The death of a loved one always reminds me that life is too short to be lived with regrets and we have to be intentional in all that we do.
I recently lost an aunt to leukemia. She was my nanny when I was young and was someone that I was close to. However over the years, I began to see less and less of her other than Chinese New Year and the occasional visit. Naturally when she passed on, I asked myself if I should have visited her more in the hospital, if I should have brought her out for meals more, if I should have planned a holiday with her and the list of goes on.
The death of a loved one always reminds me that life is too short to be lived with regrets and we have to be intentional in all that we do. I am sure most of us would agree that we want to live a life of meaning and without regrets, although in reality it is so much more difficult than it sounds.
What then is a life of meaning and intent?
To me it means being able to articulate a clear life purpose of why we do what we do and to actually do the things that matter to us as much as we can. Sadly, this thinking about our life purpose does not come as naturally as it should and I dare say most of us think about it probably only in three situations. The first one is when we lose a loved one like I did last week and the second is when we ourselves are faced with perhaps a terminal illness that causes us to think about the life that we would like to lead with the limited time on hand. The final situation was what had happened to me some seven years ago in which some people would call it the mid-life or quarter life crisis. It was when life was not too bad but not too great either; life is sort of just rolling along but somehow not quite “it”.
In a bid to find “it”, I did the unthinkable of leaving my job at the age of 32 years old so that I can have the time and space to think about why I was doing what I was doing. Why was I working in the work that I did? What would I do for work so that it would be meaningful to me? Did I treat my family and friends the way that I wanted to? After much thinking and reflecting, reading books, talking to people and attending seminars and talks, I decided that what I really wanted to do is to impact lives around me by doing training and coaching. Meaningful work for me would then be to start a training business.
I am thankful that all went well and today I am still doing work that I find meaningful. Work is just a part of life but out of that came the crafting of my personal purpose statement from which I begin to be intentional in all that I did with my time so that I could try my very best to live life with no regrets.
So should I have done more for my aunt?
Perhaps I should have but I also know that I did the best I could in the last days of a person dear to me. Feelings of regrets are not something that we can avoid in life. However, living a life with intent and meaning can help us manage these feelings because we know that we have thought through clearly how we want to spend our time each day.
Have you thought about what matters for your life?
- Are the things that you are doing with your time meaningful? What could make it more meaningful?
- What legacy would you like to leave behind when you are no longer here on earth?
- What would your loved ones say about you at your funeral if you were to pass on today?