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Live Without Regret

I can still remember shuffling through the hospital lobby to the elevator. I was being re-admitted two weeks after having my chest cut open, due to complications. At this point, I was not sure exactly what the complications were, but I knew I was not well.

It’s hard to put into words what I felt, physically, on that elevator ride. The closest I can come to explaining it is that it felt like my body was going into energy saving mode, preparing to power down. Everything was pulling inward, slowing, and dulling. The rest of me was very aware of my physical state, so as my body slowed down my brain ramped up. I began to have a lot of thoughts…and fears…and questions…and regrets.  

My life did not flash before my eyes but, as I acknowledged my own mortality, I was overcome with a strong feeling of how disappointed I would be if this was the end. Have you ever had that feeling, or given yourself the time to think about that? If your body began to power down, how would you feel about your life up to this point?

As I have said before, you do not have to experience something like my surgery to evaluate your time. This pandemic has given us all a taste of what I experienced when my world suddenly changed dramatically. I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes right now to think about what is really important to you. What really matters in your life? What needs to happen for you to eventually power down without regret?

I recently wrote my obituary. Not because I am planning to die soon, but because I am planning to die without regret. Putting my legacy into words was a powerful reflection on where my time is going and if it lines up with that ultimate life goal – to live up to my obituary. My time in that hospital elevator was probably less than three minutes, but it was three minutes that changed my perspective on time and how I was living my life. We cannot wait to prioritize the most valued aspects of our life, because we never know what could happen to leave us with regret. We have to begin prioritizing the important things right now.

Take a moment to think about your life. What matters? If you found yourself in a hospital, questioning if you would ever leave, what would you long for? If you could design your perfect day, what would you include in it? Once you know the answers to these questions, commit time to living out that truth. Write down your answers where you can incorporate them into your days. Consider writing your own obituary as it’s a very powerful exercise.

I experienced a lot of clarity in my elevator ride, but it wasn’t until a full year later that I started making changes in my life to prioritize the epiphanies from that day. Over 6 years later, I am so thankful to still carry that experience and live differently because of it. My only regret is not doing it sooner. Let today be the day for you to decide what is truly important in your life and prioritize it.