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Nonagenarians’ advice to live a life without regret.

“Enjoy it. Learn from it. And more than anything, never take your life for granted. Don’t just seize the day. Seize the moment. Every single one.” -C. Wade

One of my favorite expression all kids use is: “I want a Do-Over.”

I hear it after beating my kids in a fierce match of ping pong, or after one of my sons beats another in an intense game of basketball, or after Grace beats her brothers in a friendly (frequently turning violent) game of Sorry.

It may sound childlike to insist on a “Do-Over,” but embracing the potential within the expression could be transformative for adults, too.  Let me explain.

Several years ago, I read a study in which a group of 95-years-old were asked one simple question: What’s your biggest regret? In other words, if you could go back in time what would you choose to “Do-Over”?

So, what sage wisdom came from the women and men who lived more than nine decades? What is the greatest regret of their lives they encourage us to learn from and apply in our lives?  Well, the three most frequently shared answers were:

  1. Take more risks. Looking back on their lives, too often they felt they had been passive, taken the road too well traveled, or remained silent when they should have spoken up. Those who have lived nine decades implore us to live courageously and daringly. No, not from a place of trying to prove our self-worth to others, but from a place of profound appreciation recognizing the miraculous gift of this life and the ability to do more with it.
  2. Reflect more often. After almost a century of living, many wondered where all the time had gone. Although their days were often long, the years felt extraordinarily short. And with each passing year the time went even faster. Their reminder to us is to soak it up. Slow down. Breathe. Journal. Pray. Reflect. Celebrate this moment. A life deprived of intentional reflection is also a life lacking real understanding of what matters most.
  3. Do more that will live on after you die. Recognizing their imminent mortality, they want us to know that what we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others lives on. The wisdom of these elders prompts us to not merely talk about living inspired, but to model it. In other words, serve, visit the neighbor, donate time, give money. Spend your life building up something far bigger than simply yourself.

Take more risks.  Reflect more often. And do more things that will live on after you die.

It’s fairly obvious advice, isn’t it? And yet, in the race through life we risk missing not only the obvious, but also the most important.

Today, use your “Do-Over” to grasp tightly to what matters most and release the things that don’t matter at all.

You may not get a second chance at this life, but in wholeheartedly heading the advice, you may not need one.

This is your day. Live Inspired.

11 replies on “Want a Do-Over?”

John,
What a great picture of you and Aunt Cady!
I recently saw your Aunt Janie M. at my Uncle’s funeral. You are such an inspiration. Thank you for being you!

What a great message that we need to be reminded of again and again. It is easy to get lost in the day to day so this reset was well needed.

I was encouraged by your mention of serving others and giving of your time in your blog. Please consider becoming a Volunteer Ombudsman for people living in long term care near you. To find out more go to theconsumervoice.org or in the state of Wisconsin please call 1-800-815-0015.
Thank you!

I’m not in my 90’s, but I totally agree with those three sentiments. Thanks for sharing. Your weekly blog is a gift to many.

I read your book in one day , unreal who could tell a story like yours and LIVE to tell it
no one Gods plan you have captured in your life . It could of went many other ways but you chose to live life . I love your podcasts as well . You will be one of my favorite speakers and inspirations to better my life . God bless your work

I loved your Grandmother Cady!!! She was fabulous!!!! She always made you feel like the most important person in the world. Lucky me I also knew her sister, Mary (and Paul) from Tippins Breakfast club. You are one lucky guy!!

I loved your Grandmother Cady!!! She was fabulous!!!! She always made you feel like the most important person in the world. Lucky me I also knew her sister, Mary (and Paul) from Tippins Breakfast club. You are one lucky guy!!

Another amazing message John. This one really hits home. I spent the weekend with my wife and her family cleaning out their parent’s house. There was an attempt to go through 60 years of memories in one weekend. It could not be done. Capturing it in the moment is much better than bottling it up and trying to take it all in at once. The message about positively affecting others, from a legacy perspective, hits home as well.

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