I heard a talk years ago from a man who researched end of life regrets. He visited with seniors in nursing homes and hospice care. The number one regret expressed was not what they could have done for others; it was what they did not do for themselves. They spent their lifetimes sacrificing their dreams to take care of family, community, church, and as they filled their life with serving others, they set aside their dreams. If they had followed their dreams, they would have been an even greater service, or had a larger impact, to those they crossed paths.
Les Brown speaks of imagining you are in your death bed. What surrounds you is all your dreams. They point to you and tell you, “When you die, we die with you.”
So, what are your dreams? What have you pushed aside that you will later regret not doing? What great vision will die with you that should not? What may be the one thing you can leave as your legacy?
Many times, a dream is an inner desire that does not ever get expressed. Those around you do not even know you have this inner driving passion. Instead, we set it aside to take care of and help others. All the while, our dream can be the one thing that can change a life, influence many, or shine a light that will never get turned on. People often say they do not know what their passion is. I do not believe that. They are comparing themselves to others and the success they see others have. You do not have to have a dream someone else has already fulfilled. Your dream is uniquely your own. It is there you have just buried it. When you connect to who you are, your God force energy and divine spirit, it is there. It may just be a planted seed that you need to water so it can begin to grow into fruition.
We talk ourselves out of our dreams by focusing on our limitations, our handicaps, our lack of education, our race, culture, or financial inability. Those are just excuses, so we do not have to commit to ourselves because we are scared to try something new and different.
We run through our minds all that people will say to us. You are not smart enough; you are not some big named celebrity, who will want to listen to you? You do not have the education those others have. It is easy to find someone who will support our doubts. You need to see the vision of what God sees. You have this inner pull to be more, so you must begin seeing the future as that reality.
As you begin, or if you have been working at the dream for a while, resistance will show up. People will always be there to tell you why you cannot do something. People will openly share why you cannot succeed. They are coming from their fears, places of limitation, and the blocks they have erected in their life. The opposition is not a truth for you unless you allow it to be. Many people are pessimistic when what you need most is optimism and encouragement. Unfortunately, most discouraging people are those closest to you. They do not want to see you hurt and disappointed.
You have got to be hungry for that burning desire in your gut. You must fortify yourself and believe you can have your dream. It would help if you remembered the death bed of regret. The excuses you use to talk yourself out of something can be flipped on their head and used to build something amazing. The excuses you use to talk yourself out of something are often the very reasons why you should be working towards it.
Following a dream is not an easy thing to do. Sometimes the road is lonely. Sometimes you must make sacrifices to achieve the beginning. You must keep a clear vision of who you are becoming and learn to no longer focus on who you were.
I wanted a better life. I was broke, almost homeless, beaten down by an abusive relationship. I knew my life should mean so much more; I did not know how to get there. So, I left everything behind and ran to where I could begin building the life I knew I deserved. Literally, I left everything behind. I left Tennessee with my clothes and a laptop computer and moved to Houston, where I could find opportunities and begin building what my vision is. The new era was an extremely hard time for me, but it was the sacrifice I had to make. The most amazing results came of it. By doing what was right, following my dream, I taught my kids by example, to step out and follow theirs as well. My oldest daughter graduated college as Magnum cum Laude, my son stepped out of special education, and he received the A/B honor roll. He is now entering AP high school classes next year. I am now working toward writing a book and being a motivational speaking worldwide to help encourage people to grow into their dreams and be the best version of themselves.
Your one small act can encourage many to be so much more; to do great things themselves. That is how you leave a legacy. Do not talk yourself out of your dreams. Begin building them today. Create a vision board, start writing a script for your new future. Talk as if it is already happening. Start small. When you see one success, then get a little bigger. Build the life you can be proud of what you accomplish. When it is your time to pass, your spirit is at ease, knowing you lived the full life you should be living.