A colleague recently shared a link to Inspiration and Chai a blog written by Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Bronnie is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded her patients dying epiphanies in her blog, which thanks to the attention it received led to the release of her book by Hay House in 2012.
The top five regrets of the dying according to Bronnie are:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
- I wish I didn’t work so hard
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
- I wish that I had let myself be happier
Not only can I personally relate to each of the points on the list, I also observe them impacting the lives of so many other people I meet. Just about every day I meet someone who is achieving less than they are capable of because they are too scared to speak up or be truly who they are. Some are too busy to realize they don’t even like what they do let alone to pursue their dreams. I often meet people who allow their potential to be constrained to within the safe boundaries of what other people think they should do and what it means to be successful.
Bronnie reports that most of the people she cared for had honored not even half of their dreams. What is sobering to reflect on is these people came to realize only at the end of their lives that they had had the power to choose a different outcome all along. They realized when it was too late that their unfulfilled dreams were due to the choices they had made, or not made along the way.
What choices are you making that may be leading you to unfilled dreams or regrets? Life is too short to allow other people, misplaced priorities and misconceptions about the power we have to choose to hold us back from thriving in life. As I share in both The Corporate Dojo and my latest book The People Manager’s Toolkit, the extent to which we thrive not only at work but in any area of life is determined by the strength of our spirit and wisdom of our choices.
When our spirit is energized we are more likely to make choices that enable us to succeed. When we choose the right behaviours we are able to leverage the depths of our talents and create the life we want. Like most of us, I struggle to consistently do what I know I need to, to achieve everything I am capable of. Despite knowing what it will take to fulfill my dreams and potential I struggle day-to-day, moment-to-moment to make the choices I need to.
The things I work hard to focus on because I trust they will allow me to avoid the regrets Bronnie describes are:
- Have the courage to be vulnerable; let the world see an authentic version of who I am, back myself and take risks
- Observe my own thoughts and choose both what I think and how I feel
- Seek wise council from other people but make my own decisions for my own reasons
- Share my thoughts and feelings openly while being sensitive to the impacts I have on others
- Listen to my internal compass and do what feels right
- Observe my passions as a window into my purpose
- Pursue every opportunity to live and work in line with my purpose
- Stand up for what I believe in while respecting the rights and opinions of others
- Live a balanced life focused on the strength of my relationships and health of my body as much as achievements in my career
As Bronnie said so well “Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”