Decades from now, when you look back on your life, will you feel fulfilled and like you accomplished your wildest dreams? Or will you feel like you wasted this one, precious life? Only you can know what a fulfilling life looks like. But whatever fulfillment means to you, there’s a way to reach it and avoid living a wasted life. Let’s dive into just how!
Focus on yourself and your future
The first step to avoiding living a wasted life is to live for yourself and go after your dreams, not the dreams others have for you. You can do this by dropping the expectations others have placed on you, not shaming yourself for your past, and being kind to yourself going forward. Here’s how:
1. Forget about the “shoulds” and the “have tos” and live life for yourself
Think about all of the things in life you want to do. Now think about all of the ones you think you should do or have to do. Which list is longer? If you’re like many of us, the list of other people’s expectations is longer than the one with your own dreams and desires. If you want to avoid living a wasted life, it’s time to change that.
Whether it is your parents, your husband, society in general, or someone else, many people look to others for what we “should” do, and for a timeline for doing it. Lots of these shoulds are said by well-intentioned people. Things like: get a college degree, get married by age 30, have 2.5 kids, etc. While these are all great, they are also not for everybody, and certainly don’t need to happen on society’s arbitrary timeline!
How can you start living life on your own terms? There are many tactics to combat the “shoulds,” and it might take some work to truly stop living according to someone else’s opinions. But a good place to start is by reminding yourself that this is your life, and your opinion is the only one that truly matters.
2. Don’t shame yourself for where you’ve been or what you’ve done
According to Dr. Brené Brown, an expert in vulnerability and shame research, shame is the painful feeling or experience of believing that one is flawed and therefore unworthy of love or belonging. If you feel shameful, you believe that you are inherently bad.
We all feel shame from time to time, whether it’s about financial choices we’ve made, something we said at a party five years ago, how our relationships have panned out, or infinite other situations.
But believing that you are a bad person for the mistakes or choices you’ve made is detrimental to living a fulfilling life. Some ways to combat feelings of shame when they creep in include sharing those feelings with someone you trust and knowing your own value.
3. Be kind to yourself
If you want to avoid living a wasted life, it’s time to stop the negative self-talk. We talk to ourselves all day long. How often do you stop to think about what you are telling yourself? When you do, you might be appalled at how you’re treating yourself.
Your voice is the loudest and most constant voice in your life. Instead of beating yourself up, speak to yourself as you would a best friend, a sister, or a child. The words you use are powerful. Telling yourself that you can’t do something or that you’re not good enough will make it that much harder to accomplish your goals. On the other hand, if you encourage yourself and speak to yourself lovingly, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
Step into your true self
Whether we are in touch with her or not, there’s an authentic, true version of ourselves living inside of us. To avoid living a wasted life, tap into your true self. Here’s how:
1. Choose yourself and your dreams, no matter how wild they seem
Sometimes, our dreams are scary. They seem so wild and crazy that we never say them aloud, and sometimes we don’t even admit them to ourselves. But what if you let yourself dream a little? Let yourself imagine what life could be?
If you want to avoid living a wasted life, don’t settle for the safe path. Pursue those dreams, as wild as they may sound, and you won’t regret it. You can even pursue your dreams and achieve financial success at the same time, so there’s no reason not to go all in and give it a shot.
2. Look to your younger self for guidance
Do you know what your dreams are? Maybe it’s been so long since you let yourself dream big that you’re struggling to know what your dreams even are. The best place to look when this happens? Your younger self.
What did she want out of life? Did your younger self dream of traveling, becoming an elected official, having kids, living on the beach? Maybe she wanted to become a scientist, an astronaut, or a baker. Whatever it was, don’t ignore it. Sure, you might not actually decide to open a bakery, but remembering that baking sparked your joy back in the day can give you clues to what would be fulfilling now.
Think of what the little girl version of you would think of you today, and start pursuing those passions again. You are the only one you need to satisfy to ensure you don’t live a wasted life.
3. Keep your curiosity alive
A wasted life is often a boring one. It’s one where a person has so much potential, and so much to offer, but they stay stuck and don’t grow into the person they could become. Don’t let this happen to you! One way to do this is to stay curious. Luckily, curiosity isn’t only for children. Adults can cultivate their curiosity, too, even those who may have lost it along the way.
Set your dreams in motion
Life is what you make of it. So if you want to make your dreams come true, there are certain things you have to do: put goals in place, work to reach those goals, and surround yourself with the right people to help you along the way. Here’s how:
1. Make plans and set goals
Have you ever felt directionless and like life is taking you along for a ride you have no say in? If so, you probably didn’t have any goals you were working toward at the time. If you don’t set goals, you will go through life aimlessly. Maybe it will be a fulfilling life, but maybe it will be a wasted one.
Achieving your dreams takes work. Setting goals will give you the direction you need to change and make all of your dreams come true. Think of all of the areas of your life you want to achieve things in and set goals accordingly. Some examples include professional development goals, relationship goals, and, of course, financial goals.
2. Avoid bad habits
We all have them, and most of us know that our bad habits aren’t helping us live a fulfilling life. The good news is that you probably also know what good habits and practices make you feel alive and like you can conquer the world. Those are the habits to tap into in order to avoid living a wasted life.
The next time you find yourself falling back into a bad habit like bingeing Netflix instead of working on your side hustle, remind yourself of your dreams and goals. This is the best way to help get you back on track to living that amazing, incredible life that you deserve.
3. Surround yourself with the right people
We don’t go through life alone, and the people we surround ourselves with often make the difference between a wasted life and a fulfilling one. It’s time to distance yourself from anyone in your life who doesn’t build you up and support you.
If you have to constantly explain your choices or justify your decisions to someone, that’s not someone you should have around. Just like you need to be kind to yourself and drop the negative self-talk, it’s important to drop those negative other voices, too.
Don’t forget about your finances
Money will help you along the way to living your authentic life. Keep these tips in mind as you go about your life. Remember that while money isn’t everything, it is an important tool if you want to avoid living a wasted life.
1. Spend on the things that matter
Don’t waste your money if you don’t want to live a wasted life. Figure out what your needs vs. your wants are, and spend accordingly. By not spending money on things you don’t need, you’ll see your savings skyrocket in just a short amount of time.
Even better, you might find yourself getting back in touch with things that matter more than material things, like your relationships and experiences.
2. Don’t stay at a job you hate
One of the biggest regrets of the dying? Working at a job they hate because of the money. You likely spend more time working than doing anything else. You deserve to enjoy doing what you spend the most of your time on! Staying stuck in a job that makes you miserable just because it gives you a paycheck is no way to live.
3. Get paid what you’re worth
No matter how much you love your job, it’s never going to be perfect all of the time. But what it should always be is something that values you and pays you what you’re worth. Not only will you be closer to achieving your financial goals if you are paid what you’re worth, but you will also feel more fulfilled and more valued, and that’s the opposite of a wasted life.
Don’t live a wasted life – you deserve more
No matter how old you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done, it’s never too late to live an authentic, fulfilling life. Nobody should look back on their time on earth and see a wasted life. Get out there and live your life for yourself, set your goals, and create the life you want to live and that you deserve!