All of us aspire to success, to provide for and create the best possible future for our families. Yet sometimes our pursuit of these very things takes us further away from actually making them reality. Because while working and getting ahead is a good thing, is it the only thing in life?
This question is brought home to me more and more since living in China. So many I meet day-to-day are working 16-hour days, leaving families behind to work in other cities to provide money for their families, totally missing the childhood of their kids with their whole being, their whole life revolving around their titles, roles and positions at work. This, being where their whole identities come from. Children are groomed for ‘success’ from the moment they are born and, in all honesty, even before they are born. All conversation, from the moment of conception, is based on being in the best schools, to gain the highest qualifications, to get better paid jobs, to be ‘successful’.
Of course, Chinese parents are not alone in this endeavour. I am providing only a snapshot of a much wider picture. Learning from their perspective has definitely opened up a different view of my own upbringing and childhood of my children. It has also helped me get clarity myself to ensure that, while I may not have balance (by choice), I do have a life! I do love to live a colourful and fulfilling life outside of what I do for work, even though I still love what I do for a living.
I often refer people to a great book that I enjoyed reading a while back, called “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing” written by Bronnie Ware. In her book, she chronicled her experience with patients who were at the end of their lives. When she questioned them about the regrets that they had, a common theme emerged. The top two regrets were given as:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
I am very passionate about the first regret. I really love to help others find themselves, their true courage and confidence to create change in their lives to be themselves and shine their light out into the world. And the second regret is more where I want to focus our blog on today, for both men and women.
Because no matter who we are and what we do, there needs to be a clear distinction between what we live for and what we do for a living. The two often get muddled, and so many on the path to success leave behind a path full of broken hearts, distant relationships, and failing personal health. There is no point being famous, a star or a success when you look back at your life with regrets.
And, it all comes down to choice. Instead of offering up excuses, make a conscious choice on what you want to spend your time and energy on. To ensure you’re on the right track, there are three questions to ask yourself:
- What do I value the most in life?
- Who do I want to share my success with?
- Is my time and energy aligned to meet my short term goals and long term priorities?
If you answered no to the third question, you are heading down the path of regret. Do not blame time or the lack of it, a very common reaction! If you run your own business, there’s always a new project to start, a new customer to pursue, or a new technology to try out. You’ll never be out of work to do. Having run my own business, I know the drill! And no matter how hard it seems, ultimately it’s still all about choice.
Ask yourself at the end of the day: In 10 years, will I care about this? If the answer is no, then it’s probably time to get out there and throw a ball, have a laugh with your partner, catch up with friends, help your son or daughter with their homework. Remember the people you want to share your success with at the end of the day and make sure you’re there for them, and vice versa, in your journey to success.
Because while working and getting ahead is a good thing, it’s not the only thing in life! Don’t live to regret it!
Are you ready to make change happen – take back your life? Book a 20-minute discovery session with me to see how I can help you build your confidence, create change and begin living the life you desire. Book a discovery session here and join my Facebook group Quantum Leap for Women