So many of us want to make a difference and so few of us believe that we can. But as human beings we were designed to dream, to create, to imagine, to express ourselves to share ideas, to progress. We don’t try because we don’t believe we can and we fear failure, we fear looking foolish, we fear the brutal consequences we imagine must lie in wait for the brave and adventurous. There are those who inspire us, those who teach us, those whom we can aspire to follow. And we can follow, we can be as brave and adventurous as anyone we know or have heard of. First we must shatter the myth that these brave and adventurous people know no fear. The fact is that those who ‘dare to do’ fear all of the same things that you do. The difference is that they don’t allow these fears to prevent them from pursuing their dreams and they fear other things more.
They fear dying without ever having truly lived, they fear being left with too many what ifs, they fear finding themselves at the end of their lives with a list of ‘dreams to do’ that have all been left undone. They choose to live “yes I can” not “no I couldn’t”. They choose to live LARGE.”
It is not the easy or convenient life
for which I search,
but life lived to the edge
of all that I may be.
– Mary Anne Radmacher
Erma Bombeck’s “If I had my life over” are about living life in the present, and about doing what you really want to do instead of what you feel others expect you to do, or what you feel you have to do. They are struck such a chord because she realised once it was too late that life is short and your time should be spent on what makes your heart smile and on the people you love. I hope she lived the rest of her life on the back of the wisdom she gained through perspective, and was gentle on herself too, because we do the best we can with the resources we have at any given time.
Isn’t it good, though, to be reminded that life is about love, fun, living life large and joy in little things? If you had your life to live over, what would you do differently? Spend some time writing about that in your journal. Forgive yourself for mistakes you made knowing they got you to where you are now; forgive others for things they did knowing they got you to where you are now. Wasting another second on bitterness or regret is wasting a precious second you won’t get again, so turn your face towards tomorrow. Know that NOW is where tomorrow starts, and NOW you can make the choices that are going to serve you best and allow you to live life the way you want to live. Now you know what advice you would give your younger self, what parts of that are things you still want to do or live by. Figure that out, and then just do it. Do it!
Wisdom is all around you. I asked some friends what they would say to their younger self, if they could live their life over, and I love these replies:
Karen Spohr works as an employment law consultant for a major blue chip organisation, and said, “Do with your life what YOU want rather than what you think will give you more kudos from friends, partners, and family members……….”
Marcia Christian is a teacher and counsellor and said, “Care more about how God feels about you than others do, in other words, live knowing that you are the apple of His eye and so invest in this relationship above all others. Life is an adventure with Him. It’s a good exercise, making me feel incredibly blessed by my heavenly Father, doting on me…but I didn’t really realize then and am only beginning to do so now!”
Liz Farrell is also an employment law consultant and sits on employment tribunals. Her sister had a very sudden stroke while still a relatively young woman, and she says, “Value your relationships, they are not guaranteed – family and friends will not always be around – so don’t regret how you treat them now.”
Linzi Paton works for UPS and has survived a very difficult childhood. She says, “I would say to be more aware of people and their behaviours; how, if you let them they can offer you a multitude of experience and support or they can suck your energy dry. Listen to their points of views about relationships, jobs, travelling etc but do not ever let them control your decision. Once you have made a decision, they are not the ones that will either reap the reward from it nor are they the ones that suffer from that feeling when you have made the wrong ones. You control your own destiny – believe in your self and enjoy what the world has to offer.”
Madaline Alexander is a Service Manager with a Cancer charity, and a specialist in hypnotherapy for parents and babies. She says, “Don’t ever think that you are too old to do ANYTHING – no matter how old you get, you will always look at people who are younger than you and think “they are still so young”. ……So long as you are fit enough, just do it and enjoy every minute of it! That way you will always think you are young. Enjoy life!”
Kerry O’Connor is currently on a career break helping with a charity in Africa. She says, “Fate definitely steps in sometimes so remember even big mistakes can lead you on to something else valuable that you wouldn’t otherwise have found, i.e. by taking the perfect path, and you’ll be a better person to know for it in the end (even if it may really suck in the short term!). And it sounds like a cliché but enjoy your parents while you live at home (or they are around helping you get to university, organise your first car or flat or acting as you’re PA whilst you are overseas!) – I guarantee that whatever kind of relationship you have or however many fights, you’ll always miss them throughout any part of your life that they are not around & might regret losing patience with them when they were as you reach the same life stages & choices that they did – you will be very lucky to find others in your life who are anywhere near so unconditionally committed to your happiness so let them know you appreciate it once in a while. Don’t wish away time rushing through achievements just ticking boxes – enjoy the journey (e.g. poor student years but your time is largely your own) – you’ll realise there are years & years ahead to enjoy being sorted/responsible so make sure you have sampled every place, taste and experience you can possibly fit in before you even think about settling down – time speeds up more than you expect the more adult years you get under your belt & the ‘to do before I’m 30′ list should be long enough that you have to start now to get though it all – being 30 (or knowing that is your next milestone!) will still be scary but at least you will have loads of fantastic friends & memories to cushion the blow.”
Alison Lawson is a freelance business consultant, and says, “Now, the present, is all we have, so use it wisely. Fill it full of things and people you enjoy. Love and honour every moment and do not waste a second of that time on people who chose not to love and honour it with you. Never look back. Love and care for yourself – in doing this you will give those around you permission to do the same. Suit yourself more than you suit others. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else they are more screwed up than you think. Travel extensively and take the time to enjoy the journey. Slow down, take your time and savour every moment.”
Rosie Toner works in the arena of sexual health and says, “’Never give up – follow your dreams’ ‘develop your intuition, it will service you well, ‘trust yourself’ ‘laugh a lot’ ‘play safe and insist he wears condoms! If I was to choose one I am afraid it would have to be ‘play safe and insist he wears condoms- to keep all avenues covered so to speak!”
Mary McPherson, founder of The Relaxation Company says, “you can only do whatever makes you feel good – listen to the voice inside which gives you that feeling and went on to say.”
And perhaps my favourite comes from Jane Talbot of Humans Resourced. She says, “”As you live recklessly and freely now…do it forever. As you love now…freely and with abandon..love like this forever.. As you feel alive now..feel like this forever…”
If you had your life to live over, what wisdom would you pass on?