REGRETS OF THE DYING
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I 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 I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many 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.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
Be a Leader/ “Legacy Leaver”
Leadership means many things to many people. I think it means being proactive, being the first, and:
- Taking the initiative
- Setting the standard
- Managing effectively
- Planning often and well
- Resourcing whenever possible
- Identifying the vision, goals, and priorities
- Setting the example, always
A good leader takes responsibility and says; “The buck stops here!” when something is not right.
Leaders show the way and model through active example what they’re trying to express and accomplish.
They press on and press in, and they run counter to the culture of convenience and quick fixes. They refuse to get sidetracked by the “bright and shiny objects”, the diversions, and side-eddies of our culture.
They strain and strive with intentionality and energy to build relationships and create a legacy, a heritage, and a family. They do much of this by simply taking the initiative, being intentional, and by writing and accomplishing compelling goals that are relationship-based.
Parents, you are the key; you are the leader. You must be intimately in touch with your mission, goals, and objectives as a parent. This requires discipline, selflessness, living your priorities, and time management. You must leverage the hours of your day and be intentional in everything you do. Time is the only resource you’re guaranteed to have.
The key here is to write down what you want… dream it, plan it, and do it.
The questions are…
- Who are you?
- What do you want?
- Why are you here?
- What is not working, that you would like to see work?
- What is happening now, that should vanish?
The answer to these questions will determine your “brand” as a parent and as a leader. What “brand” are you now? What “brand” do you want to be?
Here are some thoughts on leaving a legacy and heritage:
What will they say when you’re gone?
A good parent transfers the following attributes and character qualities to her/his children…
- Love for God (as you understand Him)
- Love for people
- Ethics/ knowledge
- Wisdom and understanding
- Love and compassion and kindness
- Positive attitude and motivation
Great parenting requires us as parents to raise children in the way they would be best served.
They are individuals, not part of a cookie-cutter machine. Therefore, we need to work with our kids on their level, meeting their needs, resourcing, respecting, and fostering the individuality of each child. We must study to know them and then resource their gifts, attributes, and skills. No two children are alike. This all requires patience on our part to work on their level, one or two things at a time. Slowly, with a patient parents heart.
Who is leading your family?
- What will your best friends say at your funeral?
- What is a life well lived?
- What is greatness? Family Legacy?
Why set goals? Why document priorities? Why plan your life? Why live life on purpose?
Setting smart goals offers focus and efficiency of effort. Goal setting offers a father the opportunity to live their life with passion and do what’s most important to them. These key purposes offer a life lived on purpose.
Putting your passion on paper and discovering what your true desires are, committing to these things in the form of goals, is a vehicle to achievement and accomplishment. When you truly discover your passions and desires and are willing to write out cogent outcomes in the form of smart goals you are on your way to living a life with purpose and fulfillment.
What Is The Purpose Of Goals? For one thing, goals concentrate and give focus to our personal energy. When we get the goal setting process right, they do this very well. By defining what we want to do and then set reasonable time limits in which to get things done, goals bring out the best in us. With focused, concentrated goals and reasonable plans to achieve them, we will behave very much like a laser beam. Focused goals, like the light of a laser, can excite and motivate a wide variety of spectacular tasks and follow-through behaviors of all kinds for us.
Goals need to be smart, specific, time driven, challenging, written, and achievable. Vague and hazy goals are not goals at all. Goals must be specific, periodically reviewed, shared with others, and flexible. It’s okay to change your goals and rearrange priorities on the fly. Flexibility is a hallmark of good goal setting. Priorities change-people change-situations change-circumstances change… and so should your goals. Our focus changes as our lives change. It’s okay to change your goals.
The power of the mind, coupled with sustained effort, brainpower, focus, and hard work and diligence create an unstoppable force in achievement and overcoming obstacles. Bringing visions to reality requires the ability to dream dreams, see the big picture vision, and then determine to realize the dreams. Goal setting as a life practice and purpose driven priority planning is a great means to fulfill and leverage your gifts and talents and to live your life and purpose.
You must do the work. You must do the planning and preplanning, execution and review. In order for goal achievement and accomplishment to take place, you must do the work. There is no free lunch in goal achievement. There are no shortcuts. There are no ways to cheat the system. You must do the work.
You must be incremental, methodical, and sequential. This will require faithfulness day to day perhaps for years-but it will be worth it when you achieve what you truly set out to do. Doing something incrementally for 30 minutes a day is far more compelling than the periodic spasms we often have which lead to inconsistent effort and therefore inconsistent results.
Faithfulness in goal setting fuels passion and accomplishment. You must set out to be faithful, diligent, and methodical even when—or especially when—you don’t feel like it. To work on your goals daily, despite feelings of the contrary, is necessary to achievement of goals and therefore a life with purpose. To fulfill your goals, you must be faithful, to be incremental. It takes a diligent faithfulness and loyalty to the mission to go forward on a daily basis in the face of obstacles and challenges, to press onward towards your life goals and accomplishments.
Goal Tools you can use include: Write down your goals on paper. –They need to be specific, measurable, aligned, realistic, and timely. Accountability–you must be accountable in order to be successful. Inspiration–you need something larger than yourself to motivate you toward your goals.
One way to get started in your passion plan is to take a retreat, a passion retreat. Take some time away to relax, reflect, and experience renewal. Write and keep a log and record your discoveries.
By Brian Parsley
November 3rd, 2009
A friend of mine wrote this amazing list for his young stepson. It’s a set of principles he’s learned in his lifetime and wanted to pass along so his stepson would have the building blocks to living a positive, fulfilling life. I thought it summed up how we should all live our lives.
1. Always Tell the Truth Even When it Hurts
Honesty is not a situational principle. In the end, it’s yourself you have to live with. Integrity is what makes you who you are. It’s what makes the pillow soft at night and the morning worth waking up for.
2. Give Love
Treat yourself and others with compassion, love and respect. Help a neighbor, help a stranger, and take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Remember, nothing is possible without first believing in love.
3. Treat People Fairly Fair
Be just, be compassionate and be equal. All situations are different but the manner in which you go about handling them should be the same. Don’t play favorites. If you show compassion, you will be able to treat others fairly, and they will respect you for it.
4. Never Do Harm to Anyone – Including Yourself
Don’t talk behind someone’s back, don’t cause physical harm and don’t let someone engage in any activity that you know will cause them or others harm. This has as much to do with action as intent. If you’re honest, loving and fair you won’t want to hurt others or let others be hurt.
5. Keep Your Promises
Your promise is your reputation. Others will judge you by your ability to follow through on your words.
6. Be a Positive Influence
Don’t just set out to make your life better. Help others live the best life they can too. Be a role model. Live the above principles and others will follow your lead.
7. Do the next right thing… always.
If you’re ever in doubt of any decision, do the next right thing. Don’t worry about the “what if’s” or all the different ways a decision could take you – just do the right thing in that moment. It will never fail you and there will never be regrets (especially in the long run).
Special thanks to Ben Vernon.
What kind of life do I have when the highlight of my week is a date with my wife at Costco?
With 9 kids, you can imagine it’s difficult to have any quality time to talk, reflect, communicate, or simply get on the same page with your spouse. My premise here is to show just how spending time together, no matter where it is, is the key to a great marriage.
I’ll tell you about the story of our Costco date, the benefits of our time away, and the satisfaction it brings me to be with my wife.
We start with a list. We must do an inventory of what we need to buy at Costco—paper products, cereal, refried beans, milk, eggs, frozen items, etc. etc..
Then comes the drive, where we catch up with on the week’s activities and just generally talk about life.
Here is where we set the stage for some time of good communication and quality time together.
Going into Costco is always fun, as there are several regulars who are colorful, wonderful, and friendly.
I do have to pull myself away from the high-definition televisions that my wife will not let me own.
We inevitably see other couples on their Costco date as well.
One of the highlights is the tasty samples, and of course looking for the great deal.
I just found some really cool Docker sweats for only nine dollars!
We grab our food at the food court, where Judy always asks about our kids and if indeed we’re on another date. We say yes, of course, and exchange pleasantries.
Now comes the time to carefully load up our catch and drive to the selected spot of the day to enjoy our quiet dinner-a sumptuous repast par excellent!
Here’s where we talk about the deeper things; kids, goals, schedules, God, the upcoming week, and life in general.
Time for the drive home. Sometimes we stop at Starbucks, which always is a great way to end a Costco run. We get home now, and the kids unload the Costco booty and are delighted to see stuff that they wanted. And we needed.
I discover that I do have a life when the highlight of my week is a Costco run/date with my wife.
Life is good. When I have time away with my best friend to shop, have dinner, go to Starbucks, and just have fun.
What am I lacking at this time?
Leadership means many things to many people…I think it means being proactive… being the first:
- Taking the initiative
- Setting the standard
- Identifying vision, goals and priorities
- A good leader takes responsibility and says” the buck stops here”.
- Leaders show the way and model by example what they’re trying to accomplish.
- Leaders press on and press in, and they run counter to the culture of convenience… they refuse to get stuck in the “bright and shiny objects”, diversions, and side eddies of our culture.
- Leaders strain and strive with intentionality and energy to build relationships and create a legacy and heritage and their families…. I do much of this is simply by taking the initiative, being intentional and planning by writing and accomplishing compelling goals that are relationship based…
Leaving a Legacy of Leadership
Who does not want to leave a positive legacy!
We want to leave a heritage to my family, friends, church and community at large.
Think about your personal leadership, through which you leave us a legacy to those behind you. See life as a chance to identify your purpose, position, passion, and posture.
What shapes you? Intentions? Motives? Opinions? Thoughts? Responses? What shapes your words, attitudes, deeds, reactions, and more?
So what is leadership, do you have it?
How do you get it?
What are you leaving behind now?
What do you want to leave behind?
What will change in order for you to do the above?
How do you get there from here?
To impress or to influence…
would you rather impress someone or truly have an influence in their life? Impressions are on the surface, therefore, are often superficial.
Influence on the other hand, is often real, honest, and requires far more ability.
Influence necessitates communication with people and the cessation of self absorption.
Your life’s lessons…
Many of our life’s lessons are made up from our experiences, relationships, and mistakes. Have you been honest with your fears, failures, frustrations, and feelings?
The above serve to shape your life’s message. That life’s message consists of a spiritual component, your life’s lessons, your life’s passions, and indeed, your life’s mission. Most of what we call failure can be transformed to tangible lessons we can share with those we have relationships with; pain transformed to purpose and passion.
Every leader has 5 components that define him or her.
1. Let’s talk about your POSITION…
Are you in a position to be credible, vulnerable, real, and genuine?
Are you believable, touchable, straight up, humane, and do you have integrity?
2. Every leader must have his PURPOSE.
People are the priority.
Are you able to connect with people are you a relationship builder?
Do you serve and meet needs?
Do you truly love other people?
Can you allow love to define your purpose and thereby your leadership legacy?
3. The third element of leadership is your POSTURE.
Do you live in a posture of being open, teachable, and always learning? Are you able to lose preconceived notions ideas and attitudes? You walk in the Spirit and live in the art of possibility in your day-to-day living?
4. One last element is your PASSION.
Passions define leadership.
What are you passionate about? Are you a spokesperson for your passions? What causes, groups of people, or issues do you champion?
5. Your Mission in life.
Do you want to leave a legacy of love for those around you?
Then have quality relationships with people. Be an example to follow. Serve others.
Leaving a legacy of leadership also means the facing and overcoming of adversity. How you deal with adversity defines you. Are you bitter, or better?
You will need faith to face your challenges. Then you can come through, as someone who can truly serve others and help them in their time of need.
- A leader knows where she is going, why she is going, and how to get there
- A leader knows no discouragement, presents no alibi
- A leader knows how to lead without being dictatorial; true leaders are humble
- A leader leads for the good of the most concerned, and not for personal gratification of his or her own ideas
- A leader looks for the best in those he or she serves
- A leader marches with a group, and interprets correctly the signs of the pathway that leads to success
- A leader has his or her head in the clouds, but his or her feet on the ground
- A true leader considers leadership as an opportunity for service
- A leader is one who has not sought the high places, but who’s been drafted into service because of his or her ability and willingness to serve
- A leader listens, communicates, and cares
- A leader has courageous conversations
- A leader manages time, money, resources and is a good steward
- A leader washes dishes, cleans the bathrooms, and does what’s needed
- A leader does not look for, nor require, kudos
In conclusion, we all need to–
Find our voice and use it toward our life’s passions, purpose, posture, and position to leave a legacy of leadership. Find your voice and your gifts, and use your voice and your gifts. Lastly, help others find their voice and their gifts, so they too may leave a lasting legacy of leadership and a heritage of love.
20 Steps to Compelling Goals
- Have SMART goals
- Have strategies that work– Make sure your goals are workable, realistic, and actionable.
- Have good implementation—follow through and be methodical, sequential and incremental. Start small and do not despise the day of small beginnings.
- Accountability—be accountable to trusted advisors and mentors and those more experienced. Coach and mentor others as well. Hold yourself and others accountable to your goals.
- Minimize distraction—focus on what’s important—keep the main thing the main thing
- Commit to your goals and plans—daily review your goals and adjust as needed
- Communicate your goals, with all stakeholders and family members—don’t do this in a corner.
- Post written goals publicly—be very public and very accountable and very up front with goals
- Get family buy in and immediately—kid buying in and commitment to everyone involved. Share what you have in mind with others who play a role in the plans success and achievement.
- 10. Have daily, weekly, monthly meetings to review goals and progress
- Develop reasonable implementation schedule and stick to it—calendarize!
- Do your plans, see what happens, adjust as needed, and keep in touch with those who can help you stay on track. Accountability works great!
- Evaluate—revisit current goals and paradigms and find what works and what doesn’t. Implement change immediately. If it works. Do not fix it.
- Think out of the box—creatively brainstorm. Be fearless and try new things. Get feedback from trusted advisors and mentors.
- Go away—go somewhere way from all distraction and develop a compelling parenting plan.
- Create a culture of accountability, celebration and clarity—celebrate achievement by awarding team and individual accomplishment. Give public and private encouragement and praise. reward achievement
- Communicate expectations—have courageous conversations and be clear on expectations. Communicate, communicate, and communicate.
- Leverage your time and manager prime times of the day—the times where energy is the highest and most focused.
- Just do it—plan the work and work the plan. Commit to high performance. Kill procrastination and perfectionism. Keep a sense of humor. Learn to grow and change. It back in action and get involved.
- Dream it, write it down, and just do it— rediscover your passion, mission and purpose today. You have a choice, time, resources, and ability. Now it’s up to you.
The last installment of our Informal Survey…
1. Stop saying, “No” immediately unless it’s a life threatening situation. Rather, come to their eye level or lower and explain to them why what they’re doing or thinking about doing might be a really bad idea, complete with realistic consequences of their actions.
2. Be more aware of the family history on mental health. Turns out depression runs in my family. Had no idea until 2 years after I figured it out. It really does take a toll on the family, especially the kids.
3. Take all that energy from yelling (see 2 above) and whisper. It’s amazing how quickly people shut down at loud noises, but perk up at really, really soft ones.
Not had child number 1
Not had child number 2
Not had child number 3
Bad parenting day today…..ask me tomorrow and the answer will be different. Now if you will excuse me I have to go find out why…
Child number 1 thought it was okay to go to the bathroom at school and send a questionable song to all of his 5th grade friends on the emergency cell phone that he wasn’t supposed to have brought to school.
Child number 2 thought it was funny to tell a Chuck Norris and Virgin Mary joke to his friends during study hall that was definitely not appropriate for 8th grade students.
Child number 3 thought it would be okay if mom came home and found her and her boyfriend making out on the couch with his hands down her pants – she is 16.
Do you think it is too late to get a refund on them?
I would have protected my children LESS from the cause and effect of thier own behavior.
I would have been more strict about responsibility.
I would have been less accepting of negative behavior.
I just joked today that I wish I had time to write the book “The Parent REDO”! How ironic…
As the mother of 2 ( 11 and 13), high maintenance pre teens, I do not think this space will have room for all of the “do overs” I could give you. You asked for three so here goes.
I would have kept “consistent” with rules…
I would have kept “consistent” with a routine/expected schedule…
I would have kept “consistent” with our overall expectations…
“Children will follow where we lead them..if we do not lead them, they will not follow.”
Permission granted to use quote from a guilty parent of great kids that have been lead by consistent love but not by consistent leadership. I will be the 1st to buy your book as the do overs are still possible…I hope!
Results from our Informal Survey…
A lot of Doug’s advice struck a chord for me- the 3 things I took from his memorial service were:
1.) LIVE FOR TODAY. Do not dwell on the past, learn from your mistakes, but do not let them haunt you. Do not get caught up in the future. LIVE for the PRESENT! If you make today a success the success will continue into the future.
2.) COACH/MENTOR- take an active role in your children’s interests. Doug coached his last lacrosse game for his younger son’s team just a few weeks before he past away. His boys did not win that day, but they still felt like winners. Doug taught them that what was important was that they played their best, had fun, and had love & respect for their teammates and their competitors. Doug was in the habit of asking his team- “What is my job?” They would respond- “to love us.” “What is your job?” “to love each other.” I am not sure where Doug got these mottos but the point was- teaching & mentoring kids is great for the kids- but was also incredibly rewarding for Doug.
3.) LET GO OF REGRET’S! As tragic of a loss as it was to lose Doug at such a young age- he did get an incredible gift- his diagnosis forced him to let go of regrets. Every man has things he wishes he did differently but we are forgiven for our mistakes- and we should not dwell on them.
Anyhow- sorry for the long response- but these are some of the things I learned from my buddy Doug. And even though he was a “Man’s man” he was never embarrassed to say- “I love you Man!’ and neither am I.
Being a grandparent of two provides remarkable insight into my parenting background. Between my wife and I, we have grown daughters and all that comes with it.
1. I would be more relaxed about encouraging my offspring to explore and think for themselves.
2. I would instill less fear of uncertainty
3. That’s it because, while parenting was a “surprise” for me in my mid-thirties, I can’t imagine life without having at least one child.
Nothing! That doesn’t mean that I was a perfect parent. I simply would go through that season with the faith that carried me through it the first time. I believe that each child has his/her own spirit, soul, mind, emotion and will. I’d to my best, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to guide that child in the direction of their bent. I have noticed little consistency between what we may consider “great” parenting and how kids turn out. Raising a child is such an act of “trusting God” and a daily dose of humility as those little innocent creations remind us that we are not God and that we need to depend on Him all the more. What a terrifying responsibility…to bring a child into the world via birth or to parent via the blessing of adoption. Yet, having said all of that…I’d do it again in a heartbeat.