Writing about regrets can help you understand the circumstances that led to the regret and hopefully provide you with some insight. Regrets are inevitable but take some comfort in knowing that we’ve all made some major blunders in our life, so you’re not alone.
In his book No Regrets, Dr. Hamilton Beazley, lists 10 steps to letting go of regrets and the very first step is to write them down.
Exercise: In your ethical will notebook, find a blank page and at the top write the heading “Regrets”. As you look back on your life make a list of your regrets. Don’t worry if some are seemingly insignificant – put them down anyway. For example, one of my regrets is that I never learned to swim. Now this isn’t huge and if I really wanted to, I could enroll in a swimming class for adults. What’s important is that you just begin the process of listing regrets.
Look at your list and select one or two regrets that you consider to be significant. Write about this regret and what you’ve learned and attempt to put it in some perspective. As an example, in my ethical will I wrote,
One of my regrets in life is that I never pursued my belief that I had the potential to be a television or radio host. I’m a natural in front of an audience and my publicity appearances on TV and radio have always been fun. I loved the energy involved. What I know though is that had I pursued that avenue so many other doors would have been closed. I would never have made the films I have and most likely wouldn’t be a personal historian, something I truly love. Besides, if I still have the “bug” I can find avenues to satisfy my interest. Who knows, maybe I’ll host a Community Radio or Television program on “Life after 50.”
The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines achievement as a result gained by effort. The result can be big or small. It’s the effort that counts. What I want you to consider in this section are your achievements. Our lives may have been filled with prominent achievements or unheralded ones. This is an opportunity to write about what you consider important. My mother believed her main achievements were running a well organized home, being a loving wife and mother and producing the best pastries in the neighborhood.
Exercise:Turn to another blank page in your notebook and write the heading, “Achievements.” To help you reflect on your most important achievements, try answering this question. If you were to be honored for one thing in your life, what would it be? Another way of looking at achievements is to look at what you hope your obituary will one day say about you.
One of my favorite quotes about hope is by American writer Barbara Kingsolver. “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope.”
Exercise: Find a blank page in your ethical will notebook and at the top write, “Hopes.” What is it that you hope for? How have you lived inside your hope? What do you hope for your loved ones?
Some books you might find helpful:
Next week the conclusion of our Ethical Will series, Part Seven ~ Putting It All Together
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