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The Roads Not Taken in Life-Any Regrets Yet?

In my work as the Director and Owner of Living Assistance Services in providing care at home for seniors, naturally I chat with many older persons who often wistfully look back and reminisce about their past life experiences--their important memories to be sure.

Mostly their stories are fascinating, at times amusing and often they contain importance life lessons. Probably, however, the most memorable–and often the saddest–thoughts are the regrets that an elderly person feels and expresses at this later stage of life. At times, these regrets do starkly reveal the roads not taken in these seniors’ lives.

So, might it be wise NOT to wait until older age is upon us!  Let’s right now consider what might well be our three biggest future regrets in life so that you might be better equipped as you travel down that road in your life!

In no particular order then, here are the top three regrets which seemed to be most common in my discourse with aging seniors:

#1. I wish I hadn’t work so hard.

How do you balance meeting that short-term deadline at work and sitting down for dinner with your family?  It’s tough. Every day almost our lives seem to be overcome by work, by making a living and by pursuing a career. We allow our work to take overtake our lives at the expense of, for example, spending more time with those who are important to us—family and friends and those we love.

If given the chance to avoid this regret, maybe we might feel that we should re-order our priorities more and/or that perhaps we don’t need all that money which we actually are chasing so that we can spend more time with the people who mean the most to us.

#2. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

One senior fellow once said to me, “My friend, Harry, and I were never apart when we were a high school and even in our university years. We did so much together. And, over the years, I have had chances to get in touch with him again but I just couldn’t find his phone number or e-mail address; I missed so many opportunities to keep in touch with someone who was pretty important to my happiness in my life.” It appears that when health and youth have faded, many people realise that some friendships hold more value than all their wealth and achievements. Knowing this now, what would you do differently?

#4. I wish I’d been happier more and not taken life so seriously.  

This may seem strange to say, but happiness is a choice; but, most of us don’t know how to have fun.  We’re way too serious.  We don’t find the humor in life.  We don’t joke around.  We don’t think we’re funny. We miss out on half (or maybe all) the fun in life that way.…and, how to avoid this regret? Do something a little silly today. Crack a joke with the bus driver – even if he ends up looking at you weirdly. Try this one; did you hear about the dead cabbage? There was a big turnip at the funeral….corny, yes, but a wee bit funny! 

Do a little dance.  You’ll probably smile on the inside, if not the outside.  Now keep doing that day after day. 

Is it possible to live a life without regrets?

I doubt that there’s anything like a “perfect life” such that I would expect all of us to have some regret(s) in our ‘golden years.’But, here’s the conclusion I would suggest for us now….let’s try in the future to strive for as few regrets as possible!