I have a friend who gave me something to write about last night, pretty high regard since I have recently traded blogging in the short term for writing a book, but her words struck me and got me thinking about the choices we make every day when it comes to how we live our lives. An August blog came out of it. Her simple statement:
“Life is not a dress rehearsal”
One of the central themes I write about is the idea that we often paralyze ourselves because we make choices between what we feel we have to do and what we really want to do. Having an Economics background I refer to this as the “crowding out effect,” meaning that we trade precious hours in a very finite day for work, leaving less time for ourselves and those we care about. It is a vicious cycle that ends up affecting how good we can be at anything we do, but more importantly it prevents us from having the kind of fulfilled lives that each of us is entitled to.
There are a lot of reasons why we can’t take that vacation, sleep as much as we should, enjoy our friends, or find the kind of love we want. The whole premise of Leadership Zen is that most of those excuses come from within. We make choices to trade time, almost unconsciously – I get that. I also do that for the record. But one can learn to undo that habit. I’m more concerned when I hear people use words like, “I can’t,” or “That won’t happen for me.”
Our inability to see our world one way and live it the same way is a paralyzing factor in living the life we want. Everything we do is a choice, and our choices tend to be steered by how we see things around us. I’m not saying you can visualize winning the Powerball and make it happen, but I am saying we don’t have to settle for things that don’t live up to our expectations of how they fit into our lives. Karen’s words reminded me of all the chances we all let escape, thinking there will always be another chance to get it right. But more often than not those are moments we let slip away as we prioritize and re-prioritize other things that eventually crowd out who we would like to be.
There is nothing that is out of your reach, only things that are out of your grasp, which is all in your mind. Make the choice to live the life you want – you only get one shot at it – and don’t settle for less. Be adventurous, be silly, take a chance from time to time. There comes a time when regret no longer looks back to things you did, but the things you didn’t.