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Old 6 Feb 2012
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Guardian Article on Regrets

Interesting article. In case anyone is on the fence about whether or not to head off on a big trip or do some other thing that they have always wanted to do, some deep comments to keep in mind below.


Top five regrets of the dying

A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is: I wish I hadn't worked so hard. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life?
A palliative nurse has recorded the top five regrets of the dying. There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps. A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is "I wish I hadn't worked so hard".

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."
Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called comfort of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."
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Old 6 Feb 2012
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Thanks for sharing this article. I am one of those fence-sitters and after reading your post I have gained even more impetus to get on with my trip. I can relate to regret number 1; this is what has been holding me back. No more worrying what others think, time to do it while I have the ability to do it.

Regards, Mike.
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Old 13 Feb 2012
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Thanks for posting this. The survey and concept are a tad thought-provoking.

If anyone else's attention has been caught, let me say this:
My Dad had about a year of reflection before he died of terminal cancer, age 61.
He expressed very little regret about his past life, but more thanks for surviving his injuries from WWII.
Then, very close to the end, a couple of days to go, he said to me (I was 38 at the time), "Don't work too hard son."
When I look back now, having been retired 14 years, my advice is always, "Do whatever you can in order to retire as early as you can."

That may mean working pretty hard. Who knows what to do?????

A while ago I found this, in The Scottish Himalayan Expedition,1951, by William Hutchinson Murray. It may be relevant:

"...... at the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Begin it now."
TTR250 - London to Cape Town
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Old 13 Feb 2012
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Thumbs up

Totally agree. I retired when I was 40 ( had to - injury) and it was so good that I've just retired again. (only went back to work because I thought I should but now realise it was because others thought I should)
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Old 16 Feb 2012
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The "I wish I hadn't worked so hard" is the one I want to live by. I currently work 6 days a week and I spend 11 hours of every day getting to work, working and then getting home from work. I have no life outside of work and it's sad. I have no choice at the moment, but unfortunately the majority of us have to pay rent (or mortgage) and buy food. Things will be changing very soon though and for that I am excited
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Old 16 Feb 2012
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A good post and food for thought for all of us. I was lucky enough to receive this advice from a couple of older friends when I was younger and I listened to them. Like a lot of people I worked many hours but knew when to slow down unlike some of my collegues who despite having paid off the mortgage and having had their kids leave home still insist on working 50-55 hours a week, I don't think they actually know why it is just a habit now that they cannot break.
Another option if you cannot afford early retirement is to ask for part time work, your boss can only say no then you can think about looking elsewhere.

PS you have just had the honour of my first ever like!
Sent from my ageing laptop with a dodgy screen
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Old 16 Feb 2012
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Nice post

I'm one of those who is always thinking of my own mortality and I can see/feel myself getting older every year.

It's probably the most powerful motivating factor that stops me being tied down in a time and soul destroying job and it pushes me into going travelling as much as my pennies allow me to.

Shared that link on my facebook...
1994 XR650L
2001 NX650 Dominator.

EX - BMW Dealer Technician

Last edited by *Touring Ted*; 16 Feb 2012 at 21:14.
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Old 16 Feb 2012
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Yes, I thought it was a great article and thanks to Mountain Man for raising the topic here. I tried to get a discussion going on the subject over on the ABR site but it didn't really take off. I read somewhere once that before the age of 20 people never think about death but after the age of 20 they never stop thinking about it.

Whether that's true or not is debatable but a lot of the items on the list have come to dominate my thinking as the decades have passed. At the moment three of them are serious elements in my life with one of them causing me to seek professional help. Most of the categories run counter to the needs of everyday life so it's easy for years or decades to slip by before you realise you've done lots but achieved nothing.
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Old 16 Feb 2012
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How true - Life is too short

Thanks for posting this. It reinforces decisions I have made. I watched my sistere-in-law battle cancer for 10 years before it finally got her (aged 53). My father have three heart attacks before the last one got him and heard so many times people say "if onlyI had done this or that while I could"

I took a break from work in 2003 and we travelled from London to Melbourne on our venerable BMW 1150GS. After dealing with the flotsam and jetsam of society in my part of the world for 35 years (Crime and Homicide investigations) - I've seent the best and worst in people.

I've taken early retirement and we are now spending 18 months on our BMW1200GSA travelling the world (Currently in Boliva). The one thing my sister-in-law wanted to do was see the pyramids. She never got there. I'm taking her sister (my wife) there on this journey!

My advice to others is strive to achieve what you want out of life with no regrets, but dont' hurt anyone else doing it.

Thanks to HU, Grant, Susan and the friends we have made through this forum, we are meeting like minded people.
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Old 17 Feb 2012
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Timing was Perfect

Thanks Tom for this poignant post and the timing couldn't be perfect.

I'm trying to get back into a routine and finding that right job again after just returning from a trip; I have started to question whether leaving was the right decision to have made.

Your post puts everything into perspective.
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Old 20 Feb 2012
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Thumbs up

Good article. I've been riding streetbikes for almost 20 years now, and although I've done a fair number of shorter length (< 4 weeks) tours, I've never done what I really want to do: a motorcycle ride from here in Canada down to Tierra del Fuego and back.

It's been very easy to come up with plenty of reasons to put it off (almost all of them financial). I wish I could just stop putting it off until my retirement and go now.
Bruce Clarke --- 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 250R (black)
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Old 22 Feb 2012
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Great article.
I reckon the last point is particularly relevant when dealing with the inevitable negativity when returning from a big trip. After my travels around Mexico, returning to a 9-5 I felt as if the walls were closing in. It was easy to polarize the experiences when you're back - there good, here bad - but it took me a while to see that despite the unparalelled freedom of being on the road, time at home can be spent with friends and family. Don't let it just be a waiting room for your next trip. You're ripping yourself off.
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