Pause and reflect to avoid regret in the end

Stepping back to reassess our priorities is essential throughout the journey

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A young acquaintance of mine discovered that he had cancer.

Thankfully it was caught at a very early stage, so he was able to be treated, although he needs to keep a close watch in case it comes back.

My acquaintance is very hard-working, dedicated to his clients and spends most of his days to ensure that everything at work runs smoothly, and that his clients face no difficulties. When we met to close a project that he was managing for my company, I asked him what his cancer treatment experience taught him, even though his treatment process was fairly short compared to other cancer champions.

He smiled and said: "Honestly, I regret not taking breaks, and I learnt to re-evaluate matters even if I enjoy my job and working with my clients."

My acquaintance knows how passionate I am about my work, and how I do not mind sitting up late till the early morning hours working on a project, so before we parted he offered me a valuable piece of advice: "Re-evaluate matters, and remember to put yourself first always, even if you are crazy about what you do."

Throughout the summer, I have been reflecting on our last encounter, and have been creating some changes to my routine by re-evaluating my priorities. I have also spoken to entrepreneurs close to the retirement age to see what they have learned most and what they regret not doing throughout their journey. Here is what I learned:


Be passionate, but do not forget
to live

When we are managing our business, we treat it like our baby. We sometimes are afraid of taking risks, because we do not want to sabotage our work in any way, but that is not truly living your business experience.

The beautiful thing about the disappointments, rejections and setbacks is that it is then we learn our most valuable lessons. Chase your dreams and work towards goals you have set for yourself and do not be afraid to fall. Leave no room for regrets. You do not want to look back towards the end of your career and regret not adopting that technology, or not approaching that company.


Do not let others' success get to you

Social media though a good platform to connect you with like-minded individuals, it could be overwhelming, and being exposed to the lives of so many successful entrepreneurs from around the world, may make you feel like you are not achieving enough. It could hinder your productivity.

Always keep in mind that social media exposes you to a filtered version of an entrepreneur's life. It does not reflect their entire day or journey.

Filter your circle always

Talking about your next business steps and future plans to a group of family or friends are a good way to generate positive feedback, especially if they represent your target customers. However, you will see along the way that there will be people who always bring you down whenever you discuss your business.

They may be doing it unintentionally, out of protectiveness, or due to their cautious nature. Depending on how sensitive you are, or how close these people with negative opinions are to you, they may have an impact on your work, and you could notice that you are not as excited as you were about a certain venture after talking to them.

But just as you filter your photos before uploading them to Instagram, ensure to filter who you talk to about your business always. You may find it better that you discuss your business away from home, and only to a mentor and another colleague. If you find that to be more productive, then by all means go for it. Sometimes we do not notice how someone had an impact on our business decision and motivation until a later stage when we can't go back.


Start today

Last but not least, if I have learned one thing from my father, it will be to not wait another day to start something, even if its 11 at night. When I started my small fashion line years ago, I was inspired to do so at night. It was almost my bedtime, and I remember telling my dad about it. He told me to start straight away, to sketch what I had in mind, and I did. You will learn that time of an essence, and even one night can make a difference.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: