I recently reconnected with a friend who had lost his wife earlier this year due to COVID. It was sudden; it was surprising. It had been six months since her passing, and he had wanted so much to have services for her that would include her family on the other side of the country, but due to the circumstances, he settled on a small local service that was recorded for her family to watch from afar.
When I spoke with him, his grief was still very apparent; mourning is rarely linear, and he said how he had circled again and again to make sense of what had happened. After some comfort and conversation about his plans for next year, he ended our call with something that would catch my breath:
“Nico, I will never regret the choices we made, the money we saved or spent, or the trips that we didn’t get to take – I only regret the time that she spent waiting for me to pull the trigger on those things. That is time that I’ll never get back.”
My friend is calculated and pragmatic; he prepares careful budgets and comes up with contingency plans for any foreseeable risk. He and his wife had lived together for many years before getting engaged, just in case they weren’t a good fit, and then they took another two years in planning a wedding, to see if their spending habits aligned.
In view of life’s curve balls, I would bet that he would do things differently today.
We can never know 100% if something is going to work. What we can do is take responsibility for our decisions and our lives. In the past, I’ve talked about the 70% rule – that we can make a pretty good decision based on most of what we know about a situation. Then, we have to make the leap – and correct course if necessary.
Every so often, I’ll have a client come to me saying that she feels stuck. Her relationship isn’t going the way she wants it to, her life feels heavy and unfulfilled, and she’s concerned that nothing is ever going to change. This is when the tough love comes out:
“You know, of course, that you always have the choice as to where your attention, focus, or direction in life is going to go. My dear friend, what are you waiting for?”
We wait far too long for someday – or, for someone else to save the day – whether it’s in a relationship, a career, or happiness itself. The hard truth, of course, is that it all comes back to us.
The lovely thing is that none of us have to wait for that magical future. We all have the option to make that good stuff happen right now, today.
If you’ve been feeling stuck, ask yourself where responsibility may be misplaced. What activities bring you joy that you’ve recently ignored? What drew your attention before you began to focus on the problems in your relationship? How can you feel whole, loved, and happy, so that you naturally show up as a better sister, a better friend, or a better partner?
If those things that light you up aren’t an option today (say, travel – ugh!), draw out those feelings that inspired you, and relive those memories of past trips that you may have. Close your eyes and see the outdoor markets and smell the spices in the air. Put together a journal of where you’ve been and where you want to go. What would you do, what would you wear, what choices would you make? How can you be more of that woman today?
Make the choice to focus on what you like and what you want – the how will come later. You may realize that in fact, your life has been waiting on you.