Maybe more than most people, I’ve always had a very low tolerance for wasting my time.

Sure, the bosses were usually rigid and frustrating. And yes, the work was often tedious and boring. But what I really couldn’t stand about the corporate grind was coming to work, day after day, and literally feeling my time being wasted.

Every day that I spent not knowing what I really wanted, not feeling fulfilled, and not feeling any higher purpose was physically painful.

Watching my life pass me by was the emotional equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. I couldn’t deal with it.

And for that, I’m thankful. My inability to tolerate “the way things are” was what motivated me to do something different … to take the risk of quitting, becoming a coach, and starting my own business.

And in turn, that ballsy move has enabled hundreds of other people (those that I’ve been privileged to call clients and readers of this blog) to do the same, which is even more gratifying.

BUT I KNOW THAT SOME PEOPLE HAVE A HIGHER TOLERANCE THAN I DID

Some people aren’t rebellious, by nature, and that’s OK. Many people are understandably afraid to venture outside the norm, even though they have no desire to waste their life doing something that lacks passion or fulfillment. It’s scary.

And for some, the wasting of time doesn’t feel quite so bad. Things aren’t great, but they’re not terrible, either. To risk rocking the boat, in those instances, can feel more difficult. It seems like there’s a lot to lose (like security, stability, and the good opinion of other people, to start).

And that’s when I like to bring out the big guns …

Do you all remember that study (which was then turned into a book), The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying? It was done by a nurse, Bonnie Ware, who cared for elderly people on their deathbeds.

Most people have heard of it, but not everyone (myself included, until recently) knows exactly what the 5 regrets are.

When I looked them up, I was shocked by what I saw. Because every regret on this list is something I regularly help people prevent in coaching:

  1. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
  1. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  1. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

And the top regret 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.

YOU CAN SEE THE REGRET BEING BORN

It blew my mind that this is exactly what I coach EVERY SINGLE ONE of my clients around on a daily basis. These regrets are what I get to reverse through coaching.

“I feel like I should work a lot, but I want to enjoy my life, too. I feel guilty.” … “I’m wondering if it’s even possible to be really happy.” … “I’m scared to break free of what other people think.” … “I want to stand up for myself, but I’m afraid of the consequences.”

All of the fears I hear regularly are the things that, when left ignored for decades on end, equal a lifetime’s worth of regret.

Seeing this list made me immensely grateful … not only that I’d prevented this regret for myself, but that the work I’m doing in the world is directly preventing this kind of regret from ever being born.

NOTICE WHAT ISN’T ON THIS LIST

This reminds me of a powerful quote from Arianna Huffington’s bestseller, Thrive:

“It is very telling what we don’t hear in eulogies. We almost never hear things like: ‘The crowning achievement of his life was when he made senior vice president.’ Or: ‘He increased market share for his company multiple times during his tenure.’ Or: ‘She never stopped working. She ate lunch at her desk. Every day.’ Or: ‘He never made it to his kid’s Little League games because he always had to go over those figures one more time.’ Or: ‘While she didn’t have any real friends, she had six hundred Facebook friends, and she dealt with every email in her in-box every night.’ Or: ‘His PowerPoint slides were always meticulously prepared.’

Our eulogies are always about the other stuff: what we gave, how we connected, how much we meant to our family and friends, small kindnesses, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh.” 

Arianna is right. What ends up really mattering are the things you can’t measure with a deadline or a quarterly review. Our lives are ultimately about our feelings, which are too powerful to try to measure or make tangible … things like connection, generosity, kindness, passion, fulfillment, laughter, and courage.

If you look back on that Top 5 list, you’ll find ALL of those feelings echoed among the regrets of the dying. People look back on their lives and wish they’d focused on what mattered … connection, passion, and fulfillment.

Not to thoroughly depress you, but … isn’t it a massive shame that most people don’t realize what matters until it’s too late?

THE FANTASTIC NEWS IS … IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR YOU

Most of you reading this are well-and-truly young. You’re in your 20s or 30s.

And even if you’re not that young … you’re definitely young in comparison to the people whose regrets became the inspiration for the Top 5 list.

Which means that none of you have a good excuse for wasting your life. There’s ample time to turn things around.

It really doesn’t take much to change, you know.

If you need somewhere to start, then start with an honest look at your priorities. What are you giving too much attention to? How much are you living to please other people, at your own expense? What are you afraid to do because it’s “risky”? What aren’t you giving yourself permission to explore?

I guarantee you that none of your fears are worth your anxiety. I bet that, in the grand scheme of your life, your current concerns are actually so minimal that you’ll severely regret how much weight you gave them.

If the biggest thing you’re ever going to regret is NOT being true to who you are … then you’re totally free. You quite literally have nothing to lose. Isn’t that the best news ever?

twitter-birdThe only way you can waste your life is by refusing to live it on YOUR terms.

Do your priorities need to change? I’d love to hear your impressions of the Top 5 Regrets in the comments.

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THERE’S A REASON I PICKED THIS TOPIC FOR TODAY

It was a huge, revelatory moment for me to realize that the biggest regrets people have in their lifetime are the very same things that coaching reverses.

I was always fulfilled by what I do, but never more so than now. What’s more gratifying than knowing that you’ve helped someone live a passionate life, free of regret?

And while 1-on-1 coaching is spectacular, every once in a while I get REALLY excited because I get to help a LOT of people at once find passion and fulfillment. Today is one of those days because …

PPVE Home page image 9-15-15

The PPVE (The Passion Plan Virtual Experience!) is open for enrollment again TODAY!

IF YOU’RE NEW TO CLARITY ON FIRE, HERE’S THE QUICK VERSION. THE PPVE IS:

{BIG piece of advice … If you’re on our VIP list, you’ll automatically get a $50 discount code. It takes 2 seconds to join.}

More than a year ago we asked ourselves, “How can we come up with a process that helps people clearly get un-stuck and figure out their passion in life? Without a shit-ton of time and money necessary?” This program was the answer, and it’s been a GREAT one, if we do say so.

We sincerely hope you’ll join us. It would be our honor to help ensure that you live a passionate, fulfilled life … free of regret.

Much Love,

Rachel (+ Kristen)

3 comments | add a comment | Share this > Tweet this > Email this >
  1. Hi ladies!
    This blog has more meaning to me today than ever before. Every morning I wake up with a sinking feeling and anxiety, because I wish I cared deeply about what I was waking up for. For what I was about to get out of bed and get ready for, for where I’m driving to go waste my day behind a desk daydreaming about my next adventure. Thinking, is this it and is there anything more? Shouldn’t I just be happy with the way things are? (your last week’s post!)

    There is this entrepreneurial NEED in me that is trying to break free and come out. But the problem is, I don’t know what is it that I’m supposed to do with it. It’s making my chest hurt day after day and you’re right, it physically hurts. It’s painful to be silent and content and make your co-workers think you love this ‘great’ new job. I will admit, I’m lucky to have been hired at the company that I was hired at 3 months ago after a big move. But I still don’t feel fulfilled and I’m feeling guilty about that! Thanks for speaking in a language I can understand, and that most of us out there can understand. Good to know I’m not the only one that feels this way and feel lost and confined. None of us want the 5 regrets. Thanks, I appreciate your posts every week!

  2. Love this post and so glad I came across this site! Everything you mentioned above resonates with me so much its a little scary! I currently live in the corporate world, working a job which just doesn’t challenge me and feel every day is a waste, its so incredibly frustrating at times but I refuse to allow this to always be the way. Behind the scenes I am working hard to create a life that will allow me the freedom and excitement I crave!

    Thanks for the great post!

  3. Hi
    Thank u so much for sharing the regrets list we often take life for granted. I’m going to be the best i can be for me and i accept no one’s definition of my life as long as what i’ m doing doesn’t hurt anyone or me. What i think and say matters most than what others say about me or to me. I ‘m inspired , i choose to take charge and dominate my environment positively ,passionately and confidently because i got one life to live, my life, for me.i will strive to make everyday better than yesterday.

    Thanks i have learned that, the worst thing is to have REGRETS in life.i will push those boundaries and keep nurturing my dreams.
    Cheers.

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