There’s that moment after a funeral, usually sometime after the third wine, where friends ask one another “Am I doing enough with my life?”
Most of us tend to avoid facing the reality of our mortality, but there’s nothing like death to crystalise the mind. The admission that we want something ‘more’ from our lives and careers brings underlying fears and insecurities bubbling to the surface. This is confronting, but can also be the catalyst for change.
For me, such ‘funeral moments’ bring to light a fear of living a bland life, of avoiding risk, wasting potential and losing sight of my priorities. It feels just like regret. But while regret is experienced in hindsight, this is a pre-emptive regret for the future that you’re yet to live.
And that’s the beauty of it.
Unlike deeds gone by that can never be changed, these moments of insight let you assess your imagined life to come, and then resolve to live it differently from here on.
The late Steve Jobs understood death’s incredible power for renewal when he said:
“Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”
I’ve long related to the wistful song called Goodbye by The Sundays, which concludes with the line “Give me an easy life and a peaceful death.” It is a lovely, cosy and comfortable idea, but it sounds like a recipe for regret to me.
If you dare sneak a peek at your unmade deathbed and don’t like everything you see, now’s the time to turn over the mattress and wash the sheets. Your mum can’t make this one for you.
In the booming words of a friend of mine “Man the hell up, man!” Grab life by the nuts and take responsibility for your own legacy.
I’ve resolved to man up, take more risks and stay focused on what’s truly important.
Right, I’m off to make my bed before I die in it.
Regrets, do you have a view?