I work a lot and sometimes I catch flack for it.
More than one person has said to me, “No one on their deathbed wishes they had spent more time working, Wendy.”
The comment makes me bristle a bit because I don’t buy it.
Sure, I work hard. And yes, I do get stressed sometimes. (Here’s where the daily meditation practice REALLY helps.)
But this work is my mission. It’s part of the reason I’m on this earth, and I’m certain I would regret not doing it.
So, I did a bit of research (surprise, surprise) to find out how true the deathbed comment really is…
Here are Forbes magazine’s 25 most common regrets quoted among those at the end of their lives:
- Working at the expense of my family and friendships
- Not standing up to bullies
- Not staying in touch with the good friends from my youth
- Being addicted to email and missing so many moments
- Breaking up with or getting dumped by “true love”
- Worrying too much about what others think
- Not having confidence
- Living a life that was chosen by my parents rather than the one I yearned for
- Not applying for that dream job
- Taking it all too seriously
- Not traveling or seeing more things
- Letting my marriage or relationship fall apart
- Not teaching my kids more things
- Holding onto old, long-standing grudges
- Not trusting my inner voice
- Never asking that person out
- Getting mixed up in the wrong crowd
- Not getting an education
- Choosing the practical job over the one I really wanted
- Not spending more time with my kids
- Not taking care of my health
- Being afraid to share at a funeral, wedding or other milestone event (fear of public speaking)
- Putting off visiting a dying friend or relative and losing the chance
- Not learning another language
- Not being a better parent
After reading the list, it’s pretty clear that working too much is only regrettable based on what it costs you.
And that could be said of all twenty-five.
Each, stems from living on auto-pilot. Of not being present to see what is right in front of you, not noticing the infinite choices that life bestows, or of pushing meaning and mission aside in the name of practicality.
If you look closely, you may also notice that the list itself can be broken down into three essential elements – authenticity, purpose, and connection.
1. REVAMP YOUR BUCKET LIST.
- FIGURE OUT WHAT MATTERS MOST
Start by reading through the above list and circle the ones that really mean something to you.
Don’t circle something like “be a better parent” just because it seems like something you should circle. Only highlight the ones that jump out at you – the ones that put a bit of a lump in your throat.
2. Tap into authenticity, purpose and connection.
I call this making the THREE DECLARATIONS:
- I WILL SHOW UP AS I INTEND (authenticity)
You have an image somewhere in your head and heart of who you really are – of that best, glowing, radiant self.
It’s probably pretty rare, however, that you actually show up that way.
Our behaviors are mostly automatic. We spend most of our time in default mode, going through the motions, reacting instead of responding, and wondering why no one ever seems to see the real us.
By pausing, taking a breath, and coming back to the moment you’re in, you can choose to show up as you intend rather than how you might have if you simply reacted by default.
This simple act of showing up intentionally is a game changer. Use it if you circled 2,6,7,10, 15 21 or 22.
- I WILL LIVE TRUE TO MY MISSION (purpose)
Whether it’s taking care of your family or serving a higher power, finding adventure every day, or changing the world – every life has a mission, and they are all equally important.
Knowing yours and declaring it is the first step in living a life on purpose, a life that feels meaningful and full.
If numbers 4,8,9,11,13,17,18, 19,24 or 25 struck a chord with you, it’s time to uncover and declare your mission.
Hint: Anything that you come up with that starts with “I should,” “I need to,” “I have to,” may or may not be something you choose to do, but it’s not your mission. Missions start with “I am,” “I love,” “I want to,” etc…
- I WILL LOVE FULLY (connection)
People shy away from the word love. It seems too raw, squishy and intimate.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Loving is about being present. It’s about seeing yourself and others as whole, exactly as you are. It’s about showing up as the authentic you and simply connecting with the authentic person in front of you – fully engaged and free from judgment.
There’s nothing squishy about it. This kind of love can be accomplished in any setting, in every relationship, every single day. If 1,3,5,12,14,16,20, or 23 rang out for you, this is a great place to start.
- THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG AND NO ONE CAN DO IT ALL.
If this feels overwhelming or like a lot of pressure, you’re missing the point. Most regret comes from living in your head, not noticing what’s right in front of you.
So take a deep breath, actually, take 3 or 4, and see what’s there to experience today.