We can be assured we will experience various changes throughout our lives; it’s up to us whether we choose to learn and grow, or resist in our attempt to maintain status quo. However, when we stop and take a look around, there is definitely at least one thing we could get better at. Maybe it’s being a better friend, maybe it’s being a better wife or mom (or husband or father), maybe it’s committing to better health, maybe its learning to relax a little more, worry less and enjoy the ride. No matter where we are in our journey, we can always get better. This is not to say that where you are right now is not good; it’s just to say we all have the opportunity to embrace a journey to excellence – should we choose to accept.
Dr. Anthony Campolo completed a survey with fifty people over the age of 95; one question that was asked was as follows: “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?” There were three common answers that we should acknowledge and accept as advice from the minefield of life, (take note they did not wish they had made more money!) these were:
– If I had to do it over again, I would reflect more.
– If I had to do it over again, I would risk more.
– If I had to do it over again, I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.
Personally, when I am 95 years old (with a very wrinkly pink VW Beetle tattoo I should add) I want to be proud of the life I have lived to that point. Sure I will have an abundance of advice to pass on, from mistakes made and lessons learned, however I do not want to have any desires as strong as those stated above running through my mind when presented with this question. Kudos to these surveyees for their courage and honesty!
To reflect can be defined as to “think about.” And if you have ever read a book (or even a chapter) by Dale Carnegie, John C. Maxwell, David Schwartz, Robert Kiyosaki or many other amazing authors on the topic of life, faith, success, people, leadership or business, you know the key to everything is the way you think, what you think and how you train yourself to think each day. Now, maybe we can appreciate the significance of the subtle advice from our elders and learn to reflect more, after all these days are the journey; why race to the destination? Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously – as they say – you will never make it out alive.
Risk has become a four letter word in today’s society (pun intended). No one is up for “taking a chance.” Everyone hunts for that safe and secure job, car, home, friend, everything. Don’t get me wrong, safety is of high importance; however a false sense of security is not. For example, the days of pensions taking care of us in our golden years are over. A smaller generation cannot possibly fund a pension for a larger retiring generation. Pensions were created for the Baby-Boomers and that is who will see them. We have all followed the fallacy of go to school, get good grades, get a good job, keep your nose clean and work until you are 65, then retire on the beaches of Florida with golf club in hand (you might as well run on the beach in the soft waves holding hands in the sunset too, while you’re at it!). This worked great in the Industrial Age for the Baby-Boomers. Now that we are in the Information Age, things are different here. No longer do you “need money to make money.” So, we need to step up and choose a risk that has a possibility for betterment in our lives; because rest assured, we are jeopardizing more by not risking than we ever could by “taking a chance.” Everyone will do the work of a millionaire from the neck down. Why not take a risk, and work on personal growth from the neck up! What do you have to lose?
To do more things that live on after one has passed may sound like a very heavy undertaking. However, perhaps it is helping someone in need close by or far from home, maybe it is developing as a leader within the community, workplace, church, country or even family; creating a following and respect that is unheard of these days, and will last a lifetime. To me this is the “Make a Difference” in life, you choose where your “difference” will focus. Don’t be left with regrets wishing you made a bigger impact. Think of the next generation and leave something that will make a difference after you are gone.
Personal weaknesses are hard to admit. It can be easy to pass judgement on others’ faults without even thinking twice, but this is not effective living. We will have to be courageous enough to identify an area to work on personally. We can look to many areas for something we need to change and improve. However, relationships are the root to life and if we don’t have strong, loving and respectful relationships with those closest to us we can be certain problems will arise. The first step is identifying a relationship in our life that needs work then seek education. (Such as Five Love Languages, Love & Respect, Grown-Up Girlfriends or Wild at Heart; and countless others.) We cannot just read one of these books and place a check mark in the box, we have to apply the contents; this may be the most courageous thing you will ever do. But the “Slight Edge” effect will last a lifetime.