Recently, a mentor made me write my own obituary. While it sounds morbid, I now realize the insane amount of value in the exercise. I thought about all the things I wanted to do, all the places I wanted to travel, and all the memories I wanted to make.

It gave me a whole new perspective on life. It made me realize that life is fragile and that some decisions can play a huge part in your future. At the time of the exercise, I was also reading the book, “5 Regrets of the Dying.”

The book is about Bronnie Ware, who spent her career as a palliative care nurse, working exclusively with people who were 3 to 12 months from death.

Realizing she was in a unique position, she made a habit of asking them about their greatest regrets as they got closer to passing. After a while, she realized that they all had a common set of regrets.

Each time, she felt like she was hearing the same regrets over and over again. I recommend that you learn from these five regrets so you can avoid the same fate and create an epic life.

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

Not Staying in Touch With Friends

When you get caught up in your weekly routine, it’s so easy to get caught up in the traffic, your family or your job. The monotony of life can make it so easy to lose touch with old friends and people that used to mean a lot to you. While not intentional, it happens to almost everyone.

What makes this very unfortunate is that spending time with friends is a great way to break your routine and have some fun. Sometimes that break from your normal life is the spark to keep going or get the motivation on a new idea.

Close friends bring you energy, unique perspectives and can act as the battery to give your life the kick it needs. Plus, it also brings a sense of belonging that nothing else can replace.

How to Avoid This Regret

The easiest way to avoid this regret is to be intentional with your relationships. Don’t let location or time get in the way to people that matter. Each week, try to have coffee or dinner out with someone you don’t’ see often.

Or, shoot an email or Facebook message if they don’t live close. And if you feel like even more communication, pick up your phone and talk or Facetime. With all the technology, it’s never been easier to stay in touch.

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Not Letting Yourself Be Happy

Let me ask you … are you happy with your life? I’m not asking if it’s perfect (as perfect doesn’t exist) but are you happy?

People get so caught up in success and money that happiness sometimes goes out the window. When your life is about to end I’m sure all of your difficult moments fall off and you focus on the good times.

Find 3-5 things you can do in your life that will generate instant happiness to avoid this regret. It could be going on a run in the park, walking your dog, playing your favorite sport or making a home cooked meal with your significant other.

Find the little things that make you happy, don’t wait for the big ones or they might not ever come. Allow yourself happiness today!

How to Avoid This Regret

Do something each day that makes you happy. Even if it’s something small like singing to the top of your lung in your car, going to your favorite restaurant or going on a new walk with your dog. The little things often give you the most happiness.

Working Too Many Hours

I’m sure almost everyone can relate to this regret. Working hard is a great way to impact the world but often times people take it to the extreme. Oftentimes, this can damage your health, relationships, and quality of life.

So many relationships and friendships dwindle due to excess work. While it’s important to put in the hours and try to impact the world, don’t let it consume to you the point no one wants to be around you.

Don’t get so obsessed with the money that you forget about the people and moments that mean the most to you.

The key is to find some sort of balance between doing what you love and being with the people you love. Otherwise, you’ll look back one day and wish you’d focused more on the latter. Remember, you can’t take the money with you when you go.

How to Avoid This Regret

Monitor your hours so you don’t start living at the office. Don’t wear business and 80 hour weeks as a badge of honor. Create systems or get help from people to do more work in less time.

Not Expressing Your True Feelings

Men had the biggest problem with this regret as men from that era were taught to not show emotion and feelings nearly as much as todays. But holding your emotions internally is eating away at you.

If you’re feeling something, communicate it to the people who need to hear it. The last thing you want is to end up not getting through what you meant to say to someone so close to you.

How to Avoid This Regret

Make it habit to communicate, even the hard stuff to hear. The more open and transparent, the easier it will feel. While it won’t always feel easy, it’ll be worth it!

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Not Living a Life True To Yourself

So many people end up living a life that isn’t true to themselves. Usually, its based on someones else version such as a spouse or parent. But this is one of the easiest regrets to avoid.

Focus on living a life that is true to yourself. Who cares what other people think, it really doesn’t matter.

How to Avoid This Regret

Listen to your inner voice. Don’t follow others, become the leader of your life! Constantly check in with yourself to make sure you are proud of the life you are living.

I recommend that you figure out what you want in life and align your activities around it. Life is way too short to try and impress others.

Remember these five regrets of the dying so you can focus on what matters in your life. Take action each day and week to ensure that you’ll end up living a life that made you happy and proud to live.

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