Okay, so you’re in deep. You are stuck in your head looking back on your life up until this point and thinking to yourself, “I have wasted my whole life” or “I have wasted most of my life”. Or maybe you are not quite fully there are you are asking yourself, “have I wasted my life?” or “have I wasted my entire life?”
If you are asking these questions then I know that right now you are really struggling and you are in deep in your own head. I know that because I have been there. I have been there looking back on my life knowing that I have wasted huge amounts of time not doing what I want, not doing what I knew I should have been doing. And that lead to massive fears and feelings of having wasted my life.
Trust me when I say I get it. Trust me when I say I know it sucks. But if you are in this deep, then there is no beating around the bush. We have to attack this hard. Brace yourself.
If you are reading this post then I am assuming this is not some smaller thought that you have wasted some time in your life, or even some large chunk of your life, but that you feel like you have genuinely wasted your whole life. If you want to read some of my advice on the feelings of wasting portions of your life, you might want to check out this post on what to do when you’ve wasted so much time in your life.
Have You Really Wasted Your Entire Life?
Let’s just ask this basic question first – have you really wasted your entire life? Or can you look back on things and see that you actually did a bunch of things that you are glad that you did and that you are proud of?
Often, when we are deep in a negative pattern mindset, we don’t see the things that we can be appreciative and grateful for. But it is really, really important to keep looking at those things that and see what we gained by doing those things.
Yes, you may be frustrated with your life right now, but maybe you can identify some things – even some tiny little things – that you are actually really glad you did.
Maybe you did something in the past that you are currently considering to have been a waste, but, without that, you wouldn’t have been lead to something you now have. Maybe you did something in the past that, without having done it, you would never have met your partner. Or maybe if you had done what you thought you should have done back then you wouldn’t have something else you can be appreciative of right now, like your kids or house.
For example, I know I regret not going had after Film Directing earlier on in my life, when I actually had a good idea that I wanted to do that. But, had I done that, I might not have worked at a summer camp in America and met my wife. I am, obviously, very grateful for having done that now.
Now, I get it. I get that that seems like a stupid exercise and you still feel like you have wasted your life. But if you can find even one thing that you can be thankful for, then that will help you feel an element of control that you can build upon. That one tiny feeling could really help you in moving forwards.
Yes, I’ve Wasted My Entire Life. Or Most of it.
Okay, so you’ve tried the above, thought back on your life, and realised you have nothing, or hardly anything, that you feel like you can look back on and be glad you did it. Let’s just rock on under the assumption that that is true. Let’s assume you have nothing you can be grateful for that you achieved from what you have done.
Well, I guess that means we have to assume you indeed have wasted your life up until this point. Well, you know what? That sucks. That really sucks. I can’t lie to you and say you didn’t waste your time up until this point. Only you know the real answer to that.
But, even if you decide you have wasted your life up until this point then I ask – “What are you going to do about it?”
I am betting that, right now, you really just want to wallow in the sad feeling of having wasted your life. I bet you want to sit there and think, “Woe is me, I have wasted my life”.
But is that how you really want to spend the REST of your life? Do you really want to sit around thinking to yourself that you’ve wasted your life and it’s too late for you to do anything about it? What a waste that would be. What a waste it would be if you just wallowed in this feeling of self-pity.
It doesn’t really matter if you feel like you only have one or two, a few, or even no things that you can be grateful for from what you did in the past; what matters is that you decide to move on.
You absolutely cannot sit there wasting the rest of your life because you feel like you’ve wasted your life up until this point. You have no idea how long you have left on this planet. You cannot spend that time sitting there in misery wasting more of it.
Yes, it sucks you wasted that time. Yes, it sucks that I know I wasted years (read: really over a decade) not going after my dreams hard enough. But what are you going to do? What am I going to do? We should not sit there and just continually feel bad about ourselves, gradually feeling worse and worse! No! What a waste that would be!
You, like I did, need to get up and move on. You need to decide (and probably continually, repeatedly decide) that you are going to move on. That you are going to stop wasting your life and that you are going to go after what you want.
That is exactly what I did when I felt this way – I simply decided to move on. And, let me tell you, that was liberating. It was hard, and I have to repeatedly work through this and repeated do it. But that act of deciding to move on liberates you.
There is one important thing with this decision to move on – you have to commit to it. You cannot just make some “decision” that isn’t-really-a-decision-and-you-know-it’s-not-a-decision-but-you-pretend-it’s-a-decision-anyway. You really have to commit. You have to know that you are going to do whatever it takes to move on. You have to know that, even if (and, frankly, when) you have tough times and feel like you’ve wasted your entire life, you will stop yourself and you will continue the process of moving on. This is a long-term commitment, and you have to decide knowing and committing to yourself that you will stick to it.
This is a good time to note that I will write a post in the future about how I found a way to stick to my decisions and how I go about committing now, where I used to find it so hard before. I will update here when I have done this.
You need to realise that everything in your life is a reflection of you. Everything in your life has come about from the choices you have made. Sure, your background may have been hard, possibly really hard. But you have choices about how you feel, you have choices about how you act. You make choices about what you focus on, you make choices about what you believe, and you make choices about what you are going to do with your life moving forwards.
Now, forget the past. Take responsibility for your future. You are responsible for what you do in the future. You are responsible whether you achieve your goals or not. You are responsible if you continue to let yourself feel like you have wasted time.
Take responsibility for yourself. Take responsibility for where you are going to end up. Take responsibility for what you are going to focus on.
Don’t Let Yourself be Limited by Your Past
Do not let your past limit you. Do not let your past hold you back and keep you looking at the negatives in life.
You have so much to give. You have so much to offer. I don’t care how old you are, how much time you feel like you’ve wasted, how much time you think you have left. You have so much to offer, and you can achieve so much with the time you do have going forwards.
I mean, do you really think that the point of your life is to sit there and wallow in misery? Do you think the point of your life is to be an example of someone who doesn’t do what they want in life? That does, indeed, waste their life? I really hope not!
Know that you do have so much to give. Know that you do have something valuable to offer and that you have worth. Take that knowledge and move forwards in style. Move forwards going after life. Move forwards living life with gusto, accepting everything that it has to offer.
Stop Making Excuses
It’s really important that you realise that everything stopping you is just an excuse. I know you have probably heard that a lot, but it’s true. Everything is an excuse. It may feel very real, it may actually be completely valid, but it’s still an excuse. That’s the problem with excuses: they either seem or are real, but they serve no purpose other than to hold you back. So just stop giving in to the excuses, no matter how real they are. They are just holding you back.
This is not to belittle anyone with very real, very difficult situations. It’s just that, those situations are either not going to go away any time soon, or they are not going to change without your input. So the point is not to wait until those excuses are gone, but to act despite those situations. Don’t let the situations be excuses, even if they are hard. And maybe you’re screaming, “EASIER SAID THAN DONE!” at the monitor right now. But does that matter? You still have to act despite the circumstance. Just don’t let the excuses stop you.
You just have to commit to yourself that you are either going to find a way through this, or you are going to make a way through this. Know that you are determined to have your life be what you know it can be. Know that you can create that if you just take action and keep going.
Create and Keep Momentum
It’s really important to take that first step out of this mindset. Just one tiny step. The reason is because that step creates momentum. When you take that first step, you have ignited a path forwards. When you take that first step, you open up the future.
And it’s really important that, after that first step, you keep going. Even if it feels like you aren’t really getting anywhere, even if it feels like you can’t do what you want to do, even if it feels like you can’t get out of this pit of misery… You MUST keep going.
Momentum is so powerful. Momentum will keep you energised. Momentum will help see your goals come to fruition. If you let yourself stop, you will let yourself go backwards. Rather than let yourself go backwards, stay in the game and keep yourself moving forwards.
It may feel hard. It may take a metric-tonne of energy. It may feel absolutely impossible. But just keep taking the next step. All the time… take the next step.
And, importantly, remember: if you have a day, a week, a month, whatever, where you falter and you don’t move forwards, or where you get yourself back in your negative mindset, it does not mean you have failed and it does not mean that you will never get there. Just stop. Stop the downward spiral and get back on the staircase upwards. Remember: you made a commitment to yourself that you will keep going even when you falter. So just stop and make a decision to get back on that staircase of positive action. Then take that action. And keep going. And keep going. And keep going.
And when it happens again… keep going.
If you are looking for some quick advice on dealing with regret, I encourage you to check out these best quotes on regret.
If you know you want to stop wasting your life but you aren’t sure what to do with your life going forwards, check that post out.
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