A popular activity, used to help clarify personal values by focusing attention on what’s important, is the ‘What’s written on your Headstone?’ approach. Simply put, if you don’t like what you imagine others would choose to put on said headstone, do something about it while you can.
Another approach is to imagine yourself at a ripe old age, reflecting on ‘If I had my time over, I would have…” or, “If I knew then what I know now, I would have…”
However you get to the point of imagining looking back on the life you’ve led is almost irrelevant. What matters is that you conduct an honest appraisal and if you suspect, even for a moment, that in your future you may have a regret or two, take action now.
Wondering whether you’ll have regrets? Here are 5 you might:
1. Putting work before time with the people you cherish – As is often quoted: “‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’ said no one ever”, on their deathbed. Yes, work puts food on the table, provides warmth, shelter and meets a whole bunch of practical needs. But I’ve worked with a heap of financially wealthy clients with lots of toys and very few people, including their children, who want to play with them when eventually they make time to do so.
2. Not saving something to make life more comfortable in your retirement; whatever that is – Not everyone has the opportunity to create a nest egg which will allow them to see out their days in splendour. But by midlife, we should be realistic enough to recognise that life, as we know it while earning an income, will likely look mighty different if we are solely reliant on the Government of the day to meet our needs.
3. Forgetting to tell and show your Beloveds that you love them – One day it will be too late for them to hear you say just how much they mean to you. Don’t leave them wondering. And on a more self-serving level, one day when you need to depend upon them, you may well need them to remember that they love you! And because you will quite probably hate being dependent on them, show them that you appreciate their care of you while you can.
4. Getting so bothered about things at work that you can’t sleep at night – Perspective people! It’s work. Unless you are in the business of saving lives, sleep is more important. Always. Actually, it’s especially important if you are saving lives!
5. Thinking you shouldn’t, couldn’t, ought not, can’t – Says who? At what point do you stop worrying or giving undue merit to what others say or think? We are all capable of doing and being so much more than we think. Give yourself some credit – I imagine you have overcome a fair few obstacles and survived a few knocks by now and still, you’ve gotten this far in life. How much more is waiting to be unleashed from within, if you only give yourself permission?
What choices might you regret, if you don’t choose differently now?