Fiddler Jones is a character in Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. Again and again, he chooses to play his fiddle at gatherings of all kinds, instead of working his land or making money. Here’s how he sums up his life.
“I never started to plow in my life
That someone did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.”
Most of us don’t feel that way. We’ve got regrets. Psychologist Dr. Melanie Greenberg defines “regret” as: “blaming ourselves for a bad outcome, feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been, or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made.”
During the last recession, my family sat with several years of cash. We were scared and so we played it safe. We bought nothing. We drifted. Other folks captured half price condos and houses.
We could have done better. We could have been like Fiddler Jones by acting. Instead we sat on our cash. I’ve regretted that choice for a decade. We could have acted but we didn’t.
That hurts. Psychologists tell us that when we look back over our lives we are more likely to regret the things we didn’t do and the opportunities we missed. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos calls those, “the things that haunt us.”
The Choice is Yours
You can decide to act, or you can decide not to act. Both decisions are choices, and both carry risk. But you’re less likely to regret a decision to act. Drifting, like procrastination, is both a thief of time and also a grave of opportunity.
When you choose to act you can do things to lessen the risk. Our team help clients limit risks every day. Drifting is not risk free. Drifting means that the current picks your destination.
What will it be? Will you choose to act or will you drift?
Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.”