“We only regret the chances we didn’t take.” –Lewis Carroll
Have you ever regretted having NOT done something?
That person you should have asked out on a date? The trip you didn’t take. The job you were offered… and declined.
It stays with you, right? Regrets follow us around for years…sometimes for a life.
Which brings me to my point – Why is it that so many highly capable, mid-career professionals end up hating their jobs? We minimize ourselves instead of doubling down on ourselves, right?
The biggest life decisions are rarely announced with clanging bells and rice throwing. In retrospect, for many of us – the most profound decisions often come from seemingly forgettable moments – a returned phone call, a subway conversation, accidentally sharing the same drink at a poolside bar (true story).
Every day, every moment – we make choices that define who we are and where we are headed. Seriously…We are the only species on the planet who gets to decide if we want a PBJ or a salad for lunch. The only one.
This simple act of choice is staggeringly powerful, and yet for many of us it is a squandered resource.
By one estimate, we make roughly 35,000 choices each day, and often the most important life choices are ignored, deferred, or minimized. We choose comfort today rather than growth. But it does not have to be that way.
See, we are each given one small spark of madness and the trick is to never let it go out. But what is the spark?
An investment banker who went back to the inner city where he grew up and committed to make it better.
A CIO who decided to teach disabled children how to ski, and got his whole company involved in it.
A roofing contractor who works on weekends to conduct personal transformation workshops for literally thousands of people.
See a pattern? Finding your spark almost always involves a deeper challenge, a passion, and larger-than-you service work. It takes courage and commitment.
Here is the good news about small choices that rock your world…they are small. Keep learning, keep listening, stop talking so much.
So you don’t need to change the world today, just take the next small step. Here is how you will know that you are following the bread crumbs:
It will feel scary.
You will find yourself talking to people you normally would not.
It will disrupt your normal schedule.
You may be sheepish or embarrassed to tell your friends you are doing it at first.
You will feel like a beginner.
You will make mistakes.
Find your spark, and you will open the door to the next chapter of your life.