Bronnie Ware is a hospice nurse from Australia. Her work involves caring for patients who are terminally ill and may pass away within 12 weeks. A few years back, she started recording the dying epiphanies of her patients. She asked her patients if they had any regrets or if they would have done anything differently. And she found a few common themes recurring again and again in all the answers she received.
The number one regret people have is, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Who knows better the price we pay when we succumb to the pressures of life than the generation X.
Remember us, the generation born between 1960 and 1980 (roughly), known as the sandwich-generation. We are cracking under the pressures of raising the millennials (the most demanding generation so far) and parenting the parents (the baby boomers who are living longer and longer)..
Have we missed the opportunity to live our lives forever?
We were the generation raised to change the world. We were to become the leaders, the inventors, the entrepreneurs. Instead, we were bypassed by Generation Y and the Millennials.
At work, our own children became our bosses while we stayed in the 9-5 jobs to keep the steady income flowing. At home, our parents took over our lives while we skipped holidays and cut our social circles to provide care for them.
We lost touch with our dreams. We forgot what we wanted. Life became a drudgery.
Now the first wave of us is reaching the retirement age.
I am one of those. Retirement brings its own challenges. It is supposed to be the time of leisure and fun. But to the on-the-go-all-the-time-Generation-Xer, retirement could be a state of purposelessness. No one needs you. Parents are gone, and children have left. One could go back to work but work becomes suddenly unsatisfying.
But we are still in good health. We need something worthwhile to bring purpose to our lives. We need to get in touch with our dreams.
Retirement is an opportunity to fulfill those forgotten dreams.
We finally have the time and opportunity. Thanks to advancements in medicine and awareness of health, we are going to live at least thirty to fourty years in retirement. That is a hell of a long time to do nothing.
Rather it is a time to do make a real difference. Never before in our lives, were we in a position to do so. You have two to three decades of life experiences to draw from. We don’t have any financial pressure, at least not like when we had big mortgages, school fees and age-care bills.
We have the confidence, enthusiasm and ‘I-don’t-care-what-people-think’ attitude. And we have an amazing network of people around us, who have a different set of skills than us, to help us. And guess what, they are in the same age group as us which means they now have fewer responsibilities and more time to give us a hand if we need it.
Chances are they are also looking for an opportunity to fulfill their potential.
Fellow Generation Xer! your time has come.
Let’s not waste it walking the poodle and weeding the garden. Let’s not use this time to babysit grandchildren.
It is your time. Use it to become the person you always wanted to become. Write that book. Enroll in Artificial Intelligence courses. Invent the next generation of solar engines. Become the entrepreneur you always wanted to become.
Don’t let the age limit your choices. Your choices will help you live a longer and more satisfying life. Don’t let the lack of energy to become your excuse. Your purpose will generate more energy than you need.
Live your life in a way that when you are on your deathbed you don’t have the regret that “I wish I’d had the courage to live my life rather than the life others expected of me.”