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Don’t Work So Hard (You’ll Regret It)

“Speed is a source of stimulation and fleeting pleasure. Slowing down is a route to depth, more enduring satisfaction, and to excellence.” – Tony Schwartz

Today’s message comes via Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who worked for many years in palliative care. Her patients were those who had gone home to die, and she spent the last three to 12 weeks of their lives with them.

Obviously your perspective changes a bit when you reach that stage of life, and many of Bronnie’s patients shared their epiphanies with her.

As they opened up to her, she asked if they had any regrets, or if there was anything they would have done differently.

She noticed that five common themes emerged in their answers, and she wrote about them in her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Here’s the one that grabbed my attention:

“I wish I didn’t work so hard.”

Bronnie said that this came from “every male patient that I nursed.” Every male. That’s serious.

(Some women expressed this, too, but she points out that since most of her patients were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been the “breadwinners” in their household and thus would have a different perspective from our current generation.)

The men said they “deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

Do you ever feel like you’re spending your life on a treadmill?

While none of us are guaranteed another moment, we hope to have several years of life ahead of us.

However long we do have, let us learn from those who have gone before us: Don’t work so hard.

Whatever prestige it brings, however much money it brings — and there’s no guarantee that working “so hard” will bring either — it doesn’t compensate for the time you miss with your loved ones, or the time lost that you could have spent doing more things you truly love.

Does this mean we should all pack up and head for the beach? No. (But if you can and if you want to, go for it!)

It’s just a reminder that life is about much more than just getting things done.

You would find an extra hour this week if an important project required it, couldn’t you?

So how about this week, you find an extra hour for yourself? And how about an an extra hour for your loved ones?

If that’s too much, then start with just 15 minutes.

Don’t work so hard!