Taking inventory of what weâ€™re capable of doing and can potentially accomplish while weâ€™re still breathing is something we should all do. Itâ€™s really just a matter of identifying what we can, want, and needâ€”then prioritizing to get things done. Trying to maximize our potential may help ensure we leave this earth with fewer regrets.
Whenever the daily grind wears on me, I stop to think about three things: birth, life and death. I think about how fortunate I am even to be breathing. Itâ€™s amazing how many billions of people were born, lived, and died prior to my existence. And Iâ€™m betting billions of individuals are going to live and die long after Iâ€™m gone. For reasons unknown, our numbers (my twin brother John and I) were finally drawn in 1971â€”birth is quite the winning lottery ticket. Of course, every ticket of life often lasts less than 100 years, which is a small window of opportunity in the overall scheme of things.
Taking life for granted is a human flaw and, for whatever reason, most of us struggle to live to our full potential. By definition, potential is the capacity or ability for future development or achievement. One of the worst things anyone can say about you is that you had potentialâ€”which means you donâ€™t have it anymore.
Iâ€™ve yet to meet anyone who didnâ€™t have it; in fact, I believe we all have potentialâ€”itâ€™s the gift of being human. But Iâ€™ve also met plenty of people who failed to capitalize on it. Certain hardships and losses are obstacles that can get in your way and stifle your life, if you let them. The death of a close friend or loved one, losing a good job, bankruptcy, divorce, tough childhood, serious injury, or enduring a severe sickness are things people around the world experience. Theyâ€™re all experiences the opposite of easy, but theyâ€™re also a fact of life, and itâ€™s our own responsibility as individuals to work through and overcome them. Donâ€™t, and you wonâ€™t tap into your own personal potential here on earth.
Putting forth effort to achieve your goals is part of maximizing your potential. Itâ€™s completely healthy to work hard to achieve great things in your career. Maybe you want to be the best walleye angler in the world. Great, go for it. Maybe youâ€™ve dedicated most of your life trying to leave your mark in the fishing industry. Or maybe youâ€™ve worked all your life striving to make millions of dollars. All impressive accomplishments, but thereâ€™s more to life than being a hard worker, great angler, millionaire, or a television star.
Most of us struggle to dedicate time and effort to whatâ€™s really important. We put off spending time with our family and friends because weâ€™re too focused on a select few aspects of life. Some of us put off the most important things we know we should do today until tomorrow, next week, or even next year. Yet, we fail to consider that we could die at any moment.
I have to drive home from work today and thereâ€™s a chance I could get killed in a serious car accident two hours after I write this column. Sad to think about, especially when I consider all the things I still want to do. I want to spend more time trying to catch more and bigger fish than Iâ€™ve ever caught. I want to spend more time hunting and enjoying the outdoors with family and good friends. And I want to become a better outdoor writer and photographer. But I also want to be the best son, grandson, brother, uncle, husband, friend, and the best dad in town according to my children. I want to help peopleâ€”big, small, young or oldâ€”whenever the opportunity presents itself. And I want to call an old friend and catch up on his life.
Use your next free moment to consider making an inventory of what you want to do, what youâ€™ve been doing, and what youâ€™re capable of accomplishing with the time you have left. You may have to reprioritize your life a bit, but youâ€™ll likely still have time to fish, maybe even with an old friend.