Deathbed Regrets

I read an article today about the regrets people who are on their deathbed admit to having. No, this wasn’t a light summer read.

This was the real deal, written by Bronnie Ware, a woman who nursed chronically ill patients for years. She had noticed themes emerge from her patients when it came to regrets … and she boiled these themes into a list of 5 top regrets.

This list really touched me and made me think about making everyday count.

Here are the top 5, followed by my thoughts on each regret.

1. “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
This is a biggie and one of the top reasons my clients come to me for help. How often do you let yourself be fully YOU? You know, when you hear the inner voice talking to you. That’s the REAL you. Are you letting the truth come out and play? Or are you doing what everyone else wants you to do – at the expense of your own happiness? Think about it.

When you live from a place of truth, you may need to have tough conversations with friends, parents, partners, kids, employers, committees, staff, you name it. You may need to walk away from things you committed to. You may need to move, jump ship, dive in deeper, change course, say no, say yes, say I don’t know, say nothing when you used to say something, say something when you used to say nothing. You get my drift.

2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”
I’ve heard this before. You’re not going to get to the end of your life and say you wish you spent more time at the office. Not going to happen. The key here is striking a balance. Ensuring you have something to be passionate about (or else you run the risk of being boring and directionless) without letting that work take over your life, robbing you of all you hold dear.

I quit my last corporate job three and a half years ago because I was working way too hard doing something I wasn’t passionate about anymore. Something had to give. I was digging my own grave staying in a position that sucked the life out of me. I quit without another job lined up. Scariest thing I had ever done. A HUGE turning point in my life.

3. “I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.”
Just reading this brings stuff up for me. Ooh – a toughie! Just this week there was a situation that got under my skin. If I said what I really felt I’d run the risk of seriously damaging this particular relationship. So I beat around the bush and vented to my husband instead of gracefully, but firmly sharing my thoughts with the person I had an issue with. How liberating it would have been to just say what I felt! Next time, I will.

I’ve become a lot less concerned about what others think of me. Of course, I don’t want to blatantly hurt people with my words or actions, but I will speak up for what I believe. What’s a situation where you can use your voice more? If you want some practice here, check out this audio I made that helps you active the 5th chakra, Vishuddha. This chakra is all about honoring your truth.

4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
This is SO crucial or women. We are social beings. We crave connection. Remember when you were younger … all the slumber parties, never-ending phone calls, and fun vacations with your gal pals? As the years have gone by and your responsibilities have increased, you may have let your friendships fall by the wayside. It’s sad.

Reach out to an old friend, make a date, connect. And be willing to make NEW friends, too. We’re never done growing. Just last weekend I made connections with two gals I thought were really cool. So we traded information. I look forward to striking up new friendships with these ladies. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Some connections will fizzle. Others will go the distance. Doesn’t matter. Enjoy the process.

5. “I wish I had let myself be happier.”
Let this one sink in. What this brings up is the idea that you have so much goodness in your life … you have to give yourself permission to be happy and satisfied with all of your blessings and gifts. Quit comparing yourself to others, thinking that you can be happy WHEN you get married or WHEN you get a promotion or WHEN you have kids or WHEN you have a million dollars or WHEN you lose 10 pounds. It’s a trap. You’ll never get the feeling you’re after if you’re not willing to feel it NOW.

Be happy now … and keep moving towards your big vision. This energy will ensure a positive outcome. If you need some more regular inspiration to keep you on track and feeling good, I recommend you subscribe to tut.com (a daily email) and Zen Habits (a blog). These are my secret weapons to keeping my spirits high.

So … how can you remember these 5 life lessons? I wrote them on an index card and put them on the back of my bathroom mirror. Works for me. Do what works for you.

You get one go-round in life. No regrets, baby. No regrets. Will you join me on this mission?

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