1. You didn’t live the life you wanted to live. You listened to the naysayers. Ignored your dreams. You lived to everyone’s expectations but your own. Everyone else’s needs took precedence over yours. It was your life but you forgot to live it.
2. You didn’t take more risks in your career. You stayed at that 9-5 because it was “secure.” Your job was unfulfilling and woefully uninspiring but you couldn’t just quit. You had the mortgage, the car payments, and student loans to worry about, among other things. You needed your 401k and the health insurance for the kids. There’s no way you could have pursued the career you always wanted. That passion you managed to tame but never stopped burning inside of you. And now you’ve just realized that you could have done that. You could have done all of that. You could have done anything you wanted.
3. You didn’t take more risks in your love life. You didn’t further pursue a relationship with that person. You know, the one who has never left your mind. The one who seems to pop up in your dreams from time to time just to remind you of what could have been. But you had your reasons. You needed to get your life together. You needed to be financially ready. You needed to get your mind right. You needed more time, just a few more months — only, that month never came and eventually, you both moved on. You see, those perfect conditions you were waiting on were never going to happen. There are things in life for which you will never be fully prepared. Sometimes you just have to put it out all there and whatever happens, happens.
4. You didn’t travel. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be seen, yet you barely ventured from your corner of the world. The only traveling you really did involved the monotonous daily routine of your commute to and from work. You always wanted to see the Grand Canyon. You figured you would go some day. Visiting Paris was your dream vacation, but you never considered it a serious destination. Instead of taking vacations, you took staycations. You stayed home. You stayed local. You just stayed and now you wish you went.
5. You worked too hard and didn’t spend enough time with family and friends. You do not remember the last time you met with friends for dinner. Wait? What friends? You never made time for them so they stopped making time for you. Your spouse? You barely recognize the person you married. You’ve spent more time with your coworkers than your own children. You don’t really know them. You don’t really know yourself.
6. You didn’t express enough love and gratitude to the people you care about most. You didn’t tell them how much they meant to you when they were still alive to hear it from you directly. You didn’t hold their hands, embrace them, or look them in the eyes and tell them with all of your heart that you loved them. You didn’t get to see that look in their eyes that let you know that they loved you too.
7. You didn’t choose happiness above all else. You think about all the things mentioned above and you realized you didn’t do any of them. Not one. And as the years have passed, instead of reminiscing about the things that have given you a happy, fulfilling life, all you have is this list of regrets.