|Do you know what the top five regrets people often say they have at the end of their lives? According to hospice nurse and author Bronnie Ware, the most common shared are:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I didn’t work so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This list points to one of the major flaws of traditional retirement planning: the assumption that we’ll have 20-30 years to do whatever we want … to accomplish everything we’d like to do or experience on our own terms and timeline.
The reality is there are many things that can get in the way of us accomplishing all that we thought we would once we retire – illness, divorce, financial set-backs, having to take on a caregiver role. These are just a few things that might derail our plans. But the most common thing that prevents us from living the life we want at any stage of life is what I call ‘drift’.
Without a plan, days and weeks drift by and before we know it, another year has passed. When we look back we don’t remember what exactly we were so busy with, but we must have been because we failed to focus on the things we say we value and are a priority. In other words, we aren’t being true to ourselves. It’s not a conscious thing; it just happens.
Without a plan, we can drift through our everyday routines, work too long and too hard, and not have time to even identify those things that make us happy, let alone make space for them in our lives, and create opportunities and experiences that will help us realize them. We are too busy or tired to socialize and it takes too much energy and effort to maintain friendships, so we let them drift away.
Without a plan, we can drift through life, through retirement, until we come to that moment of reflection like the hospice patients did and their list of regrets.
As Ware states, life is full of choices. If you want to come to the end of your life without regrets, “choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly, choose happiness.”
You can make conscious choices to incorporate what’s important to you in life:
- Be yourself. Live a life that is true to your values.
- Work less. Play more.
- Express your real feelings, even when it’s uncomfortable.
- Nurture your relationships.
- Allow yourself to be happy.
It’s the best way to create and live a no-regrets retirement plan.