A friend of mine is celebrating his birthday today, and as I was writing to him to send my wishes, it reminded me of a question I got asked on Monday night when I was giving a talk about 'how to quit your job and follow your dreams'. A lady in the audience said that as she gets older, she finds herself being less willing to take risks because she's got more to lose now, and she asked me, how can she overcome that?
In response, I told her that I actually see things the other way round.
I don't see it that as you get older you've got more to lose. I think you have less. With each day that passes, you're one day closer to your death. You've technically got LESS to lose with every day that goes by.
I also referred to Steve Jobs famous commencement speech at Stanford University, during which he talked about how his cancer diagnosis affected his outlook:
"Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."
What's important to note here is that the above statement applies to us ALL, even those without a terminal illness. We are ALL going to die soon, it's just that Steve Jobs had an estimate of when. We don't.
"I'm older, and I've got more to lose" is just a story, and it's your choice whether you subscribe to the story or not. The former U.S. President George H. W. Bush commemorated his 85th birthday with a 10,500-foot skydive. He clearly didn't adhere to that story, and neither should you.
To further support this, Bronnie Ware, a nurse who spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives, reported that the number one regret of the dying is this:
'I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.'
She writes: "This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."
If you have a passion inside you, a dream, a desire, a longing to change, the BIGGEST risk you face is NOT pursuing it, and getting to your final moments and passing in regret.
Don't take that risk.