Tony Campolo is an American pastor, author and sociologist. A few years ago, he surveyed 5o individuals who had reached 95 years of age, and he asked this simple question:
“If you could go back and live your life differently, what would you change?“
Let’s be honest: the only 95 most of us will reach is in mph if we ride a roller coaster. So instead of waiting several more years to answer this question, take a minute and ask yourself that “simple” question now.
Here are the 3 common trends Tony found from the respondents:
1. I would have reflected more. We all get so caught up in DOING, that we rarely put aside adequate time to ponder what we are really accomplishing. By investing time in contemplation, we learn to evaluate our progress as individuals. And that allows us to celebrate our successes. Reflection also allows us to make adjustments when we find that we are heading down a path that will lead to regret.
2. I would have risked more. The allure of the “safe” status quo is compelling. We erroneously believe that if we don’t rock the boat, the boat will not rock. But the longer you live, the more you realize that rogue waves come from many directions. You might remain motionless and yet still be thrown over board. The greatest threat from avoiding risks is missing out on opportunities.
3. I would have invested more in things that would live on after I’m dead. As morbid as it sounds, ask yourself what your epitaph would read today. Do you like it? Does it highlight the things about which you are most proud? In this physical world, you can leave a legacy by erecting a monument with your name on it. Or you can invest in others like your children and loved ones, your friends, people in your community and, at work, your employees.
If you could go back and live your life differently, what would you change? Few of us could say, “Nothing.” But the good news is that you’re not done yet. What can you do to minimize your chances of looking back with regret?