Bronny Ware wrote a beautiful book titled "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying." She worked in palliative care for a number of years and was with people who were dying; she spent the last three to 12 weeks of their lives with them. So when these folks were asked for their regrets or things that they would do differently, she said some common themes showed up.
Today, I’m including a list of the five most common regrets she heard, along with some suggestions on how we can take this to heart to make sure that we don't have regrets at the end of our lives.
Ware says this is the most common regret. When I heard this, it hit me so hard because it is the exact reason I created my three-part proprietary process, The ACE Approach (Awareness, Clarity, Ease).
I needed a way to help me “get real” with myself. I spent so many years living for other people, being a people pleaser, trying to make sure everybody liked me. I had done it for so long that I had forgotten what it was like to just be me. I was so unclear on who I was and what I wanted in my life.
During daily prayer time, I asked God to reveal to me what I needed to do to grow closer to Him and to release this mask that I felt like I was wearing. I knew I was being inauthentic but I didn't know how to change.
Throughout these prayers and meditations, God revealed little ways to go deeper with Him and to go deeper with myself, and that was the beginning of all of this. It's the primary reason I started podcasting and writing this blog.
Once I figured out how The ACE Approach was working in my life, I decided I wanted to share it. I want to help you not have this particular regret at the end of your life. That's why I'm giving you the tools and strategies you need to live a life of authenticity so you don't have regrets.
When you take the time to work through the fun-sized actions I give you, it may sound like they're not a big deal at that moment. But Easy Ager, these are a huge deal.
Every little step you take gets you closer to clarity on who you are and what you want. The clearer you get, the more sure you become of yourself. When that happens, you gain the confidence you need to be brave and to step into your authentic self, no matter what other people say or think.
That's why I talk about clarity so much. You can't live your life freely and authentically if you’re trying to please everyone else.
Ware says this comment came from every male patient she spoke to. She says women said it too but I think this might be more of a generational thing. When a lot of us were growing up, women weren't the breadwinners. They did not work outside of the home. They worked at home as the primary caretaker for the children. Either way, there were a lot of people out there regretting that they spent so much time working. As a Baby Boomer, I relate to this one a lot.
Holding back your feelings is inauthentic. Generally, we have moments in our lives where we hold our tongues to keep the peace but long-term, this is not the basis for healthy relationships. If you're doing that regularly, please stop.
When you're not being honest about your feelings, you’re opening the door to long-term bitterness and resentment in your life. You could also be giving yourself an ulcer or headaches or other health problems because you're holding everything in.
Friend, just be who you are, raw feelings and all. Find people who accept you and allow you to be comfortable in your own skin. If you don't have this in your life at this moment, I would encourage you to get out there and try to find it. It’s so worth it!
We all get busy with family activities, work and more, but friendships are where we find the juicy, delicious parts of life. Things can be significantly more fulfilling and meaningful when you have a few friends to do real life with.
This is your tribe and these are the people who stand by your side, good times and bad. They’re the ones who support you, celebrating your victories and crying your tears with you. And you reciprocate with your support and encouragement. You don't have to have a ton of friends, just a handful of friends you can depend on.
I don't talk to my best friend from college that often but when we do talk, it's like we saw each other yesterday. It’s as if no time has passed and it's such a comfortable conversation. There's no pretense, there's no judgment. It's just a couple of friends catching up over the phone.
No matter who you've lost touch with, think about who you used to connect with on a deep level and try to reconnect. One of the great things about this is that you don't have to start over. You don't have to tell them your life story. They already know it because they were with you the first time around. So think about this one and start reconnecting with a few old friends.
Easy Ager, you can choose whether to be happy or not. It's your choice, and happiness shows up in a number of different ways. Nevertheless, it's still your responsibility to figure out what makes you happy, whether it's having a new purpose after retirement or caring for the grandkids or taking a class at the community center simply because you're curious about it. Choose happy.
Getting clarity on your midlife purpose or direction takes time. It takes commitment to do the little things. It's not necessarily an easy path, but it's so worth it to enjoy a “regret-free life,” as Ware calls it.
Let me give you a couple of quotes from her book that just sum all of this up perfectly.
“Living regret-free is not something achievable in a flash. It is created by an ongoing day-to-day process of conscious decisions, loving actions to ourselves, and a whole bucket full of courage.”
“Once we acknowledge that limited time is remaining, although we don't know if that is years, weeks, or hours, we are less driven by ego or by what other people think. Instead, we are more driven by what our hearts truly want. Acknowledging our inevitable approaching death offers us the opportunity to find greater purpose and satisfaction in the time we have remaining.”
Review the five regrets again to see which one resonates with you, then take a fun-sized action on it.
Life is short. Time is fleeting. Please don't waste any more time. Don’t delay — Do it now.