What You Need To Remember About Taking Risks To Live Without Regrets
Close your eyes and fast-forward to the end of your life. You are at the end of your journey here on Earth. You're lying on your deathbed, with only a handful of waking, conscious human breaths left.
You look up, and your glazed eyes meet those of the loved ones standing around your bedside. As you look around, you start to reflect on the events, people and circumstances that have led you to this point.
You're at the point where the number of beats your heart has left can be counted on one single hand. You're at the point where your lungs are experiencing their last intake of fresh air. As you reflect, what comes to your mind in these last waking moments?
Will you be thinking about the hours you spent in the office, or will you ponder upon all the moments you were able to gaze deeply into the eyes of those you love the most? Will you dream about the amount of money you were able to accumulate over the years, or will you smile as you remember all of the times your significant other made you laugh until your stomach ached with pure joy and happiness?
Will the big house you lived in ring a bell in your memory, or will you think about the spontaneous road trip you embarked on with your closest friends over that summer, long ago? What about your clothes, your shoes and your accessories?
Will those flash into your mind? Or instead, will you remember that time you were able to contribute to someone in need as he or she bowed to you in gratitude and thankfulness?
Lately, I have come face-to-face with many decisions in my life. My school, my job and the overall direction in which my life was going were all at question (and still are, for that matter).
As someone who does not particularly adapt well to difficult decisions and change, this has not been easy. I have caught myself spending countless hours feeling anxious and uneasy about what's to come ahead of me.
I knew it was time for a perspective change and a different way of looking at these turning points. But, I did not know how to go about this.
For lack of a better word, I was feeling stuck. Until one day, a whole new way of looking at these decisions dawned on me: the deathbed perspective.
This is the point of view of a person who has little to no time left in this world, and the thoughts of a person whose opportunities have already come and gone. This idea kept flashing in my head, time and time again.
If that was me lying on that bed, which decisions would I be pleased with? Which ones would lead me to feelings of regret? Would any of the things I'm feeling anxious about even be relevant?
I pondered on this idea and way of looking at things for quite some time, until I recently decided to do a bit of experimenting. Every time I am faced with a decision I think will be difficult, I make the choice to pause for a brief moment.
I fast-forward to myself on my own deathbed, looking backward. This is a time when I know the only thing on my mind will be the experiences that brought me the utmost emotional exhilaration. It is in this moment that a strong feeling of clarity seeps through my body, as if it has been there all along, waiting for me to let it run its course inside of me.
I suddenly know exactly what I need to do. I will choose to make a decision that will ultimately lead me to a feeling of pure ecstasy. If neither of my choices lead me to this feeling, I will create a new option or a whole new path.
I will choose the path that will allow me to feel free, adventurous and brave. What I will not choose is the decision that I know in my heart will ultimately lead to regret and despair.
I will most certainly not choose a path because it's deemed normal according to society or the people around me. In our last moments, we will think not of the amount of times we made decisions based off fear or the demands society has placed on us. Instead, we will think of the treasured memories, the laughter and the people by our sides.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
— Steve Jobs