I hate it.
The part in the movie when someone near death starts laying out all the things they wish they would have done differently in life.
The things that only become clear when you know your time is short:
- Taking that risk
- Getting on that plane
- Telling that person they’re sorry and that they love them
- Making more time to work on that thing (a book, course, a business, or even some sort of tool) that could have helped so many people
It’s the Ben Franklin quote, “Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon, and wise too late.”
And the saddest thing is that most people still don’t change until they have to. Even when we have more time, money or whatever it is we think we need to do “that thing” that would have made the difference, we rarely end up using it.
We make excuses, or we act like we are content without doing more.
…That is until our time is almost up. Then the facade drops.
Pardon the metaphor, but I once read that expecting long-term success through emotional fakery is like trying to be a sniper when all you have is a shotgun.
One broad spray fired from a long emotional distance is not enough to make a close-range impact.
Does that take the wind out of you like it did me? Did you read it twice?
Good, read it again.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from coaching and my own life experiences it’s that people aren’t honest enough with themselves. They’ll blame everything on a lack of time, knowledge, money or some other external factor when the truth is we suck at getting out of our own way.
Frankly, I think some of it is a fear of success.
People are scared to become the version of themselves they know they could be because of what it would demand of them, what comforts it would erode.
But what’s worse, sacrificing our ego a bit or being a spectator?
If you’re being honest with yourself, you know the answer.
Ever notice how people will keep diplomas, trophies, awards, and inspirational quotes in their office but rarely keep reminders of the times they nearly lost it all?
It makes about as much sense as someone trying to cover up a dying Christmas tree with more ornaments; at some point, you gotta throw the thing out and move on- the same goes for your excuses.
What’s my point?
Nothing that won’t sound cliche- but everything that’s painfully true…
If you want fewer regrets later in life make the investments you need to right now. Notice how I don’t use the term “sacrifice” here?
Investments move you forward when chosen carefully and diversified. Sacrifices, on the other hand, insinuate you are giving something up; one big thing you won’t get back.
Yet that’s exactly what you are doing when you choose to become a spectator through the use of common excuses; sacrificing.
And the thing you won’t get back when you do that is time; the very moment when you could’ve made the change you keep saying you want to make.
The moment when you could have made that difference.
The moment you could have been of more value to that person.
But hey, there’s always next year right? That’s when the budget gets replenished, the busy season ends, the kids are out of school, the schedule opens up…
No- There’s not always “next year” and you know that.
What there is, is right now- and it’s about time we all own that.
So here’s your challenge for the next 12 months (it should be your challenge for the rest of your life but I’ll take what I can get):
Don’t allow yourself to make the same excuses as everyone else for not doing things that you know would benefit you. I’ve worked with multimillionaire athletes who complain they don’t have enough time and money. Corporations who complain the same.
It’s all relative.
Yet right now- someone in Uganda is finding a way to get into medical school and become the world’s next great surgeon.
I’m not saying this to make you feel bad, I’m saying this to help you wake up and remember who you are and what you value.
It shouldn’t take an extraordinary circumstance akin to something life, career or relationship threatening to for us to find a way to make something work.
Progress just doesn’t happen through serendipity.
Which is why it’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention.
Maybe I’m wrong to live my life with that type of urgency. I’m certainly guilty of being relentlessly self-critical at times; other times I could pace myself better as well.
We have to quit making easy excuses and double down on what we value most; even if it sucks in the moment.
That’s it- there’s no poetic wrap-up here. Just a nudge from someone who has nearly lost it all once before.
Someone who wants you to succeed.
Someone who has had these same fears and made the same excuses.
Someone who, (hopefully) like you, refuses to become a spectator in their own life or the lives of others