Regrets – Boldness

by Ron Potter

In Daniel Pink’s latest book, The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward, Pink lists four core regrets:

While I haven’t fully read this book yet, it seems like the perfect next sequence after the series of being afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down that I recently wrote from Paul’s ancient text to the people of Corinth.

In this second of Pink’s regrets, Boldness talks about the lack of boldness to “accomplish a few important goals within the limited spat of a single life.”  This lack of boldness seems a lot more urgent at age 74 than it did at age 24.  That’s not unexpected because of the age difference but it’s important to be aware that accomplishing some things will only happen at a younger age.  At some point, it becomes obvious that there is just not enough time to accomplish some things that you had intended to accomplish all of your life.  So it’s important to begin those things that you would like to or intend to accomplish in your life when there is still time to accomplish them.

Why Boldness?

It takes boldness to start early because:

  1. It’s difficult to carve out the time to accomplish something out of the ordinary when it seems like your everyday life is overtaking you at the moment.
  2. It also means that we must overcome the fear of failure when we start a new venture early in life.

You might be saying to yourself, “I’ll be more equipped to do something bold when I have a little more experience.”  Or you might be thinking, “Once I get through the busy part of my life I’ll have more time to dedicate to that bold idea.”

Looking Back

The subtitle of Pink’s book is “How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward.”  This seems evident to me now that I’m in my mid-70s.  It’s easy to say that “This is something I might have accomplished 50 years ago.”  It’s more difficult to think that I should have started five years ago.  There’s still a lot of time left to step out and accomplish that bold idea.  After all, if I could accomplish the task in 40 years, I could surely accomplish it in 35 years.  This is just an excuse for not stepping out in boldness and pretty soon that 35 years turns into 30 years until it’s too late to accomplish it at all.

I have a grandson who is a world-class bicyclist and I would like to go riding with him.  But today that would be impossible.  And yet, I’ve seen some 70-year-olds who could at least stay with him for a while.  The difference is they started when they were young.  They didn’t put it off.

Moving Forward

Plan.  Start.  You want to be better athletically, pick your sport and start today.  You want to be better at chess, start today.  You want to be healthier, start today.  Whatever it is, start today.  Don’t put it off until next year or when you turn 40 or sometime in the future.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t expect to accomplish your end goal immediately.  Start small.  Pink says “accomplish a few important goals.”

This means you know what is important.  This means you’ve planned.  This means you’ve taken that first step today.  You’ll be able to look back a year from now and be astonished at how far you’ve come.  You’ll be amazed at what it looks like in a decade or two.  But if you don’t start today, you’ll be looking back on that year, decade, two decades from now thinking “what if?”  Or thinking “I could have.”

Decide, Plan, Start

First, you need to decide what will be important to you.

Then, you need to build a plan for accomplishing your goal.

Finally, start today.  Just small steps.  But start!

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