“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent…”
If you watched the movie Bronx Tale then you’ll know that’s a quote from Robert De Niro’s character, as he’s trying to connect to his mobster loving son over making the right decisions to live the best life.
We'll think of this line when we see good people damaged from bad decisions or someone not living up to their abilities, and it’s usually said with hints of disappointment and envy.
I remember late adolescence into early adulthood when family, friends, and teachers, would always tell me that I never lived up to my potential. What potential? I’m 18; I show up and do what I need to do then have fun with my friends, not like I was going to change the world.
I didn’t realize it then, but they were right. I was coasting through life not fulfilling my potential. I took this coasting very seriously; only putting in minimal effort to go forward and not showing any concern for the things that mattered most; my health, relationships, and work. The only thing I took serious was getting to the next party and how many drinks I could finish in one night.
This habit of coasting was a lifestyle for 14 years of my life; sacrificing my youth, relationships, opportunities to become a better person, and especially my liver.
The only times that I got out of coasting mode were during desperation; a job review, trying to get back with an ex, or being in bed for days with a massive hangover. The efforts were short lived and I’d be back coasting in a few days.
Coasting is a byproduct of not having gratitude. I slowly understood that I was very lucky to have certain people in my life and never being thankful was just taking those blessings for granted, like they'd be there forever.
As I gained this understanding, I reflected to see the people and opportunities that I disregarded because I was obsessed with the wrong things in life. It made me sick to my stomach.
Defeating this coasting mindset took a lot of work; it began with changing my mindset. It begins each day with being thankful for everything positive in your life and learning from the negative then removing it. It's loving yourself and knowing the fruits are worth the efforts of your labor. It’s going to bed at night, asking yourself; did I have a good day? Did I help anyone get ahead today? What can I do to make tomorrow a great day?
It’s impossible to immediately start living a max effort daily lifestyle because you’ll burn out and resort to coasting. Like a muscle, putting in the work takes time and builds over time. Week by week you can increase what you’re trying to accomplish and gauge if it’s enough.
Once you reach what you deem to be living up and not down, then it’s healthy to take time off to coast, like a vacation or a cheat meal; to enjoy what we’ve gained and recharge. It gives time for reflection; knowing that you’re living life to the fullest, and realizing that there’s nothing sadder than wasted talent.