Marshall Goldsmith tells a great story. Imagine you are 95 and are just getting ready to die. Right before your last breath you are given a beautiful gift. You are given the ability to go back several years and talk to the person you are today. What would the 95 year old “you” say to the younger “you” about what you could do to have a better impact and lead a better life? The wise 95 year old would have some insights on what matters and what doesn’t.
- Answer that question in your own mind.
- Write it down.
- Now do that.
What your older self would tell your younger self become your priorities. Life is about living with our priorities in mind. Those rare saints who spend their days tending to the needs of the dying remind us of the regrets they hear, with some common themes surfacing.
Here are a few.
1. I wish I would have had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
If you have a dream – go for it. This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. If you don’t do it when you are 45, you probably won’t when you are 55, or 75. Make moments. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late.
Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from males far more than females, but the females are catching up. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. When you get on that bed to leave this place, none of your coworkers will be there waving goodbye.
3. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends and family.
We choose the first and inherit the second. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. Everyone misses their family and friends when they are dying.
4. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves, that they were content.
“Don’t get so wrapped up chasing what you don’t have that you can’t see what you do have.” Marshall Goldsmith
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness. If you are lucky enough to be living where you are and having what you have—your are lucky enough.
Take some time — alone, to allow your 95-year old self to come back and give your present self some advice. Listen and write it down. What will you do differently? We would love to read your comments below.
As this day comes to an end……Take a minute To make a moment!
(Don’t miss our next Leadershiptraq blog for practical things you could be doing right now — “If You Could Do Life Over, Here Are 7 Ways To Make It Right”……and share it with your friends.)
This was really encouraging today, thank you so much for a great reminder and perspective shift! I will have to take some additional time to mull on this later today. Your posts are consistently challenging and great sources of inspiration.
Thank you Jason. Taking time to mull over a principle or concept takes all the mystery out of meditation. That’s how I/we learn things at a deeper level, where it impacts behavior. Keep up your great work.
Stop trying to change your lived ones, spend more time enjoying them for who they are.
I agree with every word that you have said caused I have experienced them for myself. my friend moved and now were back together but it’s not the same she ignores me a lot I wish I would have stayed in contact with her. I didn’t get to keep contact with her because I don’t have a phone so that kinda sucks
but any ways your words were very encouraging it lifted my spirits
Jean. Those experiences can be tough. Yet we move forward with no regrets (because our regrets are in the past and they don’t care). Go forward making good choices and you’ll see how they will add up when you look back at a future time.
Couldn’t agree with you more. The change starts in “me.”