NO REGRETS

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”….Wayne Gretzky

 

So often, people go through life living in the “what if” and look back at aspects of their life with regrets.  I recently read a blog from Bonnie Ware about regrets that people voiced when faced with death.  It touched me and I hope you it impacts you in the same way.

 

Excerpt from Bonnie Ware: REGRETS OF THE DYING

 

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

 

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone\’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.\n\nWhen questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

 

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.\n\nIt is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

 

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

 

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

 

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

 

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

 

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

 

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

 

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

 

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

 

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

INVEST IN YOURSELF

If you are reading this, chances are you are already among those in your peer group that will be ultra-successful in your career and life.  However, there is one thing that you cannot forget as you navigate through your life.  That is the importance of investing in yourself and your career.  When Adam and I launched Succeed Faster, we analyzed every aspect of the event including the cost, as we wanted to make sure it was affordable enough for 20-somethings, but also a fantastic return on your investment.  The response has been awesome and the results and achievements from SF alumni has been epic.  However, there are still a few people who have declined the invitation to attend Succeed Faster for a number of reasons.  I heard things like “I just bought a car, or I am planning a spring break trip and need to save money”  While I understand that managing your finances are important, I am still bewildered when people compare the cost of a life changing event, such as Succeed Faster, with a purchase of a used car or a vacation.

 

Succeed Faster could be one of those events that is life altering and could be the difference in the career you choose, the amount of money you make, and the happiness you receive in knowing the people you met at the conference.

 

I have attached a brief article from a colleague of mine at Monster.com, Ian Christie, who spells out the top 10 reasons to invest in your career.

 

10 Reasons to Invest in Your Career

 

Not investing in yourself is like floating down a fast river without a paddle, map or knowledge of what’s around the next bend. Things may go fine for a while, but at some point, you’re going to realize you made a giant mistake.

 

To avoid such unforeseen disaster, you need to make a proactive and thoughtful investment in a plan for achieving your career — and life — goals.

 

And if that isn’t enough to convince you, here are 10 reasons that investing in your career is a must:

 

1. It’s the Greatest Return on Investment, Anywhere

The return on investing and improving yourself is astronomically higher than any financial investment you could make. From increased lifetime earning power and unimagined opportunities, to protecting yourself from unemployment and the satisfaction that comes from personal growth and success, the returns are enormous.

 

2. You’re the Boss of You

If you’re the president and CEO of You Inc., then it’s your job to ensure you don’t go out of business. It’s your job to nurture growth and prosperity. You do this by planning carefully, performing consistently, operating true to your mission and investing in You Inc.

 

3. You Become More Valuable

Draw up two balance sheets for yourself. On the first, list your financial assets and liabilities. On the second, list your skills, ideas, knowledge, marketability, personal networks, passion and ability to make things happen. Increase your personal net worth by investing in your second list — that’s how you’ll increase the assets on your first list.

 

4. You Can Become Great

You are capable of greatness. Most of us settle for just getting by, using a fraction of our capabilities. This is tragic. Realize your greatness by identifying your talents and investing in your potential.

 

5. You Can Achieve Your Goals

Your career and life goals are far too important to be just wishes. A mismanaged career can derail your life goals. Investing in yourself dramatically increases the probability of achieving your goals and is a real demonstration of your commitment to achieving them.

 

6. You Create Your Own Future

Your career is yours to mold. Investing in yourself gives you the clarity, power and tools to create your own future and take the path less traveled. Sometimes, investing means taking a risk, but that’s the price of entry for success and happiness.

 

7. Because the World Is a Complex Place

You cannot know everything you need to know or do everything you need to do alone. You can’t be your best without help. Find and invest in those who can teach you, show you the way and help you achieve your goals.

 

8. Life Is Too Short for Mediocrity

You don’t have the luxury of being mediocre — period. Whether you opt for self-improvement or outsourcing your weak areas to someone who can do them better, determine where you are mediocre and get help.

 

9. It’s a Cliche, But on Your Deathbed…The reason we hear this often is that it is so true. The passage of time will provide a perspective we don’t have now. One day, you’ll look back at your problems and successes and see them as bumps in the road. Your focus will be on the big picture: the life you led, opportunities pursued or abandoned, how happy you were, and the legacy you left behind. Investing in yourself will give you the courage and determination to be happy and do your own thing.

 

10. Who Else Can You Count On?

Let’s face it: You’re alone on this. No one has as much to gain or lose as you do. No one else is going to make those consistent investments in your development to maximize your career and life.

 

How to Invest in Your Career. 

Invest in understanding yourself better and developing your goals, plans, professional skills, knowledge, career management skills, networks, and your personal brand and profile. Do it yourself, or pay experts to do it for you. Try thinking, attending events, building a supportive network of peers, planning, self-assessment tools, goal development, reading, consulting experts, getting coached, taking courses, upgrading or acquiring skills, and proactively marketing yourself. Recognize that investing in yourself often requires that you don’t play it safe.

TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF

The first task of successful interviewing is answering the ubiquitous and difficult, “Tell me about yourself” prompt. This is a simple request with a complicated answer. Whether you are meeting a stranger in the elevator, responding to an interviewer’s prompt, or shaking hands at a networking event, you need to know how to respond. If you are prepared to answer this question, you will be prepared for unexpected opportunities.

Don’t ever respond by giving your life story, bragging, or wasting time talking about some trite interest. The request begs an answer that continues the conversation in a compelling manner. Convince the other person that you have done your homework and are interested and bring value to any enterprise. The most powerful response will articulate your strengths and competitive advantages over the next candidate. This is not the time to be humble, shy, or embarrassed.

Be strong, strategic, and succinct. Know your selling points. Describe the kind of problems that you solve better than anyone else does. Figure out what is truly unique and valuable about you and lay it on the table.

Whether you can conjugate verbs in Swahili, sell tricycles to seniors, or create mosaic masterpieces, be ready to share a short story about how this skill brings value to others. If you honestly don’t know your strengths, complete career assessments, work with a career counselor, review your performance evaluations or simply watch a colleague and assess what you can do better, quicker, or more creatively.

Successful networkers are always prepared to deliver their professional pitch or thirty-second commercial. Whether you use this pitch at a job fair, when you meet a VIP, or to answer the “Tell me about yourself” interview question, it is a helpful tool to have ready at all times.

Here’s a sample script for a job seeker with experience: “As a long-term intern for Tech Systems, I focused on industry knowledge, developing relationships, and growing revenue. My industry knowledge helped develop a list of forty qualified prospects. My relationship skills opened the doors to meet decision-makers and executive-level contacts and to identify potential solutions to their problems. In fact, the result is an average annual revenue increase of forty-eight percent over the past twelve months, at a time when the industry is experiencing a significant recession.”

College students with less experience could answer like this: “As the communications coordinator for the solar car team at Michigan, I developed press releases, conducted interviews and managed an extensive blog for the project. This experience has prepared me to work in the tech industry as a communications specialist.”

Finally, remember to think micro and macro. After you take a microscope to yourself, use binoculars to figure out the path ahead. Know who you are so you can determine where you are going. Think about how you can most effectively interact with the world in a way that brings true personal satisfaction.

Insider’s Tip: Keep in mind that the interview is not an interrogation. It is a two-way conversation. Be curious, engaged, and ready with questions. Don’t be intimidated; you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Remember, they once were in your shoes, and they put their pants on one leg at a time just like you. In fact, many employers find interviewing very stressful.