The One Thing You Don’t Want to Say On Your Deathbed

“If only I would have…”

This is the one thing you don’t want to say on your deathbed.

“If I only I would have…” Fill in the blank.

… spent more time with family.

… traveled more often.

… gone to college.

finished that book.

taken a risk.

What is your, “If only…?”

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” – John Barrymore

Imagine your 90-year old self meets you today.

You reflect on life and talk about what really matters in the end.

What does your 90 year old self have to say?

There are a few themes that emerge when this type of question has been researched.

According to Robert Waldinger, the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, healthy meaningful relationships are what matter in the end.

It’s clear that we’re social creatures whom need connection, love, and belonging.

Relationships are a given.

Beyond this social need, what else is important?

Author Bronnie Ware points out in her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, that people want to live a life they’re proud of and do more of what matters to them.

They want to feel their life was significant and stood for something.

People want to feel like their life had purpose and they weren’t just going through the motions.

If you don’t feel like you’re on the right path, its time to think about what really matters to you?

What are your deepest values? What do you care about? What are passionate about?

What will you choose?

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

The clients I work with want to follow their dreams, but they also want to play it safe and avoid risk. 

They would follow their dreams if they had more security, certainty, and a clear route to their destination.

But it isn’t always that simple.

So we stop dreaming. It becomes time to grow up. We loose touch with the part of us, that for awhile, actually believed we could “DO IT!”

Instead we give our attention to the part of us that doesn’t want to screw-up, and “play it safe” starts to sound really appealing.


There’s the other part of us.

A part of us that we loose touch with but is always there.

The part of us that wants to make a profound mark on the world. The part that isn’t based on pure rationality but instead comes from the burning desire of our heart.

The part that wants to walk to the edge and peak over.

The curious, inspired, and courageous part of you that you’ve been ignoring.

What’s the real risk?

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Boldly putting yourself out there and going for a big dream is risky.

It’s risky because it’s vulnerable.

It’s vulnerable to embrace and accept failure, fear, and frustration.

Going against the norm and personally creating something is vulnerable.

To believe in a dream is vulnerable… BUT it’s completely enlivening!

It is liberating and freeing to follow your heart.

You experience a new found love for life.

When you stop deny your dreams you begin to really live.

Fear, shame, and limiting beliefs start to fall apart.

Greater possibilities and a remarkable life don’t come from playing it safe.

The benefits of following your dream far outweighs the risk.

Live without regrets

“Your problem is you’re… too busy holding onto your unworthiness.” – Ram Dass

When my time comes, I want to be able to say that, “I lived a full, rich, and meaningful life.” “I was bold and courageous,” and “I made a difference in peoples’ lives.”

In order to do this I have to drop the excuses that keep me playing small.

These are old stories about not being worthy and good enough. That I’m ordinary and because of this should hold back and play it safe.

What’s you’re excuse?

“I’m too busy.” “I’m preoccupied with my job.” “I’m too afraid.” “It’s just too risky.”

You don’t have to be on your deathbed to realize that life is too short to live with excuses.

What matters most is how you live, not how long you live.

The way to have no regrets is to follow your heart. To trust what you’re being called to do.

As Wayne W. Dyer said, “Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul. Listen to that inner voice, and don’t get to the end of your life and say, ‘What if my whole life has been wrong?”

If you notice a feeling that there is greatness and excellence in your future, give your attention to this!

If you’re called to create something legendary, to go on a quest, or to change your life path, get reacquainted with this part of you.

Choose life! Choose boldness and courage!

If you do, at the end of your life, you will reminisce on a masterpiece.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Photo credit: Lukas Budimaier