In Essentialism Greg McKeown quotes Bronnie Ware’s blog post “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” reposted in Huffington Post to make the case that one of the benefits of living in the essentialist mindset is living without regrets. McKeown quotes number 1. I include number 2 below.
“1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.” (emphasis mine)
First, clear the mental clutter to know your dream. When I was in Iowa I ate a lot of pork and beef and very few vegetables. I experienced pains in my stomach and so naturally I thought it was either constipation/digestive trouble or cancer. I was awake in the middle of the night pondering what I would do if I was dying of cancer and had only a year to live. The answer came to me with certainty: I would write.
So why is my own writing the last priority in my day to day life? I get everything else done before I get started with my writing projects. Since childhood I have wanted to be a writer and dreamed of writing a book. I would regret not getting that done before I died. Once I recognize the personal importance of writing, it makes it easier to say no to working on other projects I am tempted to take on for the money.