Big transitions are good times to take a broader look at our life and ponder this title question. As we celebrated my middle child’s high school graduation this weekend, I marveled at the opportunities ahead of these young people. Not only academically or financially, but the chances that they will take emotionally. Relationally. Tries at love. Risking loss. Being adventurous. Hurting. Believing in invincibility. In vulnerability.
I have mentioned many times in the past that I have made quite a few mistakes in life. And while I try to not live focusing fully on my regrets of the past, I do have them… and a lot of remorse as well. For those of you who might not know the difference: regret is when you feel badly that you did something, most likely because of how it impacted you. Remorse is when you feel bad because your choices hurt someone else. I know that I have some regrets and even more remorse.
At the same time, I know that my choices led me to where I am today. I know that I can like myself and also have some regrets. I love my life and trust that no matter how much I think I would prefer to have no negativity, I 100% believe that we learn and grow most from mistakes. And, with those mistakes could come some regrets.
So, what I would have done differently? (If I could flip a switch on these big choices, but not have it alter the things I love in my current life, like my marriage, my kids, my location, etc. I think you get what I am saying…)
There are so many! In the spirit of graduations and rites of passage, here is my academic and professional list of what I would do differently:
- I would not be tied up with a boyfriend in HS and into college. I could have benefitted a lot from more alone time, self reflection, and definitely from making more connections personally and academically at that point in my life. Plus—he was a great guy, and he didn’t deserve the way I treated him in my most selfish years.
- Not drinking like a lush when I was young. I have some super fun party memories, and so I can’t say that I would not drink at all… but I also made many regretful choices surrounding way too much alcohol (and far beyond having a hangover).
- Focus more seriously on athletics.
- I would have been more invested in my education— in high school and in college. I would love to have my master’s and my Phd (and while many things are options in my life, paying more toward college tuition with three kids in school is not currently feasible!)
- Keep writing after college.
- Dreaming bigger when I started my career as a coach. Believing in my professional worth immediately.
I could go on… but I don’t think you have the time or interest in reading the longest list ever.
Obviously, I can’t change the past.
What else can I not do?
- Decide that I now know what is right vs. wrong for other people.
- Ensure my kids, friends, family, athletes, etc don’t make the same, or different, destructive choices.
- Benefit from dwelling on circumstances that I cannot change.
- Blame others or make excuses for stupid decisions.
- Grow if I smother these choices in toxic positivity.
So, what can I do?
- Live in the present and move forward, doing the best I can to make decisions out of my current value system.
- Keep believing that I am worthy as I am now.
- Vulnerably put myself out into the world.
- Humbly learn. Listen. Trust.
- Stop judging others for their choices, and instead extend more empathy and grace to those around me who need it.
- Not be too proud to apologize and make amends.
I can move forward confident that I will continue to make mistakes— and know that is okay.
I can encourage all of you to be present. To keep moving forward. To never stop dreaming big and setting big goals. To not let others define you. To live unafraid.
The other day while chatting with a girls softball team, I asked them why they play their sport. One of the girls responded with, “It moves quickly, so you always get another chance.”
I get it, girl. And I agree. I love this about coaching and participating in endurance sports. You can go in unafraid, because you most likely will always get another chance to apply what you have learned. You still might regret that error, or not training as much or as hard as you could have, but you can also move forward. You can learn. There is likely another chance.
Keep living big— whether you are 18 and just getting started, or 88 and know your time is limited. You can acknowledge how you would have done things differently, and you can learn from your mistakes to create a present life that you love.
There is always another chance to Dare Mighty.