Life is short.
If you’re not careful it can pass you by in the blink of an eye.
Far too many people end up taking their last breath with a heart full of regrets.
But by thinking about it now you can make sure that you’re one of those who ends this life fulfilled and complete.
The 12 things most people learn too late in life
1) It’s important to live your own life
One of the most common regrets people have at the end of their life is that they didn’t live their own life.
They conformed to the expectations, values and ideas of others instead of following their own heart and mind.
Living an inauthentic life hurts, especially when you get to the end of it.
Bronnie Ware worked for over a decade as a palliative care nurse.
“Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”
The solution is to follow your dreams as much as possible and live your own life.
It’s great to care about others, but that has to be built on a foundation of caring about yourself first.
2) Work to live, but don’t live to work
Work matters and finding a career you’re passionate about can be a core value for many people.
But one of the most common regrets people have at the end of their life is putting work over other people.
The classic example is a dad who spends all week at work and ignores his wife and kids.
But there are a thousand other examples of how work can become an obsession and cause you to overlook the people close to you.
Make work part of your life but not all of it.
Work to live, don’t live to work.
3) You have more potential than you realize
It’s the things you don’t do that you end up regretting more than the chances you took.
Most people regret not having had faith in themselves, to take that risk, or leave that career. They regret the decisions they made out of fear, low self-esteem, and lack of confidence.
In short, the decisions that held them back.
4) Show others you care about them
Another of the biggest regrets people have at the end of their life is holding in their deepest emotions.
They feel that they didn’t tell those close to them about just how much they love them.
And this eats them up inside when life comes to an end.
As social worker Grace Bluerock writes:
“Many people expressed sorrow for not having been more understanding, caring, and present for the people who were important to them.
“They wished they had the courage to say ‘I love you’ more often.”
The solution to this is to try your best to show others how you care about them.
Even if you’re not a very emotive person, try small gestures of kindness and care to let family and friends know they mean the world to you.
Sometimes changing a lightbulb in the living room for your mom can be a way to say I love you.
5) It’s not worth it to hold on to hate and anger
Hate and anger can be natural reactions to the betrayals and traumas of life.
But holding on to them eats you up inside and can kill you emotionally and, eventually, physically.
“Old wounds and unfinished business rise to the surface, but holding on to past grievances hurts us.”
She’s right. If we let anger fester it will burn us up.
6) Don’t worry what other people think of you
It’s natural to care what other people think.
We evolved as tribal animals and the opinions of others in past tribes could be a matter of life and death: exclusion or inclusion.
But the truth is that letting our life be guided and influenced too much by the thoughts and feelings of others is a losing game that ends in misery.
As the Power of Positivity says:
“Why care so much about the opinions of others?
“Keep in mind that most people probably don’t think about you as much as you’d like to think, so stop worrying so much.
“Other people have so much going on that they probably don’t fixate on how you live or the decisions you make.”
This is so true!
Keep this in mind the next time you’re stewing about how somebody interpreted your words or whether they really like you or not.
Here’s the answer:
7) Don’t rely on love to make you happy
I like this line from the band Little Big Town in their song “Happy People:”
Life is short
And love is rare…
And we all deserve to be happy while we’re here
The thing about love is that it’s hard as hell and it can be very hard to find (and to keep).
The brutal truth is that romantic love doesn’t always work out for everyone.
People joke about ending up alone, but the truth is that there really is always a chance we’ll end up alone.
After all…even if you meet the love of your life, he or she could get a disease and die before you.
The lesson here is to never fully place your happiness in finding love and don’t seek “completion” in another.
Instead, seek to share your own wholeness with the wholeness of another.
8) Don’t tolerate bullies and let ourselves be victimized
Bullies aren’t just in grade school, unfortunately, they’re all around us.
They pop up in our work life and even in our relationships and daily interactions.
Bullies try to push us down and victimize us, taking advantage of kind people’s instincts to try to be agreeable and understanding.
This can often lead to trauma coming back up from when we’re younger as well.
“Believe it or not, a lot of our biggest regrets in life have to do with things that happened to us in grade 4 or some other early age.
“We never seem to forget – or forgive ourselves – for not speaking up against the bullies,” writes Eric Jackson at Forbes.
The solution is to stand up to bullies. They don’t deserve a second of your time.
Call them out, boycott them and avoid them if possible. They’re useless, sad people.
The only benefit of bullies, really, is to let them teach you patience and to believe in yourself and not be overly reactive.
9) Take care of your physical health
One of the most common regrets people have at the end of their life is not taking better care of their physical health.
Physical health seems like no big deal, until it goes wrong.
Letting your weight, health and wellbeing slide is a big mistake and many people really regret it.
It can also make the final years of your life a real pain in the ass if you’re physically unhealthy.
To be fair, not everything is in our control.
But you can make sure to get plenty of exercise, watch your diet and sleep well.
This will maximize your possibility of being as healthy as you can.
10) Take care of your emotional and mental health
Just as with our physical health, it’s common for people to put their emotional and mental well-being on the backburner.
In doing this, you end up losing touch with yourself. Decisions become emotionally driven, your stress levels rise, anxiety rears its ugly head.
11) Start saving early
Another big practical consideration that people often regret in the end is being financially broke.
This is especially true if you have kids and relatives who you were hoping to leave something to when you die.
Having nothing to leave those you care about feels awful.
It also means that as you approach your final years, other people and friends often have to shell out money they need to help care for you.
It’s hard and it’s not a small regret.
The solution is to start saving early and make wise financial decisions.
Avoid risky investments, gambling and unhealthy behaviors like excessive smoking and drinking, which also suck up huge amounts of money.
12) Take responsibility for your life
One of the most common regrets people have at the end of their life is that they were too hard on themselves.
Life’s already hard enough without being our own worst enemy.
“Everyone can be self-critical from time to time, but if you let those harsh criticisms dictate the way you’ve lived your life, odds are you’ll come to regret it.”
The solution here is to find a happy medium.
Hold yourself to high expectations and own responsibility for your life, absolutely!
However, never blame yourself for the problems of others or things outside your control.
Living life with no regrets
We all experience disappointments and setbacks in life.
But when that last moment comes, there are those of us who may be blessed enough to say we did our best and fought the good fight.
It might seem like a dark subject, but thinking about the end of life is actually very clarifying and inspiring.
We can use it as motivation to find our true purpose here and live our truth with no apologies.
Hard times and let-downs will come, but with a strong inner sense of purpose, we will keep going and do the best we can while we’re here for ourselves and those around us.
“We have no guarantee as to the lengths of our lives, so create and seize opportunities now.
“We all need purpose and meaning.
“If we are inhibited in the pursuit of who we are in our core, it’s easy to fall into despair and depression, and to settle for a life of less than.
“Do we have to wait until we’re near death to realize that?”
No, we don’t have to wait.
Let’s get started today!