Last Wishes at Last? Why Wait? Please Do it Now!



I took a personal development course a number of years ago and I recall the instructor discussing the importance of taking action in achieving a better state of being. He referred to a conversation he had with a career hospice nurse to make his point. The nurse was asked to summarize what message would come from the dying, if she had to succinctly summarize their perspective as life ended. Her comment was, “Be nice and do it now!” In fact, her contention was that people reflecting on their lives regretted more what they didn’t do versus what they did.

The other day I was reading Dan Pink’s blog and he referred to a study by Mike Morrison of the University of Illinois and Neal J. Roese of Northwestern University asked 370 Americans about their lives’ deepest regrets. Overall, there wasn’t a difference between regrets over actions taken versus actions not taken. Prior research had shown that regrets focusing on action were more common than those focusing on inaction. But people regretted inaction far longer than actions (there are other interesting aspects of this study you can read about in Pink’s blog). I think this observation by the Northwestern research may reinforce the more anecdotal summary of the hospice nurse and fits with my observation. So what are you waiting for – do it now! Please don’t be 90 years old wishing you did something.

Ok, I recognize that this is easier to say than do, so I have some guidelines to help you turn inaction into action. Fear is one of the big blocks to action. Another barrier is not having a model and mind set for action and decision making. The following includes recommendations from Marelisa Fabrega’s Abundance blog and Rosalene Glickman’s book on Optimal Thinking.

Character Moves for Taking Action. Whenever you begin to feel afraid ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I afraid of?
  • What is the best way to overcome this fear?
  • What action can I take to get over this fear, or to act in spite of this fear?

Write down your answers to the questions. Sleep on it and reflect on your answers. What are you afraid of?

Apply the core of Glickman’s Optimal Thinking action framework:

  1. Define the problem.
  2. Define the time frame in which the decision needs to be made.
  3. Make a list of all your possible options.
  4. Eliminate any options that are unrealistic.
  5. Write down the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
  6. For each option, rate each “pro” and “con” and rank (where a “10” means that it’s important, and a “1” means that it’s not important at all).
  7. Score each option. For each option, add up all of the points for the “pros” and all the points for the “cons”. Subtract the total for the “cons” from the total for the “pros”, and that gives you the score for that option.
  8. Choose the option with the highest score.
  9. Then make the decision. Take the action. Execute. No Fear meets up with reasonable and rational optimal thinking.

No regrets because of inaction in The Triangle,