Archive for November, 2014

No regrets. Well, perhaps just a few …

November 26, 2014
Living your life

Living your life

My last post discussed regrets and how we process them. It got me thinking about how we handle them and what we can do differently.

I read an article about a hospice nurse who recorded the common regrets of the dying patients with whom she worked. The two top regrets are interesting and relatable. First, people generally wished they’d had the courage to live a more authentic life. They looked back on life and realised the many occasions in which they had capitulated to external pressure. They wished they’d taken more opportunities to follow their hearts.

The second regret was wishing that they hadn’t worked so hard. In a world where success is often measured by what we do and how well we do it, the correlation between job and identity appears not to be fulfilling in the long run. If deathbed wisdom is any guide then people would prefer to have taken off more days and spent more time with friends and family or to pursue their passion and purpose.

In this regard, life really can get in the way of living. Most of us can’t simply ‘chuck it in’ and live a life to our own rules and pursuing our passions, regardless of how inspiring that sounds. But imagine we made space for some of that now, rather than doing nothing or putting it off until retirement or when we have time? Plan some time to make a start. Even a few hours a week will make you feel better, provide more balance and allow you to deal better with the not-so-inspiring requirements of life.

When you think about your regrets, consider what you might do to avoid them in the first place. Are you willing to take a day off occasionally to spend time with those you care about? Are you willing to take it a little easier at work and leave a little earlier? What would happen if you left work at lunchtime and turned up at your child’s sports day?

Regrets about regret

November 3, 2014
Life's too short for regrets

Life’s too short for regrets

My wife and I were driving home from a weekend away and were talking about some of the things we regret. Fortunately, for both of us, marriage was not on the list! The conversation stemmed from the passage of time, and now, with our children becoming adults, where the childhood years went.

My wife regretted not letting our children be ‘freer’; allowing the girls to wear their fairy dresses as much as they wanted and not caring if they became dirty or ruined from overuse. And taking them to ballet, despite the fact they hadn’t show any interest in dancing.

For me, it was putting my career first in the misguided notion that my success in the business world would pave a better life for my family. It took me twenty years to realise the folly in that.

We both agreed that we were better parents to our son, child number three, as we were older, more experienced and, then in our thirties, applying a more balanced perspective on life. Now, as grandparents for the first time, in our fifties, we’re in the ‘sweet spot’ of life and have the time, energy and patience to be awesome in this new priority-leading role.

Regret is a strange beast. Our children grew up with every opportunity; wonderful holidays, excellent education, love and support and we enjoy a close relationship with each of them to this day. So what is there to regret? As we drove and talked, we realised we were looking back based on the values and experience we have now.

Back then, money was tight; we couldn’t afford the ballet lessons or to replace the fairy dresses so we prioritised swimming lessons and a family holiday. My wife gave up her career to be a full-time mum, a goal we had set very early on. Our mortgage seemed insurmountable and I thought striving for the next career rung would make that easier.

And of course it did. And then we did the best with what we had. We were the best parents we could be with our relative inexperience.

So perhaps now through older and more experienced eyes we need to give ourselves a break on the regrets and focus on making today great. So when my nearly three-year-old grandson tells me that I’m the best grandpa in the world, well, I believe him.