"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it" Unknown
"For what it's worth; It is never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you are proud of, and if you find you are not, I hope you have the strength to start again" F. Scott Fitzgerald
We've all felt that overwhelming sense flood over us, thinking we haven't achieved enough or wanting more from life; that twinge of regret that causes you to ache for what could have been. The challenge, though, is to not allow past disappointments and current dissatisfaction to shackle us to the point where we feel immobilised; helpless to let go of what cannot be changed or reach for what could be. It smudges the lens on our lives in such a way that it hinders us from seeing and appreciating life as it currently is and noticing the tools we have that can help us embrace the process that lead to different, more fulfilling, outcomes to the ones we've become accustomed to.
Our world bombards us with messages and opinions about what should matter to us, what our lives should look like, what defines success. Then before we know it, we've made myriads of choices and forged out lives based on expectations that we've never challenged or stopped to question and answer for ourselves. If we took a moment to pause and wipe the lens of our perspective clean of the smudges our regrets have left, what do you think you'd see instead? Maybe you'd see interests, dreams and passions that had long been pushed aside by more practical priorities or dismissed by others or yourself, as unimportant or unachievable - so you left them behind. 'But so much time has passed now', you think to yourself, 'Too much effort to go to.' Pause for a moment. Imagine what your future self might think as they looked back at you in this moment. Do you think they'd want you to stop more often, risk a little more, be okay with being uncomfortable more often, so they can look back and instead of regret, feel satisfaction and gratitude for those moments you chose to be a little bit brave? What if these moments are closer to you than you realised?
Sometimes we can think of the words ‘brave' and ‘courageous' as being these big, audacious concepts that exceed our current capacity, and that to be so, would only add more pressure to the weight of the lives we're already struggling to balance. But the truth of the matter is that the essence of being brave and courageous is as close to you - as achievable - as allowing yourself to be vulnerable and honest in what can seem to be the simplest and unassuming of moments. When you think about it, our circumstances are ultimately the summation of a series of many ordinary moments in which we thought, felt and acted - based on what we were focused on at the time, what was driving us and what we thought was supposed to matter to us. If our current circumstances do not reflect what's important to us, then somewhere amongst the moments of our life, we have either added to or subtracted from who we really are, by the choices we've made within them.
Being brave starts with that single choice, in that single ordinary moment, that you're suddenly aware you are in and can, therefore, own what you do with it – it's that simple. What have we got to lose by pausing the momentum of our lives briefly enough to lend a few successive moments to think about what really drives us; what really matters to us? When you weigh it up, it only need take a few moments of our time to ultimately change the face of our lives to more authentically resemble our hearts. It might seem like you're wasting time doing so, (isn't there always something else that you could or should be doing?) but ultimately you could gain countless moments that you end up relishing rather than regretting. If you break it down to another level, then all it takes is one small moment of bravery added to another small moment of bravery…and before you know it, these little choices - these little acts of singular bravery to choose what really matters to you even if it scares you a little, makes you uncomfortable, or takes some effort to achieve – can multiply into a succession of moments that ultimately lead to outcomes that you never dreamed you'd see become a reality in your own life.
This could look like acknowledging when we spoke a wrong word to someone and seeking their forgiveness because they matter to us more than our pride, putting our work down to spend the afternoon with the kids and not allowing that deadline to diminish who you work so hard for, or taking that something you have always loved but repeatedly put in the ‘one day' or the ‘too hard' basket and taking that first little step towards starting it right now rather than later. For me, it usually means showing up to that commitment despite how ill-equipped or unqualified I feel to be there. Every time I push through the initial discomfort, I am always relieved that I did so - no matter the outcome. Because practising bravery, despite whether the outcome is favourable or not, only breeds more confidence to be brave with something else - that something else that might just matter even more to you.
It is so easy to have regrets and wish we had done thing differently, but we don't have to allow ourselves to stop our thinking or actions there. I know it can sound cliché, but though we can't change who we've been or what we've done in our pasts, none of it need ever be wasted. With just a single decision in a single moment, we have the capacity to introduce a little courage into a once barren and wasted time of our life and choose to use it to fertilize and nourish the decisions we still have ahead of us. But we'll never know any different while we believe that bravery and courage can't exist within the very moment we now find ourselves in. The difference between how it has looked and how it could look herein rests with that one small decision you know you can make right now. It only costs you a choice. But the value it could ultimately add to your life could end up being priceless.