One Life – No Regrets
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears – Nelson Mendela
Live for Today? One Life to Live?
We have all heard the clichés.”Live for today.” “You only have one life.” “There is no time like the present.” They all make sense when we hear them but, for some reason, we can’t seem to fit them into our reality. It’s hard to “live for today” when you are overloaded with bills and debt, family issues and job preoccupations. It is hard to philosophize about “no time like the present” when you are trying to build a future for you and your family as well as deal with consequences from events in the past. The last place we seem to be able to focus is on the present. And yet, that is exactly where we should be putting our energy and focus since that us the only time we actually have and are in control of.
For sure we worry about mundane things such as being able to pay the rent and put food on the table and whether or not next month will be better. We all want to finally be able to breathe amongst all the messes we are surrounded by. At times we are so preoccupied with trying to get through another day that we can’t even think about whether there is no time like the present or not let alone thinking about having only one life. Let’s face it. we all have areas in our life that we would like to change or improve. Perhaps we wake up each day hoping against hope that something will change for the better.
These sayings, no matter how cliché or unconnected to our reality they may seem are actually the keys to turning our situation around. When a situation becomes urgent and even terminal, we tend to give it more attention. When we realize that we may be losing something or someone that is precious to us, we drop everything and tend to the situation. So these three sayings are, in fact, addressing the urgency of living. We really only have one today, one life and one present. We have nothing else. If we could speak to those who are running out of time on earth, what could they tell us? What would they advise us to do?
Would We Live differently?
If we were in their shoes, how would we live differently? Would we care so much about what others think of us? Would we be so preoccupied with trying to live for others, for their dreams instead of what we really want to do? Would we value our time more and focus on our priorities instead of superfluous and meaningless activities? Would we spend less time fighting and more time loving? Would we reach out to others more and do more for them? What would we do? How would we live? What would matter to us the most?
I am reflecting on these questions because they can help us think about what we want to do in our lives and what we want our lives to stand for. These questions can help us in making decisions in the different areas of our lives as well as help us to focus on the big picture rather than getting tripped up in the details. If we were less focused on the details of life and more focused on the purpose of life, would we try more things? Would we take more risks?
The Six Reasons We Avoid Risk
In his book Failing Forward, author and speaker John Maxwell give 6 reasons why people tend to shy away from taking risks in their lives. Before giving these six reasons, let me point out the obvious yet overlooked fact – that life is risky by nature. It always has been and always will be. We take a risk getting out of bed each day and sometimes even by going to bed. We can never ever escape risk. So why are we so adverse to risk if it is part of our daily lives?
1. We Don’t Want to Look Bad
Nobody wants to look bad or mess up. Nobody wants others to see that they have messed up or face criticism for messing up. It is embarrassing to fall flat for all to see. Most likely others do not see our failures under the same fluorescent lights that we do, but we tend to magnify ourselves. And that is the point. It’s not about us. It is about the experience. We need to get over our fear of what everyone else might think and get down to the business of trying, failing and learning.
2. We Second-Guess Everything
We tend to go into analysis-paralysis, to borrow the expression. We come up with all the “What-ifs” to explain away our reason for not trying. We devalue the venture by rationalizing that maybe it is not all that important or that maybe it is not for us. Unfortunately, time tends to render most things unimportant and then we lose our interest. The action or the steps we could have taken are replaced by inaction and eventually disinterest and status quo.
3. We Have Unrealistic Expectations
Whatever we want to undergo or change in our lives, we have a tendency to underestimate the time, money and energy and other sacrifices required. The idea may sound good but we are unrealistic about the effort required. It is when we are confronted with the reality that effort is required than many of us give up. The reality doesn’t match our idea of what we thought it would be. But nothing worthwhile is going to be easy. there will always be sacrifices and that is what makes it worth it.
4. We Want Life to Be Fair
A lot of people have not fully grasped the idea that life isn’t fair. Intellectually, we know this to be true, but somehow, emotionally we still want life to treat us fairly. We may imagine that some people are just lucky because everything seems to work out for them. There are people who spend a lot of energy trying to make life fair or wallowing in bitterness because it isn’t fair. What is fair is that we were all born with nothing and it is our responsibility to create something out of nothing.
5. We Are Waiting for the Perfect Time
There is no perfect timing. We should not wait for all of our ducks to be perfectly lined up before we take action. Waiting for the ideal time is pointless because the perfect time or circumstances are not going to happen. We need to deal with the messiness of today and make something of it the best way we can. Waiting on perfect timing is stressful and tiring. It is a wasteful use of the time we have. And it becomes an excuse to procrastinate.
6. We Are Waiting to Feel Inspired
Waiting for inspiration is like waiting for a sign to drop out of the sky in front of us. We are waiting for that perfect idea to inspire us. But insights or inspiration are all around us. We can find them in the smallest details. Observing our surroundings and reflecting on what we see can be a wonderful source of inspiration. Some people imagine that we have to wait for the right emotion or feeling before taking action, but in reality, it is taking action that creates inspiration. We need to ignore our feelings and do what needs to be done and ideas and inspiration will follow.
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca