There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumping, says Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse talking about the regrets of the dying over the last 12 weeks of their lives.
The majority regretted not having had the courage to live a life that was true to themselves, rather than having lived a life to satisfy what others had expected of them.
Men wished they hadn’t worked so hard; missing out on spending more time with their children or partners.
At this point, ask yourself — are you happy with how your life is right now?
If you are wondering what has become of your life, and the above comments resonate with you, then it’s not too late to change course.
You will need to be brave.
Changing the course of your life can be difficult.
Recently I flew to Queensland for my mother’s 85th birthday. I’d planned to spend a few days on the Gold Coast with my wife before seeing mum. On the second day, she called to tell me she was in an ambulance and heading to a nearby hospital. We caught up with her in the emergency ward.
After x-rays and a cat-scan, the doctor told us he could see something in her bowel and that he would refer her to a surgeon. By chance, a gastrointestinal surgeon was operating in the hospital that day, he finished early and came to see my mother. He looked at her medical records, then told us that as his surgical team was standing by it would be best that he take a look at what was happening. We agreed.
Later that night he rang to tell me that he had removed a tumour from her intestine. Now, several weeks later, she is recovering. For a while, it was touch and go, and I thought I was going to lose her.
While mum is still mentally bright and cheery, at 85, her body had let her down. A hip operation, degeneration of her spine and now bowel cancer. Spending her 85th birthday in the hospital feeling unwell with a tube down her nose was no fun for her or us.
Those of us in our 50’s are probably in much better health than her generation but may suffer from other health-related issues, often self-inflicted and difficult to change such as:
A couple of them may be out of your control due to the complexity of the world today. With diet, there’s a broad diversity of opinion about what is healthy. Vegan, vegetarian, high-fat or low-fat and more. However, all agree on one thing—that sugar is now a serious health problem.
Stress, work and relationships
The stress caused from working in a job you hate, feeling disengaged or discouraged. Especially if female in a senior role.
Or from being a toxic or meaningless relationship, being unemployed, money problems, health issues, children issues, divorce and a whole range of other issues that affect us today.
What can you do?
Start with what your 80-year-old-self would want you to know
Can you imagine an alternate future as an 80-year-old?
Different to the one if you keep going as is?
Where will you be living?
What will you be doing with your time?
What would you feel?
How will you look?
Who will be there with you?
If different to now, what steps can you take to make the change happen?
It may involve improvements in a couple of things, such as your health – wanting to be fit, energised and as healthy as possible. To live long, but well.
It may mean changing the way you work, learning new skills or changing jobs.
It might also mean exploring a shift to self-employment. To create self-supporting work for yourself doing something you would love. Using the valuable skills and know-how you have built up over your career.
Change is a process – making the shift
Any long-term change takes time. Much longer than anticipated.
Start by taking stock of what is going on in your life.
Try and stop some of the things that are causing you pain.
Explore alternatives, new ideas, possibilities, or experiences.
Taking action opens up new patterns of thinking.
Some suggestions that may help
It’s never too late to do something, no matter your age.
Turn off the phone or TV
Stop watching or listening to the news
Try some new things and see what happens
Take a class and learn something new
Seek out supportive people, who can cheer you on and encourage you
Avoid negative people who demean you or disrespect you
Talk to someone about your life and direction
It’s not too late to do something, no matter what your age. This has not been easy for me to write as I have made so many of my own mistakes. After all, how can I possibly imagine what it is like to be in your shoes? Our culture appears to be one where we feel we have to be an ‘optimized version’ of ourselves. That to me places too many expectations on us, to be perfect, to look youthful, be mindful, always be mentally alert. Especially as we age. It’s way easier to just let things happen. Except when you get to 80 or 90 and look back with regret that you didn’t give it a go.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Barking up the wrong tree by Eric Barker
Designing your life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Eat Rich live long by Ivor Cummins and Jeffry Gerber, MD
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Mindset by Dr Carol S Dweck
How to change things by Chip and Dan Heath
The life-changing magic of tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo
Mindfulness by Ellen J Langer
Hype: A Doctor’s Guide to Medical Myths, Exaggerated Claims, and Bad Advice – How to Tell What’s Real and What’s Not, Dr Nina Shapiro
The Big Fat Surprise Nina Teicholz
Websites & Articles
Ivor Cummins http://www.thefatemperor.com/
Nina Teicholz https://ninateicholz.com/
Dr Ken Berry https://www.youtube.com/kendberrymd
The school of life https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7IcJI8PUf5Z3zKxnZvTBog
Or a selection of useful videos: https://www.youtube.com/wisepreneursaustralia
An insiders view of medicine: A recent Conversation of Sam Harris with Dr Nina Shapiro
On Being by Krista Tippet
Waking Up by Sam Harris
Women at Work – HBR
Tim Ferris is THE optimized- self-guru and many of his podcasts are very good. This interview with Dr Gabor Mate is one I think you may find out a little more about your inner-self. While the topic is about addiction, it is not just about drugs, it is about us.
Headspace for meditation
Habitify – for mapping habits
Runkeeper – for tracking your walking etc
Business know-how and shifting to self employment
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