Dying with regret or finding yourself feeling like you missed out on life is no place to be. Learn the signs that tell you it’s time to change your ways so you can start moving towards the life you DO want and enjoying the well-being you deserve.
The top 5 most common regrets of the dying as reported by The Guardian:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Your current way of life may or may not contribute to a life of regret, but it isn’t hard to imagine how a life only lived in the “rat race”—an existence where you’re constantly climbing, competing, and comparing—will make a life filled with stress and disappointment. Competition and comparison being at the root of unhappiness for many people. Also, we were not born to only work, pay bills, and buy an endless amount of stuff. We were born to experience, explore, learn, and grow.
Granted, valuable life experience can be had in the workplace, through the trials of competition and comparison, in buying a home, and even in shopping, but it can’t be the majority of one’s life experience. The top 5 regrets of the dying was not about wishing they worked more or had more things—they wanted to feel, express, and connect more.
At the end of their lives, they wished they lived a more authentic life. An existence where they felt their feelings fully, expressed them honestly, and enjoyed themselves truly. They wanted a life where they made their wants and needs a priority over what others expected and they wished they had spent more time with their loved ones.
To avoid regret in our twilight years we have to be aware of how we’re living today. We have to be more mindful of our life choices knowing that each decision has a consequence. That each choice made regularly brings us closer to a certain end.
The more we try to make better choices—decisions that support our happiness and well-being—the less likely we will look back on our time on earth with disappointment.
Here are 7 signs that reveal your current lifestyle is moving you towards a life of regret and some ideas on how to turn things around.
1. You’re unhappy—a lot.
If you find yourself feeling unhappy most days, then it’s time to fix your life. There is nothing wrong with feeling sad, mad, annoyed, and so on—feeling the full spectrum of human emotions is important to our personal growth and humanity—but you deserve to feel a general contentment and happiness most of your days. If this is not the case, here are things you can do:
A) Get help. Go see a life counselor, coach, or therapist who can help navigate your life to a happier state.
B) Be honest with yourself. Write down the top 3 things you’re unhappy about and then create an action plan to make things better. You have more power and options than you think.
Sometimes you just need to sit down with a pen and paper, and write out what you want in life. People who write down their goals have a better chance of achieving them. Of course, you need to follow it up with action—listen to your own valuable advice.
C) Heal yourself. There is a reason—an event, a behavior pattern, a limiting belief, a set of circumstances you’re always attracting—that is contributing or creating your unhappiness. Get to the heart of your problems and heal them so you can move on and be happy.
2. You get angry quickly.
Do you feel like you “lose it” easily? Do you snap at people—especially your loved ones—without a second thought, even for the smallest thing? Being mad all the time can destroy your relationships and lead to many regrets.
Anger is an emotion you don’t want to hold on to for too long. It can cause disharmony in your personal connections but even more so, feelings such as rage, indignation, and irritation—anger in its different forms—can “feed” illness and disease by way of distress on the body. Anger also affects mental clarity and spirit balance.
If you’re upset often and you think it’s “not normal” to be so mad, then seek help. There maybe an underlying issue beneath all your anger and frustration. Reach out to friends and family that may understand what you’re going through. Take anger management classes and join appropriate support groups that can help you feel better. Turn to a counselor, therapist, or your place of worship for help and advice.
It’s not easy to change one’s feelings from anger to happiness immediately. If the anger runs deep—stemming from bad memories and trauma—then there is a road of healing that must be traveled before a person can be free of it. In order to die without regrets, our deepest hurts must be resolved.
3. You have poor health.
If your health isn’t the best right now—and you do nothing about it—it will get worse as you age. Being unhealthy when you’re older can be very problematic. Not only does the body heal slower when we’re older—it’s costly. With most people living on fixed incomes in their old age, massive medical bills can eat away at any retirement savings.
It’s easy to imagine what regrets an older, sickly person can have: “I wish I worked out more.”, “I wish I ate better.” “I wish I went to the doctor sooner.”, and so on. Regrets such as these can be avoided by making smart, manageable, and consistent choices that support one’s health and well-being now. You don’t need to eat perfectly or exercise like a maniac to have good health. Point of fact, I advice my clients to be “good”—that’s eating and moving just enough—80% of the time.
In my early thirties I already felt like a senior citizen because of my chronic back pain. I was constantly anxious about my future thinking, “If this is how I feel now, what will it be like in my 60’s and 70’s?” I did not want to live in regret or pain. I decided that it wasn’t too late for me to fix my back problems so that I can give myself a brighter future. Now, in my forties, I’m enjoying being 99% pain-free.
What decision can you make today that contributes to your good health so that your future self will thank you?
Don’t wake up to regret later. Do something for your health & wellness now and be consistent about it. Here are 3 things you can do to get you started or keep you going…
A) Surround yourself with the right people. Get a gym membership. Join a yoga studio. Create a fitness-sisterhood with your girlfriends. It doesn’t matter how you do it, what matters is that you hangout with people who are interested in living healthy so that you can motivate and support each other.
B) Do a health or fitness program. From Weight Watchers to the Whole30, I’ve seen women find more success when they are guided by a program. It makes sense, as with achieving any goal—you need a plan—in order to make it happen.
If I may be so bold as to suggest one of my fitness plans… If you want a jump-start your health & fitness goals—and improve your posture and confidence to boot—join my Better Posture in 30 Days program. With it, you’ll create better habits—learning to do 5 minute exercise routines—that focus on body awareness, helps develop better neuro-muscular efficiency (that’s the ability of your brain to talk to your muscles), and improves core strength.
C) Get a professional to help you. Nothing beats having the guidance of a health & fitness professional. They can create a plan that will help you achieve your wellness goals. They can push you to succeed and urge you to keep going when you feel less than motivated.
Also, I’ve found from my extensive experience as a personal trainer and life-coach—when people pay for something—they feel more compelled to follow through. Whether it’s because they don’t want to miss an appointment, let their coach down, or waste their money—people seem doubly invested in making their goals happen when they invest money in themselves.
4. You feel like a robot.
If you feel like a robot now—a slave to your job, bills, and circumstances—and you do nothing about it, you will have regrets later in life. You will be—as those people interviewed in the “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying“—someone who wished they didn’t work so hard and let themselves be happier.
If you feel mindless—going day to day in a type of fog—neither being engaged or inspired by life, then it’s time to wake up. You were not meant to be a robot. No human is. You are a soul meant to have a human experience filled with all kinds of emotions—from sadness to elation, from boredom to excitement, from fear to hope, and so on. But, don’t get stuck in the mire of life; it doesn’t need to be such a trek.
You can choose to have a more meaningful life by deciding everyday to act in support of your dreams, happiness, and well-being.
If you don’t want to be a robot all your life, then don’t give up on your dreams. Having dreams—goals, wishes, and deep desires that you try to reach—can inject new vigor and interest in your life. When you live in pursuit of your dreams, you won’t feel like you’re walking mindlessly through your existence. You will feel like you have a purpose.
Your dreams may not be the same as when you were young—as dreams evolve—but it’s never too late to reach for a new goal. If you have a deep wish—something you want to achieve or have—write down a plan, think positive, and follow it up with concerted action!
One way to not feel like a robot is to do stuff that makes you smile, laugh, and be happy. Watch funny movies, hang out with friends, and / or pick up a fun hobby. Basically, participate and play in your life. The more fun you have in life, the less likely you will have feelings of regret later.
Another way to not feel like a “worker-bee-drone” is to do self-care. Get massages, meditate, go for walks on the beach, or things of that nature. Self-care is any act that helps you feel better, healthier, and gives you peace of mind. When you take care of you—and you do this for a lifetime—you won’t regret it.
5. You have unhealthy vices.
Vices such as drugs, smoking, excessive drinking, binge eating, sugary food, extravagant expenses, immoderate TV / smartphone / gaming usage, and participating in volatile relationships will lead to a life of regrets. Overindulging in these vices can destroy your body, mess up your mind, and put you in debt at the very least. At the worst, you can lose your life and alienate yourself from your loved ones in the process. Most people who travel down this path have many regrets later in life.
If you have any of these issues, fix them now. Talk to your doctor, join the right self-help and support group, and heal the reasons behind what is driving you to turn to these vices. In my experience with risky behavior, you have to heal the root cause or else you just replace the vice with another.
6. Your physical appearance has drastically changed for the worst.
If your appearance denotes “unhealthiness”—this can mean anything from deep bags in your eyes because you’re burning the candle at both ends or having gained or lost a lot of weight due to stress—and you continue as you are, you’ll end up with a load of regrets.
Looks aren’t everything, but they do tell the story of how a person takes care of themselves. From their physical health to their self-image, and self-love beliefs—one’s outside appearance is a representation of their inside health and well-being.
There was a 2+ year period in my twenties where I mostly wore sweats, no make-up, and had a general lack of regard for my appearance. Just by reading that sentence, what do you think was the state of my mind, body, and spirit health? Exactly. I was unhealthy. Nothing is wrong with wearing sweats or going without make-up, but for me it was a drastic change from my normal appearance and it was a sign that I was depressed.
If your “look” has changed because of unhealthy reasons—get help. Go to people you can trust. Reach out to organizations that specialize in whatever it is that is ailing you. Ask for help from doctors, therapists, and holistic care practitioners that have experience with what you’re going through.
It’s never too late to ask for help, to make better choices, and to act differently so you can have a brighter future.
7. You neglect your family and friends.
As we’ve learned from the top 5 regrets of the dying, not spending time with loved ones is a pained regret. Not expressing our feelings and letting things go “unsaid” to people we love is also a regret for many. Don’t be that person.
Ask yourself, “What will I gain if I spend more time with my kids? What will I or they lose if I don’t?” or “What will I gain if I spent more time with my Partner? What will I lose if I spend less time with him or her?”, and so on. Remember, your decisions move you forward to a certain outcome. If you want to move towards a life of less regret, then make choices you won’t regret.
Say the things you want to say NOW. As no one is promised tomorrow—there is no better time than the present to express your feelings of love and appreciation.
If you feel other emotions such as anger, unhappiness, distrust, and so forth, express them too. Feel your feelings fully, express them when you can think clearly, and decide what to do with your feelings by thinking how can you be more loving to yourself and all parties involved.
To die with regret may be one of the worst feelings—especially if you realize you could have changed things by making different choices. Decide to improve the quality of your life today so that when you look back, you’ll remember your time with a warm heart and a sense of satisfaction.
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Top 5 Regrets of the Dying