I remember being asked a very simple question while taking a personal development seminar in 2006. The assignment was to “Write down 50 things you want to do before you die.” Sounds easy, right? Fifty is not a big number to consider what will I do before I die.
I was only 37 years old at the time and planned to have another good 50 years ahead – quick math shows that as being only one new thing a year. I was certain this part of the workshop was going to be a breeze and planned to grab a coffee with the extra time I had left, as they gave us a full twenty minutes to complete the exercise…I was intending to be done in five.
I feverishly started to write. Coming up with items one, two and three was easy. Four required a little more thought. Five had me in a full-blown sweat. To be honest, I didn’t even really want five; I was just starting to panic at the thought that I was coming up empty.
My pen was frozen, my heart was heavy and my head was racing. How did this happen? How can this be? How can I seriously get to 37 years old and not be able rattle off at least 50 things I want to do right now, let alone before I die.
This was a wake-up call for me and put a spotlight on the reason as to why I wasn’t living a great life…I hadn’t ever given it much thought.
What an awakening to realize you have lived your life on complete auto-pilot. I imagined that I was a young child, put on a raft and set out to sea – drifting, drifting, drifting. I had very little control or consciousness of my course or destination and suddenly realized that was pretty much the truth.
Adrift for nearly four decades with no real course or destination, days turning into years, years turning into decades. While I felt grateful for the wonderful things in my life, I knew I was living completely by default.
In the book ‘The 5 Regrets of the Dying,” Bronnie Ware states that the #1 regret she encountered for those in her care as a Hospice Nurse was “not having the courage to live a life that was true to themselves and not what others expected.”
My lack of knowing what I wanted could have easily left me with that regret, and It can leave you with it too.