Things you don’t want to regret before you die


(Pic: part of my calendar last week: blue ones are my first priority and yellow ones are the second priority. Other priority items were not shown here.)

Let’s fast forward your life to the last few hours. Sad, I know but believe me, you will see why we do this ‘sad exercise’ in a minute.

Imagine you were lying in your death-bed now. Ask yourself this question: what are those things that you regret you should have done or have done more before you die? Close your eyes and spend one minute on this question.

Now, keep reading.

The chance is that your answer is often not about money, not about your position or title in your career, and of course, not about your car, house or designer handbags. The chance is that people often regret they didn’t spend enough time with family and they should have
spend more time enjoying life; most people regret that they didn’t do more travel.

OK, now back to the current moment. Reflect what you have come up with (those regrets) on your calendar next week and allocate your time according to those ‘regrets’. The thing you regret the most, should be your first priority. So, allocate your time to this action item first. Then allocate your time to your second priority, then the third … and so on. If you
can keep doing this on your calendar, then you will have few regrets by the time you are about to die. You will die with a smile.

I almost lost my health back about eight years ago. At that time, I had a good career as a ‘rising star’ in the academia; young with brilliant ideas, brilliant papers, projects and had already published my first book (publishing an academic book was actually harder
than you may imagine). I was busy at that time. My health condition was so bad at that time that I couldn’t sleep during the night. This made all things miserable including career and family.

Then I made an important change: asked for a two-week extended sick leave and ‘unpluged’ from the world. I did nothing, absolutely nothing during that two-week time. My mum even flew in to see me from overseas. I was Mum’s son again for two good weeks. I recovered and I woke up.

If you look at my calendar last week, you will find that I allocated enough time for my triathlon training, then I organised my working hours around my first priority, health. Now I work for less hours, healthier and with higher performance than before!

Things you regret the most before you die should be your first priority and get the most of time and attention. With this in mind, you will fully enjoy your life and leave the world at the end of the day with a big smile on your face.

Dr. C. Richard Wu @

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