How to Avoid the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying


I only have three months left in Australia.

It feels surreal, but it’s true. It is happening. I am leaving. I’m finding it difficult to accept this fact, and I’m in constant denial as I try to avoid the thought as best I can.

But it keeps coming back to me, and I’ve finally taken it to heart. I need to move on with my life, and make the most of what I’ve got left. It was a big relief once I accepted this fate.

It’s so easy to postpone the important stuff. We’re so naive to believe that we have time for everything. “I’ll do it later” we say, when we know “later” will never actually happen. It’s just an excuse.

We know this excuse is bullshit, but we still choose to believe it. It’s very silly, but I guess it’s a defence mechanism, and we do whatever we can do get on with our day.

Well, I’ve decided to live mindfully and make the most of the time that I have left in Australia. This means saying yes to the people and activities that excite me, but it also means saying no to people and events that I don’t really care about.

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

It boils down to regret. None of us wants to live with regret. It’s not exactly the nicest feeling to carry around. I read this interesting article in The Guardian about the top five regrets of the dying, and I do believe they’re quite telling. If you haven’t read the article, here are the top 5 regrets:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I think there’s a life lesson in all of these regrets. But I believe the best medicine against regret is action. Or to be more precise: conscious action. We can make a choice to live a life more true to ourselves and to avoid some of the most common life mistakes.

My not-so-secret tip to avoid regret

I’m currently following a fun rule that’s called 10/10/10. It goes something like this: you have a decision to make, and you’re not sure if you want to do it or not. Next time you struggle with your decision, play with this thought:

  • How will I feel 10 minutes after I’ve made this decision?
  • How will I feel 10 months after I’ve made this decision?
  • How will I feel 10 years after I’ve made this decision?

This puts your decisions into perspective. I imagine myself in Sweden, 10 months from now, looking back at my last time in Australia, thinking: Will I regret not having done this? If the answer is yes, then I hop on the bandwagon and do it straight away!

Better get it over and done with. After all, you don’t want to have any regrets on your deathbed now, do you?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Flickr photo: Chris Chabot


  1. says

    Olle, my dear, you never fail to inspire!! Love this.
    I can’t believe you’re going to leave Australia! That must indeed feel very strange after all this time… Where are you going next? Back over to this side of the world, I hope?

    • says

      Thanks Evie for those kind words!

      I can’t believe I’m leaving Australia either. It’s definitely the end of an era. It feels like yesterday when we had our first presentation about the “The Local” but it’s been almost five years!

      I will go back to Europe for a bit, so if you’re still there, let’s catch up, yes? Hope life is treating you well, my friend! Again, thanks for leaving a comment and for being the wonderful inspiration that you are!

  2. says

    I completely agree with your post, there’s nothing worse than looking back and having regrets. I’m in a similar situation to you as I only have another month left in England before heading back to Australia, so leaving with no regrets is definitely on my mind at the moment, Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Hajduken says

    Europe can’t wait to finally have a piece of Olle again! I’m pretty sure that your time in Europe will be fantastic – rekindle those friendships you’ve left behind in Europe! :)

    • says

      I’ve missed Europe too. Five years is a long time to be away. It sure will be nice to meet my European friends in person, and not just see them on Skype or at a Google Hangout 😉

  4. Brittany says

    Hi Olle, This is a friend of Lou’s. I met her last year in Sweden studying at Lund. She introduced me to your page and I just love it! I had similar feelings leaving Canada, Sweden and no again as I prepare to leave Indonesia. Great advice – find out what is important to you and give it all you’ve got! Never heard of 10/10/10 before but I like it :)

    • says

      Hi Brittany!

      Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I’m glad Lou introduced you to the site. It’s always hard to let go, but that’s the only way we can move forward to new and exiting things. What brought you to Indonesia? Make sure that you make the most of it. I picked up the 10/10/10 principle from a book called Decisive. I really like the concept too. Makes it easier to find out what’s important to you and give it all you got 😉

      Thanks for reading!

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