Karl Pillemer has conducted a series of interviews with folks who are ‘chronologically gifted’ asking them to share some of the lessons they have learned along the way. As in any group of those who are writing the last chapters of their life stories, there were those who talked about the regrets they have. Things like worrying too much, having to have a clean house, not traveling more, working too many hours.
This list is not new. We have heard a variation of it for years now giving rise to things like ‘stop and smell the roses’ or ‘your inbox will be full on the day you die’. And, in the midst of a busy life, we read these lists and vow to slow down but usually go right on with cramming our schedules as full as possible. Being busy is a badge of honor. The busier the better. The more stressed we are the more productive we are – or so we think.
And maybe it’s because I am becoming more chronologically gifted and have started that final third of my life story that this particular article did stop me. I asked myself what are the things I regret about the first 2/3 of my life?
Here is what I came up with:
Not playing with my children more. It seemed that there was always a deadline or something I now can’t remember that got in the way of my saying…”they are only going to be little for a short time, make the time for play and the memories we can create.” It didn’t hit me until the morning of my oldest daughter’s high school graduation that time had passed that I could never reclaim with her. Regret that.
Not letting go of toxic relationships earlier. Toxins are poison whether they are chemicals or negative or mean people. By tolerating toxicity in some of my relationships, I allowed poison to fill my body and spirit for years. The time it took to de-tox is out of proportion to the time it took to become poisoned. I learned some valuable lessons and I also lost valuable time that I can never get back. There is no do-over when it comes to time lost.
Not taking more risks. As a people pleasing, task driven person taking risks was not high on my priority list. What if _______ (fill in the blank) didn’t approve? What if it created inconvenience for __________ (fill in the blank)? There are so many unknowns or it seems like too big a task, how will I ever pull it off? Looking back I see that those questions, which were really fears, kept me stuck. If I had taken the time to explore (which would have been a risk in and of itself), I might have seen that those questions had more than right answer.
What about you? If you had to stop what you are doing right now and make your list of regrets, what would be on it?
What can you do to make sure those regrets aren’t on your list 30 years, 30 months, 30 days from now?