I was talking to a friend last night. He hates his job; it’s obvious he hates his job. Whenever anyone asks him what he does he tells people it’s boring. The job, well it comes with a seven-figure salary. More than anyone I know he is in the perfect position to make a change, so I asked him why doesn’t he just quit?

Yes but

Those words are like a death knoll. They are a sign of resignation and a perception that you have lost control over your future.

As you get older another but is added to the list; the mortgage, children, etc. The optimism of youth becomes weighed down under the drudgery of work and the humdrum existence of a nine to five office life. People from my parents’ generation, most of whom have spent 40 years working have just resigned themselves to this. In fact for many they have been looking forwards to the light of the tunnel that is retirement, the last but… Thought maybe not.

Here is a list of the top five regrets of the dying compiled by an Australian nurse who cared for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

It’s a simple list, yet it is filled with the silent but, from the past. It is a lament of the failure to make decisions that could have brought happiness, yet were overlooked, because of circumstance. After all, there was always time. Yet those choices were never acted upon and in the end there was no more time.

Almost everyone has something in their lives that they wish they could change or simply want to change. For some those changes may seem unobtainable, but the opposite is true. The only person that can make those changes is you.

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second best time is now.

I recently came across this simple Chinese proverb that inspired me. As I near my 31st birthday, there are many things that I look back on with regret and opportunities that I missed or chose to overlook. While I can’t change the past I’m doing my best to create a future that will make me happy, which starts with travelling and doing a job that I love.