Do you like tests and exams? If you do, you are certainly unique. When I was in school, I hated exams. I was always concerned that even if I had spent adequate time studying, a question for which I was not prepared would show up. Love them or hate them, tests and exams are inevitable. There are some classes in which your final grade is determined by the score on your final exam, regardless of your performance on homework assignments and other mid-semester tests. The stakes are high for these types of tests; it can feel like two hours are determining your entire future.
The “rocking-chair” test of life is the ultimate final exam. It is the test you take when you have reached the end of your life and you are sitting in your rocking chair assessing what you have accomplished – your thoughts may include the people you loved, the places you visited, the colleagues with whom you worked, and the friendships you established. You may think about friends and relatives with whom you lost touch, or cousins you no longer speak with because of some petty argument. What will you think about when you take the “rocking-chair” test? Here are a few things I guarantee you will not say to yourself:
I wish I had worked longer hours
I should have yelled more at my kids
Missing my daughter’s dance recital three years in a row was worth it!
Passing the “rocking-chair” test means having as few regrets as possible. No one is perfect; there will always be aspects of your life where you could have done better. The good news is that you have the power to take action now.
I was sitting on the train this morning writing the first part of my message to you. Just as I reached the end of the above paragraph, a dear friend from business school came to sit with me. She said, “Look whom I found?” She then said, “It’s great to see you, but I don’t want to distract you from your work.” I chose to finish this message later so that we could have a much-needed catch up conversation. It was a good decision, because I don’t know when I’ll see her again.
Take actions today that will make you look forward to your final test in life. When you are sitting in that rocking-chair, you will be able to say, “I was not perfect, but I have no regrets.”