The greatest words of wisdom often come at the end of life. If you could fix today what you’d otherwise regret in future, the rest of your life might be different. In this bulletin, we draw from Bronnie Ware’s book, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing and hope you find our commentary helpful.
#1 – “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”
This first regret is the most common. Most people feel they have not honoured even half of their dreams and goals because of the choices they made or had not made. Many regret focusing on building life savings and never putting in place an itinerary or action plan for the retirement years.
Make a plan in your calendar to address clutter, downsize, travel, pursue new interests and review your life goals. Ask yourself, do I have a valid Will and Powers of Attorney? Are there new additions or developments in my life I want reflected? Is the representative I chose still the best person to care for me or administer my estate? If it’s been more than 5 years since your last update, get your estate plan reviewed. It’s rewarding to plan gifts for those who helped in times of need.
#2 – “I wish I didn’t work so hard”
This wish is commonly heard from men who are part of an older generation in situations where they had been the primary “breadwinners.” Many say they spent most of their time at work, missing their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.
Perhaps earning more is not as tied to happiness as once thought. Before committing yourself financially, ask yourself, do I really need this purchase? Will it change my life? Is my lifestyle sustainable and is it the one I want in the long term? See if holding off on your spending for a time period is helpful.
#3 – “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”
Many individuals expressed how they suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried.
Today more people are focusing on physical health, hobbies, lifestyles and switching careers. Marriage breakdown is on the rise as is the opportunity for new relationships. Making a change in your life can be frightening new terrain but also the most empowering. So, try taking a step; read up on the change you are contemplating and speak to a professional.
#4 – “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”
Many people get caught up in daily life and let valuable friendships slip away. Regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved are highly common. Try not to let this happen to you. Allocate time each month to reconnect with a friend and familiarize yourself with social media. Stay in touch and set up powers of attorney with those close to you. You will want to have a caregiver in place before it’s needed and probably want your friends to know they can rely on you if needed. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
#5 – “I wish that I had let myself be happier”
There is value in knowing that happiness doesn’t just happen; it’s not an external event, but rather a choice we make. When things don’t go your way, don’t get stuck in old patterns, habits and the comfort of familiarity that overflows into emotions and physical life. Fear of change can have us pretending to others, and to ourselves, that we are content. Try doing something nice for yourself personally each week and each day.
It’s a good idea to take stock once in a while and assess your life in accordance with your aspirations and the words of wisdom passed on from others. Life planning requires that you make and review conscious short and long term goals, that you take time out to enjoy yourself and that you never underestimate your capacity for growth. Try to build in time to execute the things that really matter so they aren’t just passing thoughts. Think of retirement as a new chapter in your life and estate planning as emergency preparedness.
Make an appointment to see us to ensure your documents are in good order. Having a professional plan in place will avoid unnecessary complexities and enable you to leave behind the most possible for your loved ones.