Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ditch the "To-Do" List

During the first six months of retirement many of us develop long “to-do” lists. With this we derive satisfaction from crossing chores off the list that have been unfinished for years.

At first a to-do list is just what we need in retirement. The jobs bring structure to our day and create a sense of accomplishment, both important at a time when we may have lost our sense of direction.

Nonetheless, sooner or later a to-do list loses its power to satisfy and gratify. If you’re hitting the snooze button for the third time, then it’s time to consider a different list: a “no-regret” list.

A no-regret list is a way to live life backwards—by fast forwarding we find direction for how to live now.

Begin by considering what really matters to you. If you were on your deathbed, what would you regret having left undone?

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, then begin with a list developed by a palliative nurse who recorded the most common regrets of the dying in a book called “The Top Five Regrets of The Dying.”

  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 had stayed in touch with my friends.  
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Consider each of the above and create a to-do list based on no-regrets. For example:

*Initiate steps to pursue an unfulfilled dream.

*Speak up—commit to courageous conversations instead of playing it safe and settling for a mediocre existence.

*Reconnect with friends and family.

*Stop pretending to be happy. Pursue new habits and patterns that will bring laughter and silliness into your life.

Retirement is the perfect time to work on your no-regret list. The other lists can wait.

Adapted from The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. Click here for full article.

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