"I wish I had..."
On more than one occasion I had heard my grandmother utter those four words followed by regrets of dreams that had been unfulfilled. At times I had tried to offer her encouragement, telling her that it was not too late, but lack of motivation and the slow progression of dementia prevented her from pursuing her dreams.
Eventually, the dementia had progressed to the point that she was no longer able to take care of herself and she was admitted into a nursing facility. At that point, I realized it was too late for her to follow her dreams, but, at the same time, I began thinking about the accomplishments in my life that had not been achieved.
Every year, I rang in the new year with a list of resolutions that I would end up breaking within a month. That was not to say that I would not accomplish anything during the year. Not content with staying in one place, I always worked to advance myself -- get my degree, learn more about my industry, and strive to be more efficient at my job -- but as I did, I placed the minor goals on the back burner, saying that I'll have time to do them later.
Unfortunately, with the daily demands of life, later never came, and, as one year moved towards the next, I found dreams were being left unfulfilled. If I had any hope of moving past the "I wish I had..." I had to find the time, the means, and the courage to achieve my goals.
I have since identified my dreams, creating a list of goals that I review throughout the year as I work towards achieving them. Some of the goals have led to new ventures that I had never considered (i.e. while attending an open house to register for drawing classes, I discovered the art of stone carving). And, after a year and a half, I can not only draw a portrait that actually looks like a human being, but I have a sculpture that I carved from a slab of alabaster. With each task I accomplish, I enjoy the feeling of being able to say, "I'm glad I tried it."
As we enter a new year, I challenge everyone to identify something they've always wanted to do, even if it is something as simply as baking the perfect birthday cake or as complex as sky diving. Identify what prevents you from achieving your goal, what steps you need to accomplish your goal, then, finally, start working towards achieving that dream.