Australian nurse Bronnie Ware worked in palliative care – that is, easing the pain of the dying – for many years. Ware’s list of “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” has traveled far and wide over the Internet, and for good reason.
Personal finance is, ultimately, about allocating the limited resources in our lives. No resource is so limited, and thus so important, as our time. The list below is an important reminder of that.
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Peer pressure is a helluva drug.
We’re all guilty of making life choices based on what our friends, family, or others might think of us. When we meet someone with the irreverence to not succumb to this type peer pressure, they’re a complete breath of fresh air.
It’s hard to live the life you want to live without caring how you might be perceived. Our social wiring isn’t built for that mindset.
But, according to Bronnie Ware, caring too much about others’ perception of you is a regretable trait.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
There’s a terrific personal finance lesson here: money is a means, not an end.
Yes, we need money to pursue our passions and support our loved ones. And that money is obtained, typically, through hard work.
But we have one limited resource – time – to either spend with our loved ones or spend on our passions, or to spend doing the work which will fund those passions. Limited time, many important options. Striking a balance is hard but, ultimately, vital.
Too much time spent working is regrettable in the long run.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I’m no psychologist, but the Internet tells me that it’s challenging – but very important – to express our feelings to the people in our lives. We frequently hesitate because:
- It’s hard to be vulnerable
- We want to avoid conflict
- We don’t want to be a “downer”
- Or any number of other potential reasons
But, according to my expert sources, humans cannot read one anothers’ minds, and the only way to let your feelings be known is to express them out into the world.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I’m drafting this article from Phoenix, Arizona, after a good friend’s bachelor party. The party was attended by lots of mutual friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen since college graduation in 2012.
We had a blast!
It was great to re-connect and remind myself that the people in our lives are paramount. As Warren Buffett says,
“…When you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.”Warren Buffett
I get it. It’s all-too-easy to lose touch with one another. You can’t be best friends with everyone in the world, nor would you want to. But a life without relationships is regrettable.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Life will deal you lemons: hard times, bad luck, etc. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Choosing to “make lemonade” – or at least try – is a choice. Thus, happiness is, largely, a choice.
This doesn’t mean that we have to be happy about sad things. We’re not celebrating terminal illness over here.
But we are making an effort to make the best of our situations and, when death comes knocking, look back on a life full of silver linings.
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