The only things you regret are the things you don’t do. – Michael Curtiz
There was a story of a man who stayed in the cabin of his trip across the Atlantic Ocean. He had saved for many years with the dream of moving to America, the land of opportunity. It was in the early nineteenth century, so times were hard. But the time came when he finally saved enough money to afford passage on a large ocean liner.
Because he had very little money, he stayed in his cabin most of the time, rationing food he had brought on board with him. On the last day of his journey, he decided to splurge on a meal. He showed up for the final banquet buffet and timidly asked the waiter how much a meal like this would cost.
He braced himself for the bad news, and the waiter responded in surprise. ‘But sir, didn’t you know? All of the meals are included in your ticket. You can eat as much as you like, for free!’
Don’t you think life is sometimes like that? Most people live their lives unaware of the incredible opportunities that exist all around them. Have you been seizing the opportunities available to you? How many times have we look back and wished that we have done this or that?
I believe one of the main reason why we sometimes intentionally let opportunities passed by is because of risk. An opportunity may come with associated risks especially if it going to take you to a road less travelled. It may get uncomfortable and you may have work harder. That opportunity may even turn out to be a mistake.
But consider this, life is a series of calculated risk.
A palliative nurse who counselled the dying in their last days revealed the most common regrets they have at the end of their lives. Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives.
Ware shares of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. She asked her patients about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently.
What she found was that five common regrets surfaced again and again:
- They wish they had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them
- They wish they hadn’t worked so hard
- They wish they had the courage to express their feelings
- They wish they had stayed in touch with my friends
- They wish they had let themselves be happier.
According to Ware, the first regret is the most common regret of all. When people realised that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled.
That first regret is about not taking the necessary risk for your own sake. We conform to others’ expectation and society’s pressure instead of pursuing what’s important for us.
So what are the opportunities available to you today?
Is there a passion that you want to pursue? A calling that is nagging you to explore? Are you happy in your current job or is there a different career that you need to consider? Making a move is sure risky but not doing anything may be more detrimental in the long run.
Is there a family member or friend you need to reconcile with? Is there someone you want to express your feelings to? Don’t put it off, nobody knows the future, whether there will be another opportunity or not.
Are you spending enough time with your children? Are they being nurtured and led to grow up well? Remember, you have the opportunity to shape them and help them grow up better.
Are you taking care of your health? Have you been exercising and eating well? Have you been investing in your personal growth? Don’t give yourself the excuse of not having the time. You are in control and have every opportunity to live healthier. Ignoring your health and growth is only short changing yourself.
Ultimately you are in charge of creating most of your own opportunities. Your next break may just be out there waiting for you to make the first step. Put yourself in a position to say yes.
I want to see what is out there, what is available to me. I want to ask, because I will never know the answer if I don’t. I want to strive, otherwise I won’t really know what I am capable of. I want to push myself to the limit, then I would know that i have done my best and make peace with myself.
Don’t’ be like the man who stayed in the cabin. There is so much to see, to do, to experience, and to live for.
Aspire for more today.