Deathbed Regrets: Most Say They Leave Their Dreams Behind, Wish They Worked Less

Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic Jews bury the coffin of Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch—the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement—and Director of the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries during his funeral at Montefiore Cemetery, on Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in the Queens borough of New York. Kotlarsky passed away on Tuesday. He would have been 75 in four days. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

At the end of their lives, people tend to reflect on things they wish they’d done differently.

Many wish they’d expressed more love and forgiveness, and use their last words to show their appreciation for the people in their lives, oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee recently said during a commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania.

Other people regret not doing enough for themselves, according to Bronnie Ware, author of the 2011 book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” and a former palliative care worker. Ware spent eight years administering aid for people battling serious illnesses, many of which turned fatal.

“When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled,′ Ware wrote in a blog post. “Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”

You might choose a college major, career path or job because your parents want you to. Maybe you’ve sacrificed your dreams of traveling the world to stay close to your loved ones. Save yourself a lifetime of remorse by putting your interests and happiness first when making decisions, Ware advised.

As for the regret of working too hard, 78% of U.S. workers are currently leaving vacation time on the table and overextending themselves to get ahead professionally, according to a recent Harris Poll of 1,170 American workers.

See the list on CNBC here