Some of us have very little tolerance for those who suddenly decide to have their own little pity parties and begin crying in their beer about what might have been or how much better their lives would be “if only” this or “if only” that. Yeah, all their whining, complaining about the unfairness of it all can really be bothersome. Sometimes it’s all we can do to keep from giving them a good tongue thrashing.
I, on the other hand, having sang the blues a time or two myself, am a bit more merciful, and have the bite marks on my tongue to prove it. After all you have to admit sometimes life does seem a bit unfair. But when you consider that these pity parties aren’t about life’s pitfalls or hard knocks, the old loser’s lament “woulda, coulda, shoulda,” gets old real quick. Truth be told these occasional bouts of self pity are about our own deep seated fears, failings and poor judgments. Yep, opportunity knocked at our door sometimes more than once, and we were just too damn stupid or afraid to answer the freakin’ door!
Every heard someone start sounding off about what might have been if only they had done this, that or the other. “You know the tune, “Things could have been so different, I coulda, if only I woulda, and God I shoulda.” Some call it the ‘loser’s lament,’ but that’s not right. It’s not about winning or losing anything, it’s about missed opportunity, and not being willing to take a risk, it’s about being afraid to step out of your comfort zone and fear of failure. All of us have experienced missed opportunity at some point in our lives, ranging from minor to life-changing. The one thing they all have in common is that an opportunity presented itself and it was missed. Like the great fishermen’s tale, it’s the one that got away.
Through the years I’ve certainly heard my fair share of loser laments. Usually it’s older people who have their regrets but ever so often I have students come into the guidance office singing the blues, with all their ‘if onlys’, feeling sorry for themselves. Sometimes what they are lamenting is so minor but I listen to them, try to reassure them and remind them that they have a lifetime ahead of them to do things right. It’s the older lamenters that trouble me. Those who are in their twilight years who have lingering regrets and plenty of time to dwell on them.
I will never forget sitting down with my dad, a Teamster truck driver of over forty years, one afternoon, and listening to his tale of missed opportunities. There were two. One involved an offer he received to go into the trucking business with a friend. He turned it down and the guy went on to form a major industrial trucking firm worth millions. The other also involved an offer from a close friend, again he said no and that friend went on to build a successful motor home company, a race car team, and much more. He retired to his horse ranch near Lake Tahoe in his early fifties. Yes, my dad had some regrets, I remember him saying, “I’m still kicking myself for not taking a chance, it would have changed our lives.”
That was over 35 years ago. A time when I was trying to make some major life changes of my own. My dad may not have realized it but that little talk became a major inspiration to me. I did not want to be the 57 year old man lamenting my missed opportunities, I didn’t want to be the “woulda, shoulda, coulda,” guy.
After carefully considering my options and with my wife’s full support, I made the decision to change my life. It was a scary time. I quit my job, got a part time one and pursued my long time dream of going to college. In 1983 I returned to school and earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
Taking a risk is not easy to do and needs to be carefully considered. Deciding to take a chance and acting on it, takes a personal sacrifice of time, energy, ability and knowledge. Once your decision is made you need to follow through and perform the action with full consciousness of the risks, pros and cons and potential outcome and accept the consequences of the action your about to undertake. Fully understanding the risks involved will better your chances of being successful.
Believe me, I know it’s hard to leave our comfort zone and venture out into the great unknown, but when opportunity presents itself, particularly life changing opportunities, risk must be taken. It will be well worth it. Down the road you don’t want to have regrets. You don’t want to be that “Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda” person…
Just a thought,