Here’s a question for you: Are you living a life true to yourself or one others expect of you?
Ah, a big question, I know, but I’ve found in this coaching I do that big questions usually lead to big answers and some are better addressed sooner rather than later.
I recently read an article about a book called “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware. It’s the story of her experience as a caregiver to the dying and how her life is changed by the reflections and regrets of those she’s cared for.
The regret at the top of that list was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” That’s a tough one to wrestle with at the end of our days. So let me suggest it might be a good idea to be conscious of this earlier in the voyage.
Yachties are in an interesting position with this. Perhaps you’re just doing this work for now, you know, until your real career gets going. That’s OK, as long as you embrace your now. You can definitely live true to yourself in yachting if you are fully engaged, are grateful for where you are and enjoy contributing to a program larger than yourself. If you can feel some joy and satisfaction in what you do, that’s a pretty good indicator that you’re living true to yourself.
Does that mean you’re meant to do this for the rest of your working life? Absolutely not, our purpose and desires in life will change with our growth and development. It’s one of the cool things about this whole ride so enjoy the process. But as long as you are here, doing what you’re doing, show up fully and you will be on the right path.
If you just go through the motions at work or in life, you won’t take away from the experience nearly as much as someone who is conscientious with their heart in the game. In the words of Dr. Kate, a former classmate in my coach training, “be someone who gives a damn.”
So, if and when the time comes to move on from the yachting industry, that is the time to be conscious of the second part of that life regret statement: to not live the life others expect of you.
Are the reasons for your moving on coming from within or from the outside? This can be a little confusing but here is something to consider; if the voice you hear is harsh and critical, it’s probably coming from what you’ve internalized from others. Your true inner voice, your true inner wisdom, is never harsh, critical or judgmental. It is a gentler guide that offers clarity and points you in the right direction.
There is a wonderful quote from author, educator and civil rights leader Howard Thurman that states “there is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the end of strings that someone else pulls.”
There is a lot to learn from these regrets of people near the end of their lives. Yes, others in your life may be uncomfortable if you’re not fitting into the box or the place they think you should be. But you know what; they just have to get over it. How you feel about where you are and where you’re heading is what matters. I often tell clients that it’s a great day in your life when you finally stop caring so much about what others think. You feel a great relief, a great weight removed when you start operating from and believing in the power of your own convictions and inner wisdom.
There is no set time frame for this. Everyone puts the pieces together at different times. Just try to get in touch with that inner compass and feel the flow in your life start to carry you. Kind of reminds me of that little song we all learned as children, you know, to row your own boat, row it gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, because at the end of our days here, life is but a dream.
Rob Gannon is a 25-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (www.yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments on this column are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.