If You Miss the Train, Catch the Next One


“Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.” — Jonathan Safran Foer

How do you deal with lost opportunities?

Missed chances and lost opportunities can be painful.  What makes them painful is chasing after them.

Don’t Chase Lost Opportunities

One of my mentors shared a lesson with me from the book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

His lesson was this:

If you miss the train, don’t chase it. Catch the next one.

Missing a Train is Only Painful if You Chase It

Missing a train is only painful if you run after it.

Don’t chase the train or the lost opportunity.  Let it go, and get ready for your next chance.

It’s such a simple point, but it’s a sticky idea.

Instead of dwelling on what you missed, prepare for your future opportunities.   Or, in the words of Bruce Lee, “‘To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

It’s better to do a reset and get a fresh start.  Don’t wear yourself down or beat yourself up.

Simply take a step back, and get prepared to catch the next train.

Are You Chasing a Lost Opportunity or Getting Ready for Your Next Chance?

I do a self-check now and ask whether I’m chasing after a train or getting ready for the next one.

The key here is to get ready for your next chance, rather than beat yourself up over missed opportunity.  Cut your losses and move on.

I think there is a related lesson:

Don’t keep missing the same trains.

Set up your own train stations for results.  For example, I set up a rhythm of daily, weekly, and monthly results.

When I lose the day, I make the most of the next one.  When my week doesn’t go as planned, I make the most of the next, and so on.

Learn from the past, create opportunities, and believe in your future.
Photo by wili hybrid.


  1. I totally agree. Even Edison failed thousands of times before actually making the first electric light.

  2. Yes, there will always be a next train in life! WONDERFUL thought.

    I tell this to my husband when he is buying more cars than selling because he’s getting Such Great Deals, “Honey, the deal-of-the-century comes along every week!” Not my quote, but it’s a super one. (Maybe a Donald Trump quote, I’m not sure.)

  3. Similarly, and in a literal sense, if you miss and exit, just take the next one and make a U-Turn. It’s not worth almost getting into an accident to attempt an exit that’s too close to make.

  4. This is a perfect metaphor. I certainly don’t want to spend my time running after trains that have already left the station. Much better to sit and plan for the arrival of the next one 😉

  5. Thanks for this. It’s definitely a liberating realization to get that anything you did in the past was all that you could do given the resources you had at the time — regret and self-blame become more difficult when we really see that.

  6. I feel like I am missing the train and not able to design my own station all the time in blogging, because my technical abilities are so low and I am dependent on my IT person.

    Example, after weeks of asking and showing what I wanted…my IT person finally put a bigger Stumbleupon button and tweet button on my site, but took off my Facebook button, where many of my first time readers are coming from. Also not “follow me on Twitter button or retweet button”.

    I write inspiring pieces and they usually need lots of butterfly wings to bring touch upon them…and flutter off…I have lost over 50% of my subscribers since February without gain…I persevere, but I do not chase… I think I need a different kind of station to succeed?

    Another great post JD Thank you

  7. What a great way to put it. I sometimes beat myself up over things and even might get a little depressed, but you know what? I always have a horizon. There’s always that next train.

    And if there isn’t, sometimes that’s better because you get to build it.

  8. This reminded me of the quote from Helen Keller, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

    Thanks for sharing.
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfefct Action is better than No Action

  9. @ Oscar

    He’s a great example where persistence pays off.

    @ Jannie

    It’s funny how such a simple shift makes all the difference in how you feel.

    @ Vi

    I agree. In fact, the one time I broke the rule, I had quite the scare in an RV (not quite going up on 2 wheels, but close.)

    @ Melissa

    Absolutely. I prefer to spend time anticipating versus reacting. When I catch myself reacting, I ask myself, what can I do to improve my anticipation skills and what are the next trains to get ready for.

    @ Positively Present

    It really does help even for simple day to day things. It’s easier to let my day go and quit burning the midnight oil when I know I can get an early jump the next day.

    @ Chris

    The beauty is it’s a strategy shift. By simply focusing on the way forward, you can pick the next best thing, instead of chase fleeting windows of opportunity. It’s a value up vs. backlog burndown mentality.

    @ Patricia

    Right, it’s about looking forward.

    You have the wisdom, insight, and experience that a lot of people will benefit from. The Web is a big place so your niche is still finding their way to you. That’s why guest posting, SEO, and billboards in more places outside of your blog are so important. Also, mentors go a long way. You’ve got great skills you can swap or team up with others.

    @ John

    You reminded me of a related metaphor … ride the wave, or when there’s no wave, make one.

    @ Bunnygotblog

    Thank you.

    @ Giovanna

    I like that quote — it really shows how what we focus on makes all the difference.

  10. I think this is a very healthy outlook. If you’ve missed an opportunity then you’ve missed it and harping on about it and obsessing about it is not going to help you focus on what is still out there.

  11. So many businesses seem to operate on this principle. Internal ideas get ignored until the train leaves the station elsewhere. Build your own station, build your own tracks, heck, build your own train. Most greatness comes from folks doing that rather than jumping on someone else’s tracks.

  12. @ Louisa

    You put it very cut and dry and I like that. If you’ve missed it, yep, you missed it. It’s along the lines of spilled milk.

    @ Fred

    I like your build your own train versus jump on someone else’s tracks metaphor.

  13. @ Lorraine — Thank you. I learn a lot from everyone around me, as well as my own adventures, and I share and scale what I know through writing.

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