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Living Your Life with No Regrets

By Dr. Stacy Taniguchi, Guest Writer

Clayton Christensen, the former Harvard Business School professor and an icon of innovative thinking, penned a profound work entitled “How Will You Measure Your Life?” Following a diagnosis of cancer, Dr. Christensen embarked on a soul-searching journey, reflecting on his own professional life—which was widely celebrated in the realm of business leadership—and on what he would consider to be his crowning achievements. As he compared his life’s successes to those of his Harvard MBA classmates—many of whom had achieved similar professional successes—he discovered startling disparities among his MBA peers. Despite their professional triumphs, many found themselves mired in personal turmoil, grappling with issues of depression, divorce, incarceration, suicide, and an overall pervasive life of discontent. Driven by this disquieting revelation, Christensen thoughtfully looked at what really mattered to him and, in his book, attempted to explain how we should inventory our own values and goals. He implored us to pause and critically assess the trajectory of our own lives.

Are we pursuing paths rich with purpose and devoid of regret? As he poignantly queried, when confronted with life’s pivotal moments, will our measure of success extend beyond the trappings of wealth, status, and societal accolades?


Would You Live Your Life Over and Over Again?

A different perspective for evaluating both your current situation and your vision for the future is by contemplating a profound inquiry posed by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: “Would you live your life over and over again for eternity?” While initially appearing abstract and detached from reality, this question harbors deep insights into one’s innermost thoughts and perceptions of life.

I think many people would answer by saying, “Absolutely not!”—perhaps influenced by past traumas or hardships. Some may also answer this question by saying, “Some parts I would and others not.” Even though Nietzsche would not accept the latter response since he was seeking a yes or no answer, both imply an answer based on the reflection of one’s past. What if I could suggest that instead of looking at your past experiences, especially the ones you would not want to repeat, you based your answer by looking toward your future? The past, immutable and fixed, need not dictate our trajectory. Conversely, the future remains ripe with possibilities, shaped by the choices we make today. By seizing agency over our destinies and actively crafting the lives we desire, our perspective on Nietzsche’s inquiry is likely to shift. How, then, can we empower ourselves to chart a course toward a thriving future?

Even for those of you who would answer Nietzsche’s question in the affirmative because your life has been amazing so far, how will you continue to live your life so deliberately to give yourself the best chance to still answer yes? Would you feel confident enough that you can achieve such a life serendipitously?

Immanuel Kant, an 18th-century German philosopher, posed the concept of the sublime nature of things, including humans. He said this nature is indescribable but exists in all of us and everything around us. Have you ever seen something so breathtaking and beautiful that you take a bunch of pictures and go home to explain what you saw to someone else who was not there with you? No matter what words you choose to describe it and even when showing the pictures you took, that person probably won’t appreciate what you saw as you did. That is because you cannot describe the sublime nature of what created the awe you experienced. They must experience it, too.

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As humans, we also have a sublime nature that is the essence of who we really are. It is also indescribable. But it is this nature that truly defines what we are capable of doing in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, in our quest to define ourselves, we often adorn ourselves with these layers or badges of identity, shaped by societal expectations and personal beliefs. These badges encompass various facets—such as socio-economic status, religious affiliations, political leanings, occupational titles, familial roles, and perceived power. Ideally, they can serve as positive markers, guiding us to become valuable contributors to society.

However, there are instances where societal judgment casts these badges in a negative light, hindering an individual’s progress. Regardless of their nature, these layers of identity do not encapsulate our true essence. They obscure our sublime nature—which defines our strengths; weaknesses; and, therefore, our potential. As we get consumed with collecting these badges, it becomes increasingly challenging to recognize this sublime essence. When we lose sight of our inherent nature, we risk descending into despair, where mere survival consumes our focus, as it did for some of Dr. Christensen’s classmates. Finding ourselves in this precarious position can impede our ability to envision a path forward, leading to a loss of hope.


Achieve a Life to THRIVE and Have No Regrets

Living a thriving life comes down to recognizing that you try to find your sublime nature and use it as a basis to live your life with very few, if not no, regrets. As enticing as that may sound, how achievable is it? May I suggest that if you are willing to be deliberate and proactive in that pursuit, living a life to THRIVE, with few or no regrets, is very doable.

As you embrace such an intentional lifestyle, you begin to recognize and appreciate the many opportunities with which you are provided. When you have that perspective, you see your life with lots of hope for the future and a life where you can have more control over which opportunities you take advantage of. Even when you see the world around you head toward chaos and uncertainty, you can still have hope in your life in a positive growing way.

In a brief and quick answer to how you may achieve a life to THRIVE and have no regrets, I have found there are five steps. They compose the Choose to THRIVEmodel. Here are the five steps:


#1 Make the Choice

choose to thrive

Make the choice to live a life to THRIVE. Some choose to just endure their life because things are just tough. They have given up hope and decided to live a life where their environment and influences direct their path. They will endure whatever comes. You do not need to live that way. Be intentional and decide now how you will live your life.

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#2 Identify Your Values

Now that you have chosen to live a life to THRIVE, take the time to identify your values and what really matters to you. Have you ever taken the time to do that? A good friend of mine, Hyrum Smith—founder of Franklin Quest, a company that merged with Stephen Covey’s group to create the time management consulting and training company called FranklinCovey—told me that if you do not know what you value, you are like a ship in stormy seas without a rudder. You will then be tossed and turned according to the winds and currents, and your heading will be uncertain. Knowing what you value gives you your rudder so you can control where you go.


#3 Prioritize Your Values

Knowing your values is not enough. You must prioritize them. There will be many times when your values will come into conflict with each other, and if you have not prioritized which are more important, there is a good chance you will make the wrong choice for that situation to live a life to THRIVE. Take the time before getting into such situations of conflict to know which value is more important.


#4 Create Your List

Think about and create a list to THRIVE. Not a “bucket list!” That is for when you are about to die and you try to fulfill all your dreams on which you procrastinated. A THRIVE list is a list of those things you have taken the time to identify now that are the opportunities you seek to live a life to THRIVE. What do you want to accomplish? What would you like to learn about? Where do you want to visit? Is there anyone you would like to meet? These are just some prompt questions to consider answering to get started on your List to THRIVE. How many things you have on your list doesn’t matter, but like my friend Hal Gregersen from MIT said, “It starts with one.”

Here are some points to consider when creating your list. First, take your time thinking about what you want to put on the list, because once you write it down on your list, you cannot take it off. If you think you may change your mind later, don’t put it on your list. Second, nothing you put on your list can conflict with your values. If the item is in conflict, you will not THRIVE. Third, consider past accomplishments that have given you a sense of accomplishment or pride. Put them down because the things of your past that have given you a sense of THRIVING are good to remember.

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#5 Pursue Your List

Once you have some things on your list, pursue them. Live your list! Keep a wide eye open for opportunities to fulfill those items on your list. When you have spent time thinking about them and writing them down, your approach to fulfilling those opportunities will change. No more will you say things like, “Oh, I don’t have time to do that right now,” or, “I have no one to do that with so I’ll wait when someone can go with me, or, “I really can’t afford that right now.” When the opportunities come along to fulfill the things on your list, your attitude will change to, “How can I make this happen?”

As you can see, this is not rocket science. In fact, you can get started with the first four steps today. But as important as the first four steps are, it is step five that you must be deliberate about the most to live a life to THRIVE. Unless you live the things on your list to THRIVE, you will not THRIVE.

This five-step model gives you a glimpse of how to live a life to THRIVE. I know my brief introduction here probably raises more questions about it, but I hope this resonates with you, and if it does anything, this brief intro sparks you to want to learn more.

At our consulting group Beta Experiences, we are experiential designers of evidence-based content, including more understanding of the Choose to THRIVE model. Most of our work is done on adventures specifically designed to teach the content sought by our clients. Whether we are hiking and fishing in Alaska, mountain biking in Moab, rappelling in Montserrat, fine dining in the Catskills, or touring temples in Asia or museums in Europe, we introduce people to what a life to THRIVE looks like and, more importantly, what it feels like. We also design our experiences to allow our clients to catch a glimpse of their sublime nature and how they can explore that nature even further. If you’re interested in experiencing that, you can find more information here.

No matter what your successes are or what badges you have earned, live your life with no regrets.

What do you think about creating your own THRIVE list? How could participating in that exercise serve you to live a more fulfilling life? Comment below!

[Editor’s Note: Dr. Stacy Taniguchi is a born educator and a former professor at BYU’s business school. After teaching high school for many years, he earned a PhD with a focus in Education Leadership and Foundations. He co-founded Beta Experiences which helps people on their journey to living a life of thriving. If you’re interested in thriving on a learning adventure led by Dr. Taniguchi and Beta Experiences, you can learn about future trips at Choose to Thrive.]


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