A good friend of mine was telling me a story they heard from an OkCupid date. The story was about the girl’s father. This man was taking early retirement. He had dreamed of retiring for a while now and he was finally getting close to that magic number of 55 years of age. He counted down the weeks: 20 weeks to go, 19, 18…
A week or so before the big day, he was hit by a pick-up truck. He was paralyzed from the waist down. He spent the next ten years in a wheelchair, unable to do any of the things he had dreamed of doing – all of those things that he had put on hold until the age of 55. The age when he would finally be free to follow his dreams.
He died in his wheelchair. He waited too long.
Did you get goosebumps at that story? I did, and everyone I have told this story to, did as well.
This story isn’t unique in anyway. This is just one story of one person who died without living his life fully, without fulfilling his dreams, who died with his music still inside of him. There are hundreds of these stories everyday – go to any senior citizen’s home and you will hear them by the dozens.
Go to any deathbed, and you will hear everyone of them imploring you to take the chance right now, throw off the sails, ride into the wind, and do what you want with your life. They would say, don’t wait, no matter what happens, do not wait for some day in the future. That day will never come.
This quote comes to mind (attributed falsely to Mark Twain):
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
But a lot of these words and stories will fall on deaf ears. We will hear, but we will not listen. We will not do, in spite of the fact that the stories are true, the regret will be real, and we are living in pain right now because we aren’t living true to ourselves.
I know – I am going through the exact same thing. I’m so afraid, so afraid to take that first step towards my dreams. Even though, I am slowly working towards it, I am still so afraid.
What are some of the things I’m afraid of?
- Fear of failure
- Fear of disappointing my parents
- Fear of bankruptcy/solvency/poverty
- Fear of being laughed at when I don’t make it
- Fear of not being able to travel again
- Fear of disappointing my friends
- Fear of being alone in the world
- Fear of not being able to recant my mistake – being stuck with it forever
- Fear of not knowing what I am doing
- Fear of ridicule
- Fear of rejection
All of these are pretty self-explanatory, I think.
I don’t need to explain any of them, because all of them are close friends of all of us. We have all experienced them at some point in our lives, or might be experiencing them right now.
But, to me, bigger than all of these fears, is the fear of having regrets.
That is why I overpower through all of these fears, and keep on going, because for me having regrets is a bigger worry. I cannot have any regrets. If I die tomorrow, I want to be able to say I did everything I wanted to do with my life and I have no regrets.
That is what I can truly say right now, and I want to ensure that this no-regret philosophy and attitude continues in my life throughout my life. I never want to look back with sadness that I didn’t do something I had set my heart upon.
I ask people this question all the time.
Do you have regrets? Why do you have regrets? What can you do to ensure you have no regrets on your deathbed?
I ask you these same questions. These are the most important answers you will ever store in your heart. Be honest now. The only person who matters for this question is you.
If you don’t like the answers, then you have time to change them. You can start taking the actions right now.
Do what you need to do.
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