How to Avoid the Biggest Regret of the Dying

LIfe Advice from the dying


When I was 12 years old, my family moved to Farmington, New Hampshire to live in the semi-converted attic of a retirement home owned by my great aunt.  My mother was offered free room and board in exchange for running the home.  For the three months we lived there we ate all of our meals with the elderly residents.

After dinner, I’d often sit and talk with one particular 90-year-old woman named Bunny.  She chain-smoked and had a great sense of humor. She reminded me a lot of my grandmother.

On weekends, I would do her hair in pin-curls and it made her so happy to wake up to a full head of curls.  This joy was completely lost on me who had  naturally curly hair and longed for straight.

It was not quite a normal life for the average 6th grader but I later came to cherish those moments I spent with the elderly. I remember thinking how sad it was that some of them had been forgotten while others had forgotten everything, their minds being lost to dementia. 

I believe this was one of the experiences in my childhood that shaped me into an "old soul". It made me appreciate life perspective  from the rearview.  I'm always thinking about what consequences my actions today will have on my life in the end.

This is why I was so interested in what I could learn from the dying about living an abundant life.

The Biggest Regret of the Dying

Bonnie Ware, a hospice nurse in Australia, cared for people in the last weeks of their lives.  She wrote a book about the similar regrets that surfaced again and again among her patients called The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying and shares some snippets of it on her blog here

According to Bonnie's research, the biggest regret of the dying was not having the courage to live their dreams.  Most people she encountered had not honored even half of their dreams because of choices they made or didn't make based on living a life for others expectations.

"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us as we live. "Norman Cousins

How to Avoid The Biggest Regret of the Dying

If the biggest regret of the dying is not having the courage to live their dreams, then how can we avoid this regret for our own lives? I created a workbook to help myself avoid this regret, called the 7 Day Life Refocus Challenge.  You can click the link to sign up for the Honey & Figs Newsletter and get free access to the 7 Day Life Refocus Challenge Workbook. 

Below are a few excerpts from the workbook that will help you avoid this regret too.  


Determine Your Dreams

Step one in living your dreams is actually determining what those dreams are. 

Related Read: DREAM BIG

If you were to write your own story, what would it entail? What would you be? Where would you go? What would you do?  Ask yourself these questions and write down all of the dreams you want to accomplish in your lifetime.  Try not to let your present circumstances limit you from dreaming big. 


Begin With the End In Mind

Imagine you are at the end of your life.  You have accomplished everything on your big dreams list. As you lie breathing your last, will having accomplished these dreams satisfy you?  If not, what's missing?

What will you really care that you accomplished when you reach the end of your days?  

Fill in the blank below with your most meaningful dreams.

At the end of my days I will care most that I...

Usually what gives your life most meaning will correspond to your life purpose.  That thing you are super gifted to do and passionate about.  If you need help finding your purpose, READ: Discover Your Superpower


Make a Plan

Having a plan is the way to bring your dreams to life.  Making that plan can be a lot less overwhelming than you think.  I use a three-part method for planning my dreams.  1) Set Big Goals 2) Niche Down 3) Schedule tasks.

It works like this:

Choose one dream from your list and make it actionable. Ask yourself what are the five big tasks it will take to accomplish this dream? Write them down.  These are your five big goals.

For example, one of my dreams is to have a successful blog.  
Accomplishing my dream would look like: helping thousands of other people live their dreams and making $XX income per month from the blog.

The five tasks it will take to get there are:

  1. writing pillar content

  2. growing my platform

  3. growing my subscribers
  4. creating products to sell
  5. partnering with brands

NOW TAKE THOSE 5 BIG GOALS AND MAKE THEM BITE-SIZED.  This is known as niching down.

Start with task 1 and ask yourself what are the steps it would take for me to accomplish this task? Using task 1 example above, niching down would look like this:

Writing pillar content

  • Create an editorial calendar for the next 12 months
  • Set A Posting Cadence (3 times/week)

  • Research the posts

  • Taking the photos or finding photos
  • Write the posts
  • Schedule the posts

Use this same niche-down process for your other 4 big goals.

Lastly, take a look at your tasks and start assigning time on your calendar for when you will do them.

If you Need Help Making a Plan for Your Dreams

If you’d like more in-depth help with the process of making a plan to live your dreams you can sign up for a free download of my 7 Day Life Refocus Challenge Workbook.  This FREE 29-page workbook will help you determine your most meaningful dreams and give you a step-by-step guide to achieving them.


The biggest regret of the dying is not having the courage to live their dreams.  We can avoid this regret if we take some time to assess our lives and determine what is most meaningful to us.

I have found the below process most helpful:

  1. Determine your dreams
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Make a plan 

If you would like step-by-step instruction with helping you determine your most meaningful dreams and how to make them actionable you can sign up for the free 7 Day Life Refocus Challenge Workbook.

Happy Dreaming!


Next you'll want to read DISCOVER YOUR SUPERPOWER

Welcome to Honey & Figs! I'm Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.

FREE 7 Day Life Refocus Challenge Workbook

Looking for a practical process to live your dreams? Sign up for my 7- Day Life Refocus Challenge Workbook!  This FREE 29-page workbook will help you refocus on your dreams and make a plan to achieve them.

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Comments 3

  1. Have you ever read an article that hits you so hard, it makes your chest hurt? An article that literally changes your life?
    This is that article for me. Incredibly powerful and motivating.

    Thank you for this!

    1. Post

      I am so happy to hear how this article impacted you, Steph. Thank you so much for taking the time to feedback. I am humbled by your comment. Best to you!

  2. Pingback: 3 Ways to Find Meaning in the Fire | Honey & Figs

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