Greatest Regret

Photo by Gordon Joly

Imagine you only had a short time left to live – perhaps a year, maybe even just a few months.

How do you think you’d feel? Would you regret the life you’d lived? Or would you know that you could die happy, having achieved all the things you hoped you would?

I recently came across this article about the regrets of people who are near death. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you take a look, because sad as it is, it’s also a real thought provoker.

What’s interesting is how simple people’s wishes and dreams really are. We tend to think we know what we want – a big house, a nice car, a great job and so on – but when death comes knocking, we suddenly realize those things don’t matter at all.

Most of the regrets described in the article related to people lacking the courage to pursue what it was they really wanted in life. The number one regret people said they had was that they’d lived the kind of life others expected, not the life that would have been true to themselves.

The second most common regret was people wishing they hadn’t worked so much. I know this is one of those things we all tend to believe is unavoidable – we having to make a living after all. But spending all our time running the rat race can mean missing out on opportunities to enjoy being with friends and family, see our kids win their soccer tournament or do things like travel.

It’s stories of regret like the ones in that article that inspired me to start this blog. I think so many people want to travel, but delay it or put it off altogether because they’re afraid of plunging into something unknown or seemingly difficult – or because they are too busy living the lives they feel they are expected to live.

But after reading this, I hope you’ll take a moment to stop and think about the kind of life you’re living and realize that it’s a result of the thousands of little choices you’re making everyday. When I’m trying to make a big decision, I find it helps to ask myself how I’d feel about the decision a year from now, ten years from now and right before I die. It gives me perspective based on the fact that I want to live a life full of interesting experiences and free of regret – but also helps me balance my choices given that there are bills to pay and a future to plan for.

Remember, you only have one life. Make the most of it.


What do you think? Are you living the kind of life you really want? Have you had a life-changing experience that’s led you to re-evaluate the way you do things?