On your tombstone one day will be a dash.
Your dash is the line between your date of birth and your date of death. This dash stands for your life. Your life is finite. I read recently about the chronicles of people who worked in palliative care and hospices. These special human beings supportively care for the dying. Many have listed the regrets of the people that they care for during their final days. What is sad is that they hear the same six regrets from nearly everyone.
You may be thinking, why listen to the elderly or the dying? Don’t you think that it’s an excellent way of getting the wisdom of experience in advance? With each day, each passing minute, our future grows shorter. Determine today who and what is most important to you.
The wishful regrets of the people in the last weeks and days of their lives are:
- “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself”, not the life others expected of me. This is the single most common regret. Little is more important than finding your own trail.
- “I wish I didn’t work so much and lose the balance in my life.” Many people find meaning, purpose and even a sense of identity in their work. It often leads to a feeling of pride and success. Hard work can be one of life’s great satisfactions, especially if it provides you with an opportunity to express your talents. But, don’t forget to achieve balance between your work and life. Workaholics often sacrifice so much for so little. A simpler, less materialistic lifestyle enables shorter working hours, greater freedom and more leisure.
- “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings more.” This isn’t the case with everyone, but some go through life with their opinions and emotions bottled up inside. Expressing honest feelings either builds a healthy relationship to a higher level or eliminates an unhealthy one. Either way, you win.
- “I wish I had kept contact with my friends.” As we move through life, we never stop making new connections. But, old friends are irreplaceable. These are the people who have known us longer and better than anyone. However, even golden friendships fade with neglect. And near the end of our lives, it may be too late to find them.
- “I wish I had let myself be happier.” Happiness is an inside job; it’s an attitude. It’s also a choice. Yet we tend to worry most of the time about events and circumstances that mostly never happen. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Develop an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is the antidote to negative feelings.
- “I wish I had said ‘I love you’ a lot more.” The importance of love becomes more pronounced towards the end of life. In many cases the people you wished that you had said ‘I love you’ to are no longer around. Don’t waste a moment not telling someone you love while you have the chance. You have nothing to lose.
Your life is a one-time deal. Starting this minute choose to live it without regret. Choose happiness!
John Lloyd is a business growth strategist, award-winning marketer, speaker, trainer, columnist and author of the book Smart Thinking for Crazy Times.
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