This weekend brought the sad news of Prince Philip’s passing at the age of 99. But much less public, was news that someone from my year at school passed away, aged just 49. A difference in life span of half a century.
When we are touched by the death of another person, it can cause us to reflect on our own lives. How long do we have left? Are we making the most of our time? Will we achieve our best potential? Are we happy?
One of the most impactful books I read last year was The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. It was written by Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative care nurse. She devoted some years of her life caring for those in their final months. Based on that experience, she now helps others to live without regrets.
Of course, it’s not just those who are dying that have regrets. It can be surprising how many outwardly successful people carry invisible burdens. Often, it centres around feelings of having missed out.
Successful business owners can reach the point of retirement, sell up and become financially secure for life. But they might look back at the monumental efforts they put into building their business, only to miss their children growing up.
Others may come to the end of a long, loyal career with one or two employers, only to wonder if there’s something else they could have tried.
Many wish they had started their own business, but could never quite find the energy, the money or the time to make it happen.
It can be a revelation to find true purpose in life. The trouble is, we often find it a bit too late. Financial life planning can help. The process allows you to reflect properly on what’s important. Then it’s a case of planning your time and finances to support that.
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying
So, what are the top five regrets of those living out their final months and weeks?
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
4. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends
5. I wish I had let myself be happierBronnie Ware
“I wish I had more money” doesn’t make it to the top five. Neither do regrets about not having a bigger house or a better car or more stuff. Society encourages us to consume, to chase bigger and better things to spend money on. Lenders and retailers are only too happy to support this by making debt easier to obtain.
In the end, the chase for material possessions can fuel regret. Too much of our precious time spent on work that we don’t love. Not enough time devoted to our own wellbeing. Missing opportunities to do what we really want.
If you’ve reached the stage of life where you’re contemplating the bigger picture, then take time to contemplate. Don’t feel guilty about it. Better still, make time to contemplate properly.
It might feel like a mid-life crisis. Or maybe just a realisation that you’re fed up with your job and could be doing something more meaningful. Or like many, you might just want to know that you’ll be ok throughout retirement.
Financial Life Planning
Life planning helps to identify the activities that bring meaning and happiness to our lives.
Financial planning tends to focus on monetary goals. This involves calculations, assumptions, plans and financial products to achieve those goals.
Blend the two together and Financial Life Planning is an experience that helps create financial options in your life. That, in turn, can help achieve financial wellbeing and regret free living.
When we witness the passing of others, whatever their age, whatever their achievements, it’s ok to reflect on our own lives. Life is not a rehearsal; we only have one shot. So make it count.
If you’d like to discover more about the concept of financial life planning, click here to arrange an informal chat.