When I’m most authentically me, I can admit that my greatest fear is getting to the end of my life and regretting the life I lived. It’s a fear I come by honestly. Growing up, I had the unusual experience of observing two parents, each with their own purpose. Mom pursued her purpose, had a beautiful life surrounded by dear friends and left the world doing what she loved to do, while dad gave up on his purpose, lived a lonely life and left with regrets.
To believe that we are simply the result of a random act of fertilization, without any real purpose for our lives, is to deny ourselves the opportunity to pursue a life that matters to us and not merely a life based on what our family, friends and society deem as acceptable. It’s a belief that robs us of the chance to use what makes us unique to do work that makes us happy. And it creates the foundation for a life built on regret.
Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time studying and living personal development. I can reframe things, create a different mindset, make new choices and better decisions. I can do any number of things to change my energy. But if I ignore the still, small voice inside that is constantly urging me to do work that matters, I run the risk of ending up like the people Bronnie Ware cared for and wrote about in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
Bronnie was a palliative care worker at a hospice who interviewed her patients and always asked them, “What are your biggest regrets?” The number one regret among people in their last days and weeks of life was invariably some version of, “I wished I’d lived a life true to myself; not the life others expected me to live.” And if you take a moment to think about it, that’s how most of us live.
We live someone else’s version of our life whenever we allow the expectations of our family, friends and society to determine how we show up in the world. There’s no reason to think we would live any differently without a lot of work on ourselves because we are conditioned to follow the advice from others as soon as we leave the womb. And then Mark Twain drops a truth bomb.
Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the you are born
and the day you find out why.” Given that we’ve already experienced the first most important day, we must focus on that second most important day if we are to live a life that’s true to ourselves and not the life we are expected to live; and to guarantee ourselves a regret-free transition from this life to our next adventure.
The beautiful thing about finding and living your purpose is that, while it comes with an expiration date, it doesn’t come with an age limit. You can begin the pursuit at 7, 37 or 87. I’m 56 and I had my first inkling of purpose at 46 and have only recently locked in on it. George Eliot was right: “It is never too late to become what you might have been.” So my message to you is this:
Figure out why you’re on this planet and do something about it while you have the time. Know that the gifts you brought with you for the journey through this life are unique to you, and that when you leave this world they leave with you. That’s how you know your birth was not a random event. You are here to use what you brought with you to do work you’re passionate about, causes you to grow and makes a difference in the world.
When you create an authentic life around the pursuit of your purpose, two things will happen as your drawing your final breaths on this planet and contemplate your next adventure:
First, you will be filled with joy as you look back on your life and think to yourself, “I did what I came here to do, and I have no regrets.”
Second, the Creator of the Universe, who held you in Her arms before releasing you into the world, will gather you back up into Her arms…look at you…smile…and say,
“Well done, my beloved…Welcome Home.”