Driving away from the doctor’s appointment where he was given an imminent death prognosis, Diane Keaton’s father was initially quiet.
When he spoke, Keaton listened to words she’d never heard her father say before:
I never liked my job.
I wish I’d spent more time with you kids.
I wish I’d taken more risks.
You will eventually face your mortality. It’s inevitable. You know that intellectually, but has it seeped into your day-by-day reality and the choices you make?
Don’t wait until you hear your death sentence to reflect on your life and determine you didn’t do what you wanted, nor weren’t the person you wanted to be.
1. If you never really liked your job, start developing your strategy to get out and move on. It can be done, as scary as changing jobs may sound. I’ll hold your hand while you figure it out, if that helps.
Have a “take action” date as part of your strategy. Otherwise you fall into the seductive mental-trap of waiting…
until the kids are out of high school, which morphs into waiting…
until the kids are out of college, which morphs into waiting…
until the mortgage is paid off, which morphs into waiting…
well you get the picture. If you consistently wait until mañana to get away from the stress of a job you hate, you will never get away. Never.
2. If you want more time with your kids, or something else you love, start noting on your calendar how you spend every single 1/2 hour of your day, from the time you wake-up until you crawl into bed to sleep.
It’s the same idea as keeping a log of everything you eat during a day if you want to diet – you’ll be surprised at what you discover.
Once you understand where you spend (or waste) your time, cross check this with your values. Do they match? If not, take action to change the habits you’ve developed over time. Expect resistance. Your brain is content with the way things are. It likes auto-pilot and will use every trick in the book to keep you doing the same thing over and over and over again.
3. If you want to take more risks, do it. It really is that simple.
What holds you back from taking risks is fear and fear is just a feeling. A powerful one, I grant you, but just a feeling none-the-less.
Regrets are also feelings, ones that typically haunt you longer than fear and sap you of energy and faith in yourself.
Fear is often an indicator that you’re on the threshold of growth. Embrace it as such.
- Most risks don’t have a heavy price. Does yours? Really?
- Worried what other people will think? People understand everyone makes mistakes and, frankly, they’re much more concerned about their own lives than yours. For those very small percentage who are more focused on you, it’s because they don’t have a life to speak of. Ignore ‘em.
- Worried about failure? Give it up. Failure is such an effective tool for learning and growing. You feel so much better when you try and fail than if you never try. (There’s some saying about that isn’t there? Is it better to have loved and lost than never loved at all).
If you think you’d feel like Diane Keaton’s father if you received a prognosis of imminent death, take action.
If you don’t want your eulogy to by “S/he played it safe”, take action.
If you’re just settling in life and it’s gnawing at you, take action.
If you want to get past your fears, take action.