When one gets to a certain age, one becomes susceptible to the feeling that it may be “Too Late” for you to have or become what you’ve always wanted.
Well, having reached that age myself, here’s my take on the idea…
Fact: We no longer have the same opportunities that we may have had 20 years ago; they no longer exist. But don’t worry about it. If the opportunities of 20 years ago seemed a lot “bigger” in retrospect than today’s crop it’s only because seen through the inexperienced lens of youth they seemed to offer more open-ended, “bigger” possibilities.
And keep in mind that while the environment & conditions of 20 years ago no longer exist, that includes what you were at the time as well.
What you DO have instead today is a new set of opportunities that are different from those other ones in nature, kind & quality – along with 20 additional years of experience & wisdom to bring to bear on them and take advantage of them.
And remember that while today’s opportunities may seem to offer less open-ended possibilities, they are actually just a lot more focused, and so arguably they offer even better possibilities for you to make the most of!
So don’t lament the loss of past opportunities. Instead, focus your attention on recognizing & working with the new crop in front of you today; you may be surprised at how valuable they are.
Tired of feeling regret? Try this strategy: Instead of framing a choice or decision you made in the past that didn’t work out as intended as “the wrong decision”, try looking at it as simply “a poor decision”. The difference may seem subtle, but the impact on how you feel is huge.
Abandoning the idea of “wrong decision” makes sense for two main reasons:
(1) When you frame a past decision as “wrong”, can you say with complete confidence that you know exactly what the “right” decision would have been? Factoring in both the immediate consequences and outcome of that “right” decision as well as the ripple effects compounded over the last x number of years all the way to today? Of course not. Well, when you cannot unequivocally spell out every single positive ripple effect of the decision you’re currently looking back on, then there was no actual “right” decision to make, was there? If there was no “right” choice then there could be no “wrong” one either, just a decision that didn’t work out as expected. Learn from it & move on.
(2) Your decision didn’t work out as you intended. Okay, was your reasoning for making that decision in the first place sound? If it was, then you didn’t make the “wrong” decision – it just didn’t work out; that’s Life. And if your reasoning for making that decision in the first place was not sound (e.g. emotional), then it was simply a poor decision i.e. one based on a faulty premise &/or incorrect information; learn and be smarter the next time.
Look, making decisions that don’t always work out as we’d like is just part of the human experience. But you always have the opportunity to learn from it so you don’t repeat your mistakes! This is called “Lesson Learned”, and it’s the most powerful way to avoid regret in the first place, and even erase any regrets that may be lingering in your mind.
Purge your mind of regret, remember the lesson and not the fear, and live strong!
Here are 2 questions that should guide you to figure out the right answer for yourself.
Q. Do you deserve to enjoy SUCCESS because of your superior qualities as a human being?
A. Well, the answer is entirely dependent upon your value judgment, which is ultimately a subjective opinion.
Q. Do you deserve TO SUCCEED?
A. Well, that is a completely different matter that is dependent upon the clarity of your goals, the quality of your strategies and the nature of the efforts you invest in implementing them to achieve your goals.
Too many people confuse the outcome of success with what is necessary to achieve that outcome. And in doing so often find themselves mired in a self-doubt that prevents them from making the intelligent, unrelenting, and consistent efforts required to succeed.
And if that confusion is allowed to continue over time, the inevitable result is stagnation and atrophy of will.
So make certain you understand and always keep in mind the difference while on your way to your own many successes.
Contrary to what many people may feel, we are not the sum total of all the choices we’ve made in our lives. Because were that so it would mean that our lives are just one big litany of consequences, and we are much more than just the sum of those parts.
The fact is that we are the product of all the rationales we’ve accepted & used to make all those choices.
As you think, so you feel, so you do.
Which is why always doing your best to think through things very carefully & completely is invaluable.
A common rationale to validate feeling guilty is the wry justification that “It helps keep me honest.”
First off, no it doesn’t. On the contrary, it often makes a liar out of you, prompting you to make an off-the-cuff promise which you are not likely to keep.
Here’s how that works: When you make any promise from guilt, your brain considers the promise as disposable, like an emotional band-aid. So once it has served its purpose by temporarily assuaging your guilt, the “promise” is dismissed, forgotten, and not followed through on in action.
Second, you don’t need to rely on guilt to “keep you honest”. You’re far better off relying on your self-respect, which itself gets stronger every time you use it.
Simply put, guilt is a toxin, and a weapon of cowardice. So I recommend that you never rely on guilt to move or motivate yourself or anyone else. There is always a superior alternative.
Reject guilt, stay clean and cultivate your self-respect.
You actually have a lot more freedom than you think, because you have the freedom to believe whatever you want to believe.
Now, most people feel that this is inaccurate, because they tell themselves “I want to believe I can succeed & win., BUT I’m plagued by doubts that I can.” The truth is that if you’ve passively decided that ultimately you “can’t win”, it is because you find some form of SECURITY in holding that belief, regardless of how much you feel you want to win.
The Bottom Line: As long as you feel any SECURITY at all from holding on to negative beliefs, you will be hard-pressed to move forward and live your potential.
PS. Remember that clinging to feeling SECURITY doesn’t always feel particularly “good” or “comfortable”; in fact it most often has a tinge of “sacrifice” to it – for good reason too.
“I’m such a loser!” vs. “Suck it up!” This comparison illustrates the critical difference between self-pity and self-discipline. The former is toxic, the latter makes you powerful.
It is really quite simple: You never need be tough ON yourself, which means that attacking yourself is pointless. Doing so is just self-punishment, and there is never any benefit or value from it; it is simply a form of self-indulgence.
That said, make sure you don’t confuse self-punishment with what really does have benefit & value: Self-Discipline. Self-discipline means being strict & tough WITH yourself, not tough ON yourself.
Look, we can all use a kick in the pants from time to time. So when it’s your turn, remember to actively reject any inclination towards self-indulgence, and embrace self-discipline instead.
“Suck it up, buttercup!” And smile knowing that you’re gaining ground every time you do.