 40 hours a week with a full-time job, part-time job, and a few side gigs. It was hard and exhausting, but I knew it’s what it takes to live the life I wanted. And so, even though it wasn’t glamorous, and I wasn’t going on big fancy trips, I didn’t have any regrets. Because I had a plan. I was doing what I was doing with a purpose: to have enough content marketing clients and enough money in my savings to confidently quit my full-time job. And I was finally able to do that in early 2020.
Come this year, I was able to purchase an RV so I can travel with my sweetie this summer and beyond. I know it’s many people’s dream to do “van life” or travel full-time. While it was never my dream, I am excited to have the opportunity to do it because I lived with intention. I set myself up with a consistent income that I can make from anywhere with WiFi. And I don’t have any regrets. Had I quit my job too soon, I may have some. Had I tried to travel full-time without a consistent income, I would definitely have some. It wasn’t glamorous, but I also didn’t deprive myself of enjoyment–I purchased a paddleboard, went to the lake, took some mini-trips, enjoyed life while I worked hard to set myself up to enjoy my future as well.
Don’t Stop Enjoying Life
Don’t stop enjoying life. What if you die before you begin? I know it sounds gruesome, but it’s reality. I do my best to make my decisions with wisdom and intentionality, thinking toward my future while living without regrets. And I hope this post encourages you to do the same!