Ask someone in their 70s, 80s, or beyond this question, and you’ll be certain to get a heartfelt response. What are most people’s life regrets? Here are some common responses:

  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Forgive or make amends.
  • Take more time for myself.
  • Be good to my body and take impeccable care of it.
  • Choose a supportive and loving life partner.
  • Work less and play more.
  • Laugh often
  • Accomplish my goals
  • Take life less seriously.
  • Listen to my inner voice.

In fact, one study which asked 270 Americans to describe a significant life regret, found the most commonly reported regrets were romance (19.3%), family (16.9%), education (14.0%), career (13.8%), finance (9.9%), and parenting (9.0%). A different study showed that life regrets often result from decisions that move you away from the ideal version of yourself. The person you want to be (ideal self) is grounded by your values and what is really important to you. It’s the decisions that compromise your values that increase the risk of regret.

In the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, the author Bronnie Ware, a palliative caregiver, describes the five most common wishes she heard from her clients:

  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 happier.”

The best way to limit life regrets is to understand them. Which of the above lists resonates with you? Each person’s response will be different. And it’s never too late to take action to live the life you truly want.

Many who come to Sanoviv for health reasons get well and improve their health. They make lifestyle changes and make different choices. The Sanoviv psychology and mind-body departments help people on their wellness journey and often provide guidance for forgiveness, life purpose, and inner wisdom. Our trained staff helps people relieve stress, chaos, and emotional trauma, an essential part of health. Sanoviv changes lives.

So, to minimize regrets, ask yourself this question: If I knew then what I know now, what would I do differently?