I recently read a quote from the book The Top Five Regrets of Dying recently, and it made me stop and think about how I am living my own life today. Author Bronnie Ware was a nurse who spent eight years working in palliative car. Her patients made a profound impact on her, sharing common regrets they had as they were facing their last days. When people have reached the end of their lives, they generally don’t wish they had more money, possessions or achievements. They tend to reflect on what’s deep in the soul, regretting that they let their self-sabotage get in the way of authentic living and wishing they’d worked less, not more.
Here are the top five regrets of dying, from the book:
“I wish that I’d let myself be happier”
“I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends”
“I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”
“I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
The patient who changed the way Bronnie looked at life was Grace.
“She was a woman who was in so much pain for not having given herself the life she wanted. It had a very profound effect on me. And she also made me promise, before she died, that I would live a life true to myself. I didn’t take that promise lightly. I knew that no matter how hard it would be to stay true to my own path—and it does take courage to do that—nothing could be as painful as lying on your deathbed with that regret. I was seeing it first hand.”
Living with purpose means you live fully in every circumstance, good or bad. You take risks to pursue your dreams, and you don’t allow fear to hold you back. When you are reflecting on your life, you won’t have wasted a ridiculous amount of time and energy worrying and comparing yourself to other women, but instead you will have led a significant and meaningful life, not what the world told you to do. You will know that every day was fruitful just because you were truly alive.
I wish I’d known these things sooner, but discovering my purpose in my 50’s still allowed me to create a rich legacy over the next 30+ years. As my faith in God and His plan for my life has grown, so has my faith in myself. When I seek His guidance for my journey and let go of my tight grip on the steering wheel, I am more fulfilled and energized. If I set my intention every day to follow my own purpose, to inspire passion and joy, then I don’t have to worry and fret about getting my entire to-do list done in one day. Yes, life has given me a few sharp curves, and I’ve had some big speed bumps in my relatively-new career, but overall it has been a rich journey and I can’t think of being anywhere else.
This is one of my favorite quotes is from author Howard Thurman.
Knowing your purpose makes you come alive! It provides the spark every day for “the real you” to shine brightly. Your heart will sing, your mind will be clear and full of creative ideas, and your soul will be content, knowing you are fulfilling your calling and leaving a lasting impression on the world.