The desire to have a fulfilling, perhaps even exciting, life is one that many of us share.
So possibly it is a bit of a cruel twist of fate to consider that, invariably – no matter how successful one becomes, we all wind up with many regrets over the course of our lives, many of them related to things we did not do and areas of life that we’ve neglected.
While each of our lives are obviously different, there are a few common themes when it comes to end-of-life regrets. Here are nine of the most common regrets people mention when they reach the final stages of life.
1. Neglecting the people that matter to you
In life, we often meet people that intrigue and captivate us. However, the mistake many of us make is not telling those people exactly how we feel.
Maybe we are scared of how they’ll react. Maybe we think our emotions are silly.
Whatever the reason, not uttering “I love you” – or whatever it is one wishes to say – is a common regret people have at the end of their lives.
Take the time to let those you care about know how you feel. Yeah, life gets busy, and it is not always easy. But learning to communicate in relationships will help you live a more fulfilling life.
2. Not having been the best family member possible
The effect parents can have on their children might be surprising to some. However, it should not be. Our parents – or other primary caregivers – in many ways have the largest impact on us during the formative years of our lives.
But that impact having been a negative one is a regret that many parents express on their deathbed.
Similarly, many people express regret over having not cared for other loved ones in their lives such as a spouse.
Family can be some of the closest people you have in your life – cherish them and remember to say ‘thank you’ once in a while.
There are many reasons people put work before all other things in their lives. Maybe they’d like to make something grand of their lives.
Whatever the reason, putting work before family or your health can lead to everything from missing out on important aspects of your loved ones’ lives to depression and anxiety.
Working hard is important if you wish to achieve in life. But it is not the only thing that matters.
In other words: you must work to live. You do not have to live to work.
4. Playing it too safe
You dream of starting a Fortune 500 company but your economics teacher in high school, your parents and your partner all tell you everything has been done so you settle for working underneath others for the rest of your life.
Or maybe your dreams are a bit closer to home, and you simply want to tell that friend of yours how you feel.
It is important to be smart about the choices you make, but at the end of many peoples’ lives, they often say their fear of failure got in the way of them leading fulfilling lives.
Make a list of things you want to do in life; now’s a perfect time, it being the start of a new year. Try to knock a few of your goals off that list.
5. Failing to dream
Related to the last point, many people regret not pursuing their lifelong dreams for the sake of pleasing someone else. The bottom line is, those who do not support your goals and ambitions for the very little reason beyond “it’s too difficult” are not people you need to listen to.
If you know, you can do something, set out to do it.
6. Not enjoying life enough
In our modern world, worry consumes us. We’ve got everything to worry about these days – the economy, our health, our safety.
But worry solves very little. If you can solve a problem, solve it – why waste your time worrying about what might happen if you do not solve it? If you cannot solve the problem, what use will worry serve?
If your positive efforts cannot solve it, it cannot be solved by your persistent negative energy spent worrying either.
7. Neglecting your health
The older you get, the more you realize that health is a gift. As your bad habits and poor decisions catch up to you in the later stages of your life, you realize just how much healthier you could’ve been had you been more selective about what you eat or gotten more sleep.
8. Not doing more for others
We spend much of our time doing things that benefit us. And we have to – it is not like anyone else is going to put food on our tables.
But not helping others is a regret that many people mention at the end of their lives. It is important to take the time to give back to the world in some way, whether it be through volunteer work or donating money to a charity you support.
9. Not doing something meaningful (to you) for a living
It is almost an archetype of life – you are young, and you have a passion. But that love takes a backseat to the six figure corporate job that has you secretly wanting to jump out of your office window every morning.
Many people wish they’d gone with something they enjoyed doing, something that provided payment other than the financial.
I hope these nine things that people commonly regret at the end of their lives will give you the push you need to make 2016 – and the rest of your life – an incredibly fulfilling one.