A young woman in her 30s shared her goals with me recently and described how she felt an urgency “to do something soon”, because she was afraid that in ten years she would be past her prime productivity in life and not able to make the impact that she wanted.
Have you worried that life is passing you by, and that pretty soon it will be too late to go after your dreams? Or that it won’t make a difference to commit to some positive change for yourself because the damage has already been done?
Have you had these thoughts before?
Are you thinking these thoughts now?
In every thought that we have, there is some truth, but there is also some untruth as well.
Creating an accurate view of the world requires us to use different mental models to create balanced perspectives. It also requires us to question our limiting views and beliefs, so we can shift into positive thinking that will be more productive for us.
True, it’s possible that some of our dreams and visions need to be executed over years, perhaps lifetimes. We may only get the outcomes we want through careful planning and execution, taking advantage of opportunity, and some luck.
True, sometimes life throws us surprises that cause us to shift course – for example, a geographic move, the impact of starting a family, a necessary change in career, changes in health, or death.
In the most basic way, we don’t have any direct control over those matters. Those are circumstances of our lives.
Remember, circumstances don’t create meaning. We do.
We have control over the way we choose to view the hands that we’ve been dealt.
We can decide ahead of time that any length of time that we get to be on this Earth is important.
We can choose to live the purpose we’ve each chosen (yes, you choose your purpose), to shift that when needed, and to find meaning in all aspects of our lives.
We can decide that it’s never too late, and that we have decades of meaningful, productive life ahead of us.
If life throws us a curveball, we decide how we will define things. What does it mean for something to be “meaningful” and what does it mean to be “productive”? What is enough?
Exercising this deliberate control over our minds can help us to cultivate joy and appreciation right now.
It can help us live not from a place of urgency (e.g. “I have to…”) but rather from a place of agency (e.g. “I get to…” or “I decide to…”).
It can remind us that for as long as we are living, we are the ones that decide if the show is over.
So, let’s decide to not cut our time short.
Let’s decide to explore, be curious, and tap into all of the potential that we were meant to unleash in each chapter of our lives.
Let’s decide that we can make plans for decades of dreams fully lived, but live right now with mindfulness that let’s us love where we’re at.
Because the solution to living a regret-free life is not to just have done all that you wanted to do. The solution is to appreciate and love your life right now, for all that it is.
By defining the meaning and purpose of your life now, and living each moment with the energy that this creates, you can then not only create more of the life that you want, but importantly, love more the life that you already have.