My Biggest Regret

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A couple months ago Sarah over at Yes and Yes did a series about the advice you would give to your younger self. It made me wonder…

What would I tell myself if I could travel back in time?

There were so, so many things, my brain went into overload. So I put the question on the back burner and went about my day, which turned into weeks, and then into months. When finally, one day, a thought popped into my head. Of all the things/advice/musings I would share with my younger self, it all boils down to 3 words.

It’s not over.

IT’S NOT OVER! (you idiot!!)

I can not list here all of the goals I gave up on, the projects I abandoned when I was younger, because I had a series of setbacks and thought, “Well, I guess I’m not supposed to be doing that. It’s over.” I cried for a while, was totally devastated, and then tried to move on to something else.

Now that I’m a little older, I realize that time is fluid. While it is true that we are living in this present moment, this moment is also part of a timeline that stretches into the future. A very distant future composed of billions of moments that we can’t see or predict.

So you didn’t get the job you wanted? It’s not over.

Your co-worker who doesn’t work as hard or as many hours as you do got the promotion you wanted? It’s not over.

Your Etsy shop isn’t taking off like you thought it would? You guessed it, it’s not over.

So, stop comparing your life to the lives of the people around you. We all know those people that have everything come easy to them; the girl that gets every promotion, or the one that stumbles in to selling her handmade jewelry online to have it go viral and be featured on the cover of Forbes and Cosmo during the first year of the launch.

That’s great, for them. Be happy for those people, and mean it. Their story is not your story. There may be a reason why you didn’t get the job. Things may be happening that you don’t know about that will put you in the position that you need to be in to succeed. Don’t give up on yourself before it’s actually over.

Part of being a mature professional means that you keep going. You keep trying to figure out problems in order to put yourself where you want to be. Sometimes winning is just a matter of staying at the task longer than anyone else would. Circumstances will always morph from what you thought they would look like into reality. The only thing you can control is your attitude and the amount of work you put into whatever you’re doing.

Let me give you an example.

Recently on Master Chef, a reality tv show in which home chefs compete to win the title of “best home chef”, the contestants were tasked with cooking an animal’s internal organs. Now, these are home chefs. Most of them don’t cook organs on a daily basis. Brains, testicles, heart, it was all there.

One young chef who was very talented was given brain. He immediately said something like “Send me home now.”

In the end, he cooked the brain perfectly (he deep fried it so of course it was good), but because he had already given up on himself, his side dishes were lack luster, and he was sent home. He was sent home, not because of the main challenge but because he gave up on himself. He threw it away for himself.

This is such a hallmark of being young, foolish, and putting limitations on your abilities when you *think* you can’t do something.

Now, on to professionals who know that it’s not over…

In this impossible, impossible relay race during the 2008 Olympics, the Americans were in second place by a huge margin. Everyone had given up hope of them winning, even the perpetually hopeful announcers predicted that it couldn’t be done. In later interviews, the man who swum the anchor leg for the team, Jason Lezak, would say that he had given up too many times in his life. He decided he wasn’t going to give up during this race. He decided he was going to win.

And then he worked hard. And he did it.

There are so many videos I could show you. I’m sure you can think of examples from your own life of “come from behind” victories that professionals seemed to will into existence.

That’s the thing about being a mature professional. You know that even when things look down, it’s not over. You aren’t defeated yet.

This goes for everything we do in life.

How often do we say that the food we cook didn’t turn out right?

We don’t do the professional thing and taste to adjust seasonings and ask ourselves what we can do to fix the dish. We just give up on ourselves and throw it out/feed it to the dog/make ourselves eat it.

Same goes for decor. “This room isn’t right, it’s just not how I pictured it. Uggggggh! I don’t know what to do, I give up.”

I still struggle with this. But the truth is that one thing, one light, one picture, one vase can change the room. You just have to keep going until you find it.

The difference between successful professionals and depressed amateurs is attitude, perspective, and tenacious perseverance in which you look for the opening that will enable you to use your hard work and talent to “win” (whatever winning means in that situation).

It’s not over my friend.

If you have a story of your own tenacious perseverance I would love to read about it in the comments below.

Sending you love today.



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