I was recently at a holiday celebration dinner where the conversation was vibrant and fun. One person asked if we had ever thought about what was undone in our life, what had we not done that we needed to do. I was immediately taken aback, but as answers circled through the many people ahead of me, I had plenty of time to really think about my answer. It was going to be a while before they got to me—it seemed like forever—so I started doing this inventory of what I have done over my life and my career. It was actually getting a little overwhelming as the people around me said what was undone in their life and we all had a short discussion of each one. So, let’s pause here and let me ask you the same question. What is undone in your life?
This question also got me thinking about people in my life, those that I admire most and why. For many reasons, one thing kept coming at me and that was “shots on goal.” Now, I know you are probably wondering where I am going with this, but remember this was all my thought process within minutes of going around the table to answer the question I mentioned above.
So let me explain what I mean by shots on goal. I mean that the people that I really admire have all taken as many shots on goal as they can. In fact, most miss. Only some get in. But these are the individuals that create unbelievable new businesses or are incredibly successful entertainers. You could probably name many of them, and the one thing they all have in common is that they are not afraid to take shots on goal or take action when needed. These are the type of people that you might ask if they have done something like Bungie Jump or climb Kilimanjaro —and not only have they done it, but they usually top it off with something bigger.
We all know this type of person and respect them. We might even roll our eyes at them a little sometimes when they start telling the stories of their exploits. But anyway, the fact is when an opportunity comes up, they take advantage of it. It’s one of the things I love about being with this type of person.
Then I started thinking, is this the way to eliminate all regrets in life? What if we just take advantage of every situation as it comes along with reckless abandon? Okay, sounds fun, but only for a second, right? Could “Regret Avoidance” be a call to action?
Then I recalled one night, before I got on an international flight I got up at 3 am and wrote a note to everyone close to me. I made hand-written changes to my will (with a picture to authenticate it) and then the very next week made sweeping changes to my estate and estate planning —changing bequests and moving parts around for the benefit of others. I did what I felt was right, and the point is I took action at that very moment and to this day, I am so happy I did.
So, shots on goal, are you actively living life doing everything you want to do? Are you jumping on opportunities when they surface? Are you going out, hanging out, enjoying quality time with family and friends? Are you living everything in this life to the fullest. Are you having fun, being a little kid again?
As a new friend recently asked me, “Can you skip?” I said, “What?” She said, “You appear like you can skip like a kid!” All these thoughts were racing through my head as I though about my answer to the question what was undone in my life.
So, finally the discussion was coming around to me. I started thinking how, early in my life and career I missed many more shots than I care to remember. I probably take more shots today because of those early experiences. I still have many misses —but less and less all the time. Oh, that’s a good conclusion, I thought!
Suddenly I noticed that there were only two people in front of me. There had been so many people who answered that guess what, they forgot me! (So whew! I made it without having to come to a conclusion.) Then I did get called out by someone who said, “We haven’t heard Anthony’s “undone” yet.”
Quickly, I thought that there are two types of regret: one type is what you have for taking a bad shot on goal or doing something you shouldn’t do in the reckless-abandon pursuit of “Regret Avoidance.” These are regrets of action. The second type of regret is the kind brought on by not doing something or not taking that shot when you had the opportunity. Those regrets are brought on by not taking action.
My mind was processing as fast as it could, and I was checking boxes… Lived a purposeful life? Okay, kind of —so, check. Accomplished in my career? Okay, kind of —so, check. But one thing stood out to me. Have I really loved someone outside of my family unconditionally—without an agenda, without a destination, without any expectations? Have I totally enjoyed the journey, with all it’s accompanying brokenness? I realized right then that was my entire brain trust came to that conclusion. My “undone” was not loving unconditionally. Whewww! Where did that come from?
Then through the evening, I gave this more and more thought. In fact, much more thought about those sneaky regrets, the ones that you “should have done.” I even googled for more insight and came across the 5 statements below from a 2012 Huffington Post blog called “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”
- I wish I had the courage to live true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I would of stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Not sure I have to explain these further. My “undone” was definitely in the number 2, 3, 4 zip code, but as most all of you reading this know, you are all very successful in everything you do. You are incredible and awesome. The only reason I am writing this blog is that I have made it my goal for 2016 (after the roundtable discussion at the celebration dinner) to make sure I do not have any regrets —especially regrets of non-action. I want to go full-bore into unconditional love, which will be a new experience for me. So next year, if I am asked what is my “undone,” I hope I won’t have any.
So what’s your “undone?” Here’s to taking action and having no regrets in 2016!