“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe
Quite often, my conversation with leaders involve decisions they’ve just made, or situations they’re dealing with, or occasionally disasters that have just happened. There are always comments about things that could have or should have been done differently. Sometimes there are even comments about how to handle situations more effectively the next time.
That’s all good stuff, but for all the reflecting on things we’ve struggled with, or bad decisions we’ve made, in the end that isn’t what most people think about. In study after study, the most common regrets people have late in life involve the things they didn’t do (here’s one; there are many).
We miss opportunity after opportunity because we are afraid to go for it. That’s true whether we’re talking about our professional or personal lives. We are afraid of what others think, we’re afraid of what others will say, we’re afraid of our own weaknesses – the list goes on and on. The point is that fear holds us back from doing things we want to do and should do.
Think about your current situation, either personally or professionally. What opportunity exists that you’re holding back from? What thing is out there that you’re really excited about, or that you think could be really awesome, but you just don’t quite dare to do it?
I’m not a psychologist, and I don’t claim to have the secret to overcoming the fears that keep you from going after those opportunities. I just know that days and months and years go by, and eventually most of those opportunities are lost. And most of them don’t come around again.
Make sure that when you’re way down the road looking back, the things you see are things you actually did. Is there a relationship you know you want to build? Build it. Is there are skill you want to develop? Develop it. Is there an experience you want to have? Have it.
Don’t wait until the situation is perfect, or until all the stars are aligned. You can end up waiting your whole life. Most people do. Jump in with both feet and make sure you have no regrets.