Change Your Questions Change Your Life

What would your life look like if you lived with no regrets?

Please don’t roll your eyes and scroll down. This is an important question that changed my life thirty years ago—and could possibly change yours.

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One Question Turned On The Spigot

As 1990 drew to a close, my life was a mess. My wife was a stay-at-home mom with our nine-month-old daughter. By day, I worked my window cleaning business and by night, I valet-parked cars at a nearby shopping center. That year, our income hovered around $12,000.

During that time, our daughter Anna suffered from persistent ear infections that burst her eardrum. To pay for it to be surgically repaired, we were forced to cash in our meager retirement.

I hated my life.

One cold spring Saturday afternoon, I asked myself an important question that changed everything.

Sitting in the Cinnabon shop at Cherry Creek Shopping Center, during my break, I pondered a life-defining question.

What’s the dream?

It’s really an audacious question. It reveals our values, our motivations, our true selves. Far too many people never dream, or worse, fear where their dreams will take them.

But in that moment, I dared.

Suddenly, it was like someone turned on a spigot, and a rush of pent-up dreams began to flow. I grabbed a napkin and began taking notes so I wouldn’t miss anything. The answer surprised me: I want to leave Denver, move to Pasadena, California, go to grad school, and become a pastor.

No, I told myself. Kelley has always said there’s only one city where she’d never live: Los Angeles. Pasadena is basically Los Angeles, so she’ll absolutely say no. And besides the economy is horrible. We’ll never sell our condo.

To My Surprise, She Said Yes!

But instead of giving up on the dream, I decided to spend a week thinking and praying about it before discussing it with Kelley.

The next Saturday, I presented the idea to her, and before I could finish my “presentation,” she interrupted me.

“Let’s do it,” she said. “There’s nothing keeping us here.”

Making such a big move was risky—we had no money—but we had nothing to lose.

The next day, I grabbed a pad of Post It Notes and wrote “No Regrets.” I stuck them everywhere: on the bathroom mirror, on the headboard of our waterbed (look—we were just coming out of the 80s!), on my little desk area … any flat surface. Even the rearview mirror of my 1980 Plymouth Champ.

Sometimes, life needs to get miserable before we’re ready to make changes. The thought of spending the rest of my life working dead-end jobs felt like a slow death.

That fall, I enrolled at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, where I learned how to write, thanks to an outstanding Greek professor and the many papers that were required. It’s funny—when I exchanged papers with my classmates for critiquing, I kept getting the same comment: “You’re a pretty good writer.”

Three years after graduating, I ghostwrote my first book, which became a bestseller. My Master of Divinity opened the door for me to work as a theological editor or contributing writer to over 30 study Bibles. In February of 2022, Thomas Nelson is re-releasing a book I authored in 2001.

Who knows what my life would look like if I hadn’t answered two important questions.

Now It’s Your Turn: The Two Questions

You can probably guess the first question, but let’s revisit it…

  1. What would YOUR life look like if you lived with no regrets? All too often, we procrastinate on the important decisions. Our fear of failure (and the resulting criticism) prevents us from taking risks. Instead, we opt for lives of safety and mediocrity.

Trust me—at the end of your life, your greatest regrets will be the decisions you delayed or avoided because you were afraid.

Read that again.

What’s the dream? History’s changemakers—authors, inventors, leaders—were dreamers.

Harriet Tubman, the great American abolitionist, once said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Stop doubting yourself. Believe.

Now what are you going to do about that dream?

Let’s Transform Your Dream Into Reality

Here are some ideas to make your dream come true:

Post reminders to yourself. Is there a motivational catchphrase that inspires you? “No Regrets” kept me focused on the dream. Speaking of dreams, summarize it into a short phrase and write it down. Plaster it everywhere.

Read books that will help you turn the dream into reality. During my metamorphosis, Zig Ziglar became my coach and cheerleader.

Make a plan. You know the old adage—“People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” Without a plan, you lack a roadmap to get you there. Chart it out in attainable steps.

Tell people about your plan. Don’t keep it to yourself because it’ll be too easy to give up. You need people who will support you and hold you accountable.

August 1, 1991, thirty days before our planned move to Pasadena, our condo was still on the market with nary an interested buyer. In the midst of a recession. Interest rates at the time exceeded ten percent. I didn’t care.

“We’re going to sell our condo by Labor Day,” I announced to our community of friends. They all thought I was crazy but said nothing to deter us.

We closed Labor Day weekend.

Make the jump. While pursuing the dream, I repeatedly told myself, I’d rather try and fail than never try and ask “What if?”

Life is full of risks. We know this all too well during the covid pandemic. Nothing is a sure thing. Covid is a respecter of no person—rich, poor, young, and old.

If you’ve dreamed of writing a book but procrastinated on following through with it, this might be the time to transform your dream into reality.

Wouldn’t you rather try and fail than never try and spend the rest of your life asking yourself, “What if”?

We’ll help you minimize the risk.

We have writing coaches who will help you sharpen your skills.

We have marketing specialists who will help you promote your book.

Our staff will help you publish a book that looks, feels, and reads like a Harper Collins or Random House release.

The Illumify team will be your guide, cheerleader, and motivator.

Schedule a free consultation with me today by clicking here.

If I hadn’t dared to dream twenty years ago, Illumify probably wouldn’t exist and you wouldn’t be reading this post.

Let’s bring your book to life!

Michael J. Klassen

President, Illumify Media

P.S. Over and over, satisfied Illumify authors have confessed to me, “If I hadn’t signed a publishing contract with you, I would have never followed through on releasing my book.” Let’s make it happen in 2022!