Bronnie Ware, an Australian author, wrote a fascinating article called “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”. She’s now made these comments into a book, and it really hits the mark when we consider what really matters to us.
Two of the regrets stated by these old folks are as follows:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
And 2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
These came from every male patient that she nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men she nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
When you put these two regrets together, you realise what people really regret isn’t simply working so hard, it’s working hard on things that didn’t matter. How many times have you gone home at night and said to your partner that you’ve been really busy? Then they ask you ‘what have you accomplished?’ and you stop for a minute and recall anything that you’ve actually achieved. You then have to admit that most of your time has been spent on things that weren’t as important as you had originally assumed.
So the real question is: What really matters to you?
First, ask yourself; what’s working? What about your daily working life actually matters to you? What is a source of pride for you? What impact are you having on people, things and ideas?
Then, ask ‘what’s neutral?’. What are you spending time on that you don’t particularly care about? How many TV programmes have you watched in the last month that didn’t actually matter? What could you have done with that time?
Finally, ask ‘what alienates you?’. What are you spending time on that actually contradicts your values. What makes you feel bad and untrue to yourself?
These are good questions to ask. As Wares states: “Many of these dying folks did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
Think through the choices you are making as a manager. Got any regrets?
Head of Training
Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.