Do you ever wonder whether you’re living life to the BEST of your ability? You want to live life to the fullest, yet aren’t quite sure what it really means or how to do it.
This is something that I wrestle with periodically (typically when I’m reminded how fragile life is, such as when I battled cancer or when my Uncle Hal died last year).
Today, I want to introduce to you 5 simple truths that will help you (1) better understand what it means to live life to the fullest, and (2) go do it. It’s time to stop wondering and instead make a bigger impact while fulfilling your full potential.
And as a special bonus, I have a free resource available below to help you out.
Table of Contents
What It Means to Live Life to the Fullest
In the days after my cancer diagnosis, I kept wondering what people would say about me at my funeral. I asked myself what I thought about how I’d lived my life up to that point.
Had I done enough for my kids? What about for other people and the world around me?
Unfortunately, I didn’t like my answers. I knew that I could have done much better – especially in using my strengths for the benefit of others. And I committed to do something about it if cancer spared me. Although I didn’t know where that would lead me, these thoughts are what eventually had me retiring from law to start coaching several years later.
I’m not the only person to have these thoughts. I met many people during my cancer journey who wrestled with the same questions. And since then I’ve known others to struggle with these thoughts as well, including my Uncle Hal.
Hal knew that we was dying for months. He confided in me that he regretted putting things off, letting fear get in his way while believing he’d eventually get to them (yet never did). And he feared that he hadn’t made a big enough difference during his life.
If only I could go back in time and give advice to my uncle (say, 20 years ago). I’d tell him to adopt 5 truths into his life that would help him better understand what it means to live life to the fullest (and help give him the courage to do it). Because here’s what living life to the fullest is all about:
- fully using your talents and strengths to serve others;
- accepting that you can make a difference (even in little ways); and
- not letting fear stop you, but instead making brave choices so that you don’t have big regrets late in life.
How to Live Life to the Fullest: 5 Truths to Help You Do It
#1: You Make a Big Impact By Being Present
Making an impact in the world doesn’t require you to do “big” things, give up your possessions, or go save the world. This is a myth that’s dangerous (and that too many people believe).
Believing this myth makes you feel inadequate and injects fear and self-doubt into your thoughts. And it holds you back further (because negative thinking paralyzes you from doing and being your best).
But the truth is that everyone has a ripple effect on those that we touch. Every. Single. Day. And often the most impactful and meaningful moments are the most ordinary (and small things).
All that’s required is that you make a connection with someone. And you do that by being present with them while being yourself.
As an example, Hal took the time to play chess with my son Zachary whenever he visited and taught him the “why” behind each of his moves. He also asked questions of Zachary about his interests and thoughts.
When Hal died, my son was crushed. It wasn’t just a great Uncle who passed, but a friend who he cherished and learned how to be a good man from. Someone of extreme patience and kindness. The sad part is that Hal had no idea the impact he had on Zachary (or on my other son Noah for similar reasons).
Unfortunately, that’s often the case.
But here’s the thing: You’re making an impact on the lives of others whether you know it or not.
What can you do to further this? Strive to connect with and be present with people. From loved ones to colleagues at work (and even to strangers). You never know what a kind word, meaningful question, or a heart-felt smile will do for someone.
#2: Living Life to the Fullest Is About Being 100% Yourself
You’re worthy and you have a purpose. But don’t let that fool you into believing that finding your purpose is hard (or heavy).
This whole “purpose” thing can lead many on a long journey to nowhere. That’s because most people tend to make it more complicated than it is. The good news is that it’s not. And even better: you create it from within (purpose isn’t something you have to find in the outside world).
There are three main things that bring purpose and meaning to your life:
- Connecting to other people (humans are made to connect – you get meaning from it).
- Using your unique blend of strengths, skills, and talents to serve others (in a way that you enjoy).
- Aligning your life (through your choices and behavior) around your core values.
Living your life this way will help you see the value you bring to this world so that you don’t discount it or the impact you’ve made. It will also give you a bigger sense of purpose and meaning.
This is how you live life without regrets and make the biggest impact you can. After all, you were made to be this person (so embrace it).
To help you do that, download your free Inner Compass Values Assessment. This powerful resource will guide you to discover your core values and how to start aligning your life around them in small, simple ways. It’s the BEST way to start living out your purpose.
#3: You Don’t Have to Take Big Leaps (Just One Small Step at a Time)
Dreaming about what you want your life to be does nothing for you. And neither does thinking you’ll do it someday – or planning around every “what if” you can think of.
At some point you’ve got to do something. Otherwise, you’re wishing and planning your life away (and will end up regretting that you did nothing about it).
But here’s the thing: all it takes is a single step to get started. Just one. And that step need not be a big one.
Figure out what that first step is and do it – no matter whether you know what the next step will be. Because you can figure that out once you’ve taken your first. Besides, your next step will become more obvious once you’ve taken the one before it.
Most people get bogged down in trying to determine the entire path. But you can’t realistically know that. The secret is to accept that you don’t know the path (only the first 1-2 steps) and get comfortable with that.
[Recommended Reading: Five Reasons to Start Before You’re Ready].
#4: Who You Are Is More Important Than How
Humans tend to waste a lot of time on how to get things done – or even how they want to be perceived – without considering why. It’s time to change that.
The truth is, what will matter most to you later in life (and what determines whether you’ve lived life to the fullest) is who you are. To determine that, start asking yourself some tough questions. Questions such as:
- What do you want to be able to say about yourself at the end of your life – especially about how you behaved and treated others?
- What you value most in life, other people, and yourself?
Don’t worry about how you’ll become the person you want to be. Focus instead on getting clarity around who you want to be. Because once you get clarity around this, the how becomes more obvious.
Besides, the how changes as you grow and develop (and as your circumstances change). Keep your eye on who and you’ll always be able to determine your next steps.
And (of course!) your core values are a clear guide for understanding who you are. So, don’t forget to download the Inner Compass Values Assessment:
#5: Your Biggest Regrets Will Come From Not Trying (Not From Trying and Failing)
I know first-hand that your biggest regrets come from those things that you’re too afraid to try. You might not like failing, but you’ll at least know that you gave something your best shot. That’s much easier to live with than never trying at all.
It amazes me how many people allow fear to stop them from going after their dreams or even make simple changes to their lives.
Instead of always asking “what if” and being afraid of all the potential negatives, ask yourself what will happen if you do nothing. Who and where will you be? And if failure scares you, have you considered that not doing anything is the biggest failure of all (and one that you’ve chosen)?
If you start to shift your perspective on this, it will make change seem much less scary. And you won’t fear failure so much.
If you believe that you’re not ready, that you don’t have time, that you’re too old, or have some other excuse that is holding you back, understand what that is. It’s fear talking. Learn to get face those fears and move beyond them (instead of allowing them to hold you back).
[Recommended Reading: Learn how to move past your fears by reading 5 Effective Tools to Stop Living in Fear and Worry].
At the end of your life, what you’ll regret the most are those things that you never had the guts to do (you’ll be proud for the things you tried regardless of their outcome).
Living Life to the Fullest Is About Living Life Full-Out (Without Regrets)
Life is meant to be LIVED – and that means not dreamed about or wished for within your head. It’s about getting out there and doing. You might work hard to tread water, begin to sink, and have to be saved.
But eventually, you’ll learn to swim (and sometimes you’ll float along with ease).
Life isn’t supposed to be perfect. It’s messy. But that’s what makes it beautiful. The experiences that bring pain, sorrow, grief, anger, and fear are a necessary part of life. And they make the kindness, delight, and joy that much sweeter.
All your life’s experiences (failures, achievements, and all) are woven together in a rich and colorful tapestry that’s breathtaking – especially if you live it your way according to who you are (without apology).
That’s how you live life to the fullest. Without regrets. Doing what’s sometimes scary. Finding gratitude in even the messiest of moments.
Until next time…
P.S. Don’t forget to download the Inner Compass Values Assessment to help you get clarity around what gives you purpose and how to live a more purpose-filled life. That’s your first step to living life to it’s fullest, regret-free.