How to live life to the fullest and avoid regrets

How to live life to the fullest and avoid regrets

Would you say that you are living life to the fullest, or is there is anything that you would like to change now to avoid having regrets in the future?

The global pandemic has forced us to view life through a different lens. It has been a shared experience and one that has made us question our mortality, amongst other things.

Often, it’s only when faced with poignant times in our lives that we start to think about how we should have done things differently.

Common regrets in life

Bronnie Ware worked as a palliative care nurse. Published in her book called The Top Five Regrets of The Dying, she revealed the most common themes from her discussions:

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.


Through Bronnie’s work, she found that people ‘grow’ a lot when faced with their own mortality and that we should never underestimate someone’s capacity for growth.

As you’d expect, there’s a rollercoaster of emotions that she’s seen, including denial, fear, anger, remorse, and then eventual acceptance.

Bronnie’s findings were first published in 2009, and while academics have completed numerous studies worldwide since, the same themes continue to reoccur.

Our relationships with others, by large, carry the most weight. This is no surprise given that it’s well established amongst psychologists that the quality of our relationships is crucial to our emotional wellbeing. Relationships are more valuable than work concerns or how much money you have!

Avoiding Regrets

It’s impossible to know what we will regret the most. But Bonnie’s findings may get you thinking about what actions you can take today, in the present, so that your future self has fewer regrets when looking back.

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

The most common regret of all.

Identifying your goals, whatever they are, is a step towards living the life you want to live. Write them down!

This is why when we talk about structuring your finances, we start with your life goals first. The two core resources to help you achieve these are money and time. As financial planners, we can help with the money side, but the moment you lose your health, it’s too late. Start not by thinking about your finances, but by thinking about all the things you said you’d do ‘tomorrow’ and let us help you to take action today.

  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard

Here at Balance: Wealth Planning, we all love our work… but we highly doubt anyone ever regretted not spending more time at the office!

In truth, we consider ourselves a progressive company where all staff have a great work/life balance. However, we recognise that not everyone has this flexibility.

As a nation, we’re putting in the most hours in the EU at two and a half weeks more a year than our European counterparts. One of the well-known side effects of this is the rise in stress and mental health issues as well the impact on physical health with an increase in heart disease and stroke which are the leading causes of death in the world.

Remember, your job was there before you, and it will be there after you. Make time for what matters most. Be open to new opportunities, ones more suited to a better work/life balance. If you live a fulfilling work-life, don’t forget to live a fulfilling life outside of work too.

  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

Many people suppress their feelings to keep the peace with others. We cannot control the actions or reactions of others, so don’t focus on that. Speaking with kindness and honesty will raise your relationships to a healthier and happier level or free you from unhealthy relationships.

At the positive end of feelings, everyone wants to feel appreciated. Sadly, we’re sometimes better at receiving appreciation than we are at giving it. If you love someone you care about, then tell them often.

  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

As we go through our busy lives, it’s normal to lose touch with our true friends. We’ll have our imperfect friends, but these rarely stand the test of time. But true friends are hard to come by, so be the first to call, write or visit. You will both be glad you did.

  • I wish that I had let myself be happier

We can all take ourselves far too seriously at times but taking life too seriously is one of life’s biggest regrets. Bad things happen to all of us, but happiness is a choice. Unfortunately, many people don’t realise this until the end.

There is often an imbalance between the comfort of familiarity and the fear of change, and we get stuck in our ways. Let go and smile, laugh properly and deeply, and find the joy in your life.

This is why it’s important to make sure your financial affairs are in order because life is about experiences, and money is a tool to help you achieve them.

Bottom Line

As financial planners, we know that plans aren’t set in stone. Life is fluid and more nuanced. Sometimes we need to work harder or spend more time on a project. Sometimes we lose touch with our friends. Sometimes we put others needs ahead of our own. All of this is okay.

Our goal is to help you to live rich lives; the lives you want to live.

If you would like to discuss your situation more, then please get in touch and speak to one of our financial planners.