Avoiding the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

Avoiding the top 5 regrets of the dying

While I am not one to encourage self wallowing or to focus on your regrets, try this exercise – if you were to die in this very moment, what would you regret?

The top 5 regrets of people who are dying, as reported by Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative care nurse are:

Top 5 Regrets

Which one resonates with you? What can you do about it? Everyone will have their own take and strategies on each of these but here is my two cents on each of them and how you can work towards avoiding the top 5 regrets of the dying.

Avoiding the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Figure out what you want and what your priorities are and focus on them. Stand true to your self and by all means listen to what others have to say, but ultimately the decision is always yours.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
Everyone nowadays is busy and doesn’t have enough time for all the things they want to do. We all have the same amount of hours in a day, yet some people can clearly make it work. So again, make a list of priorities and reorganise your time to fit the top things on your list in. Remember that work is what you do, not who you are. No one gets to their dying day and says, oh I wish I had worked more hours at my job!

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
There is not much to lose by simply expressing your feelings, so I think it is a case of just do it. What’s the worse that could happen? If you let someone know how you feel you may set yourself free or gain a new friendship.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Be proactive in communicating with your friends, don’t wait for them to do it, as we have already established, everyone is busy. If you reach out and people are too busy, move on, you will find someone who is willing to build an authentic friendship, someone who has priorities that align with yours.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Whether you are depressed or always complain about the little things or suffer from FOMO, most people want to be happier. Make the choice to be happy, right now, in this moment. Stop waiting for a list of things to be ticked off to deem yourself happy.


I have previously written about how to live a life with no regrets, actually looking back at it it was exactly a year ago. I’m not sure if it is the change of seasons or a mid year thing but I find that at this time of the year people seem to need a little pick me up. If you missed this post, pop back now and have a read about how I think regret is a choice.

This post is about moving forward, but in light of your past ‘regrets’ I think that a big dose of self compassion will help. If you are able to reflect on these times in your life, and rather than judge yourself, you instead have compassion for who you were at that time, you will be able to rest easier.

What are your priorities?
What do you need to work on?

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