I was recently reading an article about a woman named Bronnie Ware. Ms. Ware spent many years working in palliative care. She had the honor of spending extended time with people at the end of their lives. Last year, Ms. Ware wrote an article sharing the top 5 regrets of the dying. My plan is to write about each regret over the next five weeks. Hopefully, we can spend some time figuring out how to spare ourselves. I don't know about you, but squeezing as much juice out of the life lemon ranks fairly highly on my to-do list.
The first regret that she identifies is:
I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I find that as life goes on and swallows up our time and energy, it gets increasingly difficult for people to identify their dreams. Francis Tapon is a Harvard MBA grad who decided drop out of the business world to spend his days visiting every country in the world. Pretty impressive way to fulfill your dreams! His website provides some questions to help you discover your passions. For instance, what would you spend your days doing if you had a billion dollars?
My quick answer would probably involve a yacht in the Mediterranean. So is boating my passion? Not particularly. To discover our passions, we need to pare things down. For example, what would I be doing on the yacht? Well, I would be enjoying being in a beautiful locale, and reading, writing, and swimming. So, more specifically, my dream is to be surrounded by natural beauty, while being creative and physically active. From there, I have a better jumping off point to devise a plan.
As grown ups, dreams we once had, (e.g. being a paleontologist or professional football player) sometimes no longer seem palatable or reasonable. In addition to identifying our passions, we need to figure out how they can be a reality. That is, if my dreams include spending my days on a yacht in the Mediterranean, I hope I also fulfill my dream to win the powerball. But working toward buying a boat, or a cabin on a lake are more practical objectives that might also fulfill my desires.
Another interesting question Francis Tapon poses is: Who would you switch places with? The stipulation is that you leave money out of the equation. So, income aside, who would you want to switch days with. Tapon writes, "For instance, you may fantasize about switching jobs with Julia Roberts so that
you could live the lavish life, but would you be willing to put up with the
stresses of fame and the process of making and promoting a movie if you didn’t
get paid $20 million per film? Would you do her job if you were only making
$25,000 a year? Pick the person’s job, not the person’s pay. Look at what they
do day-to-day, and figure out if you would enjoy doing that—even at a modest
Here are some starting off points on the road to discovering your passions and minimizing regrets. If you've read this far, post your ideas! Who's life would you love to have? Zoologist? Algebra textbook author? Don't be shy.