As uncertainty permeates every facet of our lives, be it personal or professional, and with survival dictating the course we must endure in this pivotal era in history, it is natural to become relatively more introspective.
The unprecedented crisis the Covid pandemic presents raises an array of existential questions in all minds. Were we fulfilled prior to these unprecedented circumstances? Have we done everything to maximize our potential to achieve all of our ambitions? The silver lining of this existential cloud bearing down upon us is our opportunity to take inventory of the life we’ve crafted so far and map out a blueprint for the life we wish to forge during and after these trying times.
Our once-familiar standards of life have been disrupted; in the midst of such a reset, however, we can fortunately restart life today with an aim to live with less regret and more deliberation, more focus.
My name is Bo Parfet; I am a mountaineer, explorer, philanthropist, author, impact investor, and CEO of my own company. With my wife, Meredith Parfet, I founded Denali Venture Philanthropy. Our vision at Denali focuses on financing humanitarian-focused entrepreneurs whose business philosophies aim to drive social and environmental change.
My commitment to living a life with less regret has taken me from an investment banker on Wall Street to the world’s highest peaks.
With only a cursory understanding of mountaineering, I embarked on a mission that would ultimately become an eternal passion. I was committed to climbing the seven highest mountain tops on each continent. My initial expedition was to Mt. Kilimanjaro, in Africa, with subsequent excursions to Vinson Massif (Antarctica), Mount McKinley (North America) Carstensz Pyramid (Oceania), Mount Elbrus (Europe), Mount Everest (Asia) and Cerro Aconcagua (South America).
Threats of starvation, exhaustion, drowning in crocodiles-infested waters, death drops, complications with local militias, and run-ins with unscrupulous military officials exacerbated my team’s already treacherous aspirations. Through it all, the lesson I learned from these mountain climbing exploits laid the foundations of my thinking around how to “live life to the fullest,” something that most will always say and few will be able to successfully do.
Regrets can range from the mundane and inconsequential-such as missing out on the fun or not trying a new hobby-to the life-altering variety, such as balking at a sound an investment opportunity, or not exploring a potential romantic connection. Additionally, research shows that we tend to regret what we don’t do, more than what we did.
Most mistakes are almost always fixable, and provide excellent lessons that prove to be a powerful engine driving further personal growth. In fact, the fear of failure that keeps so many idle tends to play a central role in seeing them let their dreams pass them by, leaving them second-guessing themselves and their choices. My advice: avoid spending those final moments bemoaning deathbed confessionals, and create a legacy you can cherish today. Below are active choices to embrace and make right now to prevent you from future regrets:
Leave Your Comfort Zone Behind. Climbing the highest mountain peaks on all seven continents gave me a lot of perspective on the value of exiting your comfort zone. Pushing yourself past your edge forces you to persevere and rely on unutilized strength to combat the fear of the unknown. You won’t succeed on every venture, but the alternative of not exploring your limits is likely to end in you lamenting what could have been.
Keep Your Work-Life Balance On Its Axis. What makes one’s life unique? It isn’t a job title or professional prestige. While those can afford you resources and stability, they are but a means to support and pursue what fulfills you the most. Family, friends, memories, experiences, hobbies, passions, and philanthropic pursuits are what truly give us the strength to work tirelessly. It’s essential to strive to achieve your fullest potential in your career, but don’t lose sight of the lasting rewards that define a fulfilled life.
Let Your Passion Propel You. Every great story adheres to a theme. The theme is a compass, and it guides all the characters to their destinies. Your life’s purpose should be at the center of all of your decisions. Define what motivates you and commit to that cause. You’ll never veer off course if you let your aspirations lead the way.
Vulnerability is Your Ally. Constructing walls and protecting yourself is often necessary in business and life. Instinctually, we want to reduce the amount of emotional harm we are subjected to; however, allowing oneself to be vulnerable in certain instances can have lasting positive effects. Even if rejection and heartache are a byproduct of your vulnerability, these are merely lessons that affirm your truth when acceptance and love find you.
Meet Adversity With Relentlessness. Giving up is an unencumbered express route to regret. When trials and tribulations present themselves, the fight you put up is how you will end up measuring yourself. You won’t rethink confronting conflict, even if it results in defeat, but you will opine on whether or not you gave maximum effort.
Choose Your Convictions Over Criticism. Feedback is a critical element of the maturation process. However, amplifying judgments of your value can have harsh consequences and lead you astray. Start by determining your convictions, and stand by them for the long haul. If your principles are rooted in the foundation of all your actions, you will have a built-in immunity to external critiques of your decisions. Doing so will prevent you from mourning your efforts and second-guessing outcomes.
Be Present During Leisurely Pursuits and Outdoor Activities. Going through the motions when re-energizing one’s self is a missed opportunity. From bold adventures to reconnecting with nature, using the occasion to appreciate your surroundings during the quiet moments can spark inspiration and create inner peace. If you make the active choice to notice that which is so often overlooked, you’ll enrich your appreciation of the human experience.
This once-in-a-lifetime global crisis, which has put our lives on pause, has made it starkly clear that none of our plans are permanent or promised. We may not get tomorrow to start the journey towards our largest goals. You won’t regret what you get wrong, but you will regret not giving your all to break free from the status quo and learning all you can in the process.