When Bronnie Ware did research on people who were on their deathbed, she noticed the same, few deathbed regrets.
There’s no doubt that you’ve heard this list before:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I didn’t work so hard.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
What surprised me the most was that she never shared why they didn’t do these things, and I have a simple theory.
Why Most People Don’t (And Won’t) Ever Go After Their Biggest Dream
It would be easy to say, “oh, most people wish they had the courage to listen to their own intuition, rather than follow the beaten path.”
Well, congratu-fucking-lations, everyone complains about not doing what they want.
But that would be like criticizing a crackhead or beggar on the street, and saying, “what a pitiful, disgusting sight,” without even wondering for a moment how the person ended up there, or why.
The invisible – what’s behind a person’s acting or not acting – is what is the catalyst and origin of everything in life.
And in terms of a person’s life – work, romantic relationships, friendship, spiritual growth, passion projects, travels, adventures, books they want to write – the invisible is also the most important.
Work – People Say They Want to do Their Passion, But Don’t Do Anything About it
Almost everyone I know bitches and moans about their job.
So you would think – one would think – that this would be an incredible catalyst for change.
Friday – yay.
Monday – fuck.
Friday – yay.
Monday – fuck.
I repeated this cycle for literally years until the pain was bad enough that I started building what I wanted to build in my life.
Why don’t other people do this though, if they spend nine hours a day bitching, for years on end?
Not knowing what their “passion” is? Sure.
Not knowing what to do next? Of course.
Not having clarity or business skills? Definitely.
But when I interviewed people who joined my private mastermind, what I heard most often was simple:
What if I can’t hack it and I have to go back to a job?
What if I fail and my friends and family think I’m a fucking loser?
What if I don’t make enough and I can’t quit my job? Then I have to keep doing this forever?
Every. fucking. thing. reeked of fear.
It was always those “what if” questions.
And it was my own realization that the reason why I eventually made it, feeding myself doing what I want to be doing every day, was because of only one thing.
I finally had the most courage I ever had in my life.
Romantic Relationships – People Say They Want Love, But When They Get it, They Run
The irony of romantic relationships is that everyone says they’re looking for love, the real deal, and when they get it, what’s the first thing they do?
They freak the fuck out and run away!
This level of self-sabotage is almost an irony of cosmic proportions.
And nothing, and I mean nothing, shows how fear dictates how we act, more than how people behave in romantic relationships.
Everyone has been crushed by someone at one point or another in life. I even know people who have committed suicide over love (like entrepreneurship). Many others just retain those scars later for life – low self-esteem, being jaded, not showing up 100%, and not really giving a shit.
But the irony remains.
People say that they want the real deal.
They listen to the love songs. They watch the movies and go “aww, I want that.” And then the guy or the girl shows up, and the intensity (because they were used to bullshit and 50% effort) is so strong that they go into fight or flight mode.
They freak the fuck out.
Could anything be more laughable?
Travel – People Say They Want to Travel the World But Are Afraid of Terrorists, Rapists, and Drug Dealers
When I recently went to Colombia, I heard the same thing from everyone:
Don’t get kidnapped by drug dealers!
And the irony is that of all the places I’ve been in the world – 40-50 countries – I’ve only been almost mugged in a few of the “most safe” places on earth.
People say they want to go to places that look like this:
… And yet the fear (the irrational fear) stops them from doing the exact thing they want to do.
We know what we want.
We know where we want to go.
We know the experiences we want to have before we die.
And yet we ignore the exact, internal calling that is guiding us there.
We shut off the inner GPS, pour an extra tall glass of wine, and think, “fuck it. I’ll get around to it later.”
But at the end of the day, we lost.
We chose the fearful, easy life, over the brave, conscious one.
Writing a Book – Almost Everyone Wants to Write a Book, But We Say “I Just Don’t Have Time”
There’s a short thread on Quora, asking, “Why Haven’t You Written a Book Yet?” and the responses are intriguing.
They’re interesting because you can spot the bullshit.
What people say (the physical reason), and what’s truly behind it (the invisible, remember?) are very different.
Oh, I If you had asked me that question prior to 2003, I probably would have said that life was busy, I was spending too much time at work, and I probably would have sounded quite wistful. Your question would remind me that my younger self had many, many dreams of becoming a novelist.
My own books (at least two) are in progress, and will get more of my attention as I move into retirement.
If you were obsessed with writing a book, you’re telling me you wouldn’t be able to squeeze out 30 minutes of writing time a day, even if it took ten years?
If you were obsessed with a guy or girl, you’re telling me you wouldn’t be figuring out the most romantic dates and adventures, even while at work?
Of course you fucking would!
You would do anything to figure it out.
You would write any chance that you got.
You would spend all damn day thinking of the most romantic dates.
You would do anything to make it work.
The real reason, the reason that maybe even they are not aware of, is the one inside themselves. Fear.
Because it’s easier not to ship that book, and risk the “failure” of selling no books, or the “failure” of getting criticism, than it is to write the book, and ship.
It’s way harder to put on your big boy or big girl panties and write the fucking book in your soul, to decide not to be the “runner” in the relationship this time because you’re actually terrified, to decide that you’re going to figure out how to turn your passion into your career, to decide that you’re going to go on that adventure in South America, to decide to live a brave life.
It’s way harder to step into the arena of life, where real sweat and blood and tears are shed.
It’s way harder to go after what you love, whether it’s work, a person, or something inside of you that you have to get out, because anytime there is the potential for love, there is the potential for massive fear.
Your Biggest Dream is Also Your Biggest Fear – And That’s Why You Must Go After It
Your biggest dream, dream job, dream person to date, dream trip, dream project to work on, dream business to start, dream book to write, is right fucking there. Staring at you in the goddamn face.
But your biggest dream is also your biggest fear.
And that is why you must go after it if you want a fulfilling life.
The biggest dream is also the scariest thing you will ever go after, because it is the biggest growth move.
Sometimes it has the most uncertainty, the most difficulty, the most pain (in the short-run), and the most anxiety.
But it’s also where the magic happens.
The decision to be brave and write 100 words in your book, is the decision that leads to you being a full-time, published author in 5 years.
The decision to be brave and book that trip to a country your friends are scared of, is the decision that leads to you having one of the most amazing trips of your life.
The decision to risk actually caring in a relationship and not running away, is the same decision that leads to you meeting the person you ultimately marry and are happy with.
The decision to write out the strategy plan for your passion or dream job, is the same decision that leads to you waking up years later, and doing what you want every single day.
But all these come down to making the brave decision today, not the easy one.
Not the fearful one.
Not getting another fucking drink at the bar because you’re too afraid to quit your job or scale down the hours or have that conversation with the guy or girl you’re smitten by.
Not being a coward and being the person who runs away from what they want in relationships, because they’ve been hurt before and they don’t want that to happen again.
Not feeding yourself some bullshit excuse about time, when you really want to be an author, or a comic out in LA, but you aren’t doing anything about it.
Not telling yourself, “you’ll get around to it,” which is the laziest excuse that attempts to mask fear.
The day you realize that you can get anything you want in life – financial success, passion, your dream partner, travels, peace of mind – and that it only requires one thing, is the day your life changes.
That one thing is guts.