I have a confession. It pains me to admit it, because I had decided, in my younger days, to never commit the same mistake.

When I was little, I went up to my relatives and asked a simple question, “What was the biggest mistake you made in your life?”

The resounding theme? Inaction.

Inaction: lack of action where something is expected or appropriate

“I wanted to be a doctor when I was young. I read all these medicine novels but I never asked anyone how you become a doctor. Didn’t even consider college. But I had always wanted to save lives.”

  “Before he passed away, I never told him how much I loved him. People around me tell me that he knew, but I never told him nonetheless. It eats me up sometimes, especially at night when everything is quiet. Just like the quiet moments we shared together.”

Missed moments. Missed opportunities. I had decided to grasp at everything I could. Instead of making the same mistakes, I wanted to learn from others’ regrets.

Unfortunately, many of the mistakes in my life have been riddled by lazy, illogical inaction.

Most recently, there was an internship opportunity that I waited to apply to, thinking that I could always get around to it later. When I did send in my resume, I found out that the company had already hired another intern.

The list does go on, of times when I missed out. A list of my woes, however, is not the point of this piece.

While I will probably never be able to catch every single opportunity that presents itself, there are crucial steps that myself and anyone else with this problem could be taking to curb their inaction.

 

Reexamine priorities

 

There are many ways that I waste my time. The biggest vice by far being a certain movie/TV show streaming service that I am sure many college students also spend a lot of time on. However, not everything I watch adds value to my life. Instead of watching a show just to kill time, I should find a way to spend my time enjoyably. I cannot get back the time I spent watching a mediocre show. Moving forward, I would much rather pursue my hobbies or passions.

 

Establish habits

 

Similar to inspiration, motivation does not always flow naturally. Jack London, prolific author, once said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Getting me to apply for internships, write new articles, and do my reading when I am not motivated feels painful at first. Waiting for motivation, however, is a surefire way to fail. Rather than waiting for a surge of determination (fueled by caffeine or guilt), we must establish habits to get us started.

Moving forward, here are five habits I seek to establish in the upcoming year:

  1. Write 1000 words/day—get this blog up and rolling
  2. Exercise 30 minutes/day—especially with practicing kata for karate
  3. Read two news sources/day—stay connected to the world
  4. Play piano for 20 minutes/day—keep hard won skills sharp

Will I miss more opportunities in life? I don’t doubt it, but nevertheless I am going to be ready to catch the next one. Are you?

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