Just after Christmas I did my regular gig on TBS eFM’s 1013 Main Street radio program. In case you don’t know, the name of the segment I do is called “Learn from the Greats with Carl Kwan.”
Since it was almost the end of the year, I knew that many people make New Year’s resolutions. Not me, by the way. And I also knew that most people don’t keep their resolutions. So I wanted to talk about regret because if you don’t keep your resolutions, there may experience some serious regret later in life.

“Who wants to live like that?” I thought.

I had heard about a nurse who worked with terminally ill patients. She learned from her patients the five things we regret the most just before we die. I figured it’d make a great topic for the radio program.

Anyway, below is the recording from the show and below that are the notes I prepared. Have a listen and hopefully at least one of the regrets hits home for you and you decide to make a change for the better. You deserve it.

Length 20:49

Carl Kwan talks about Bronnie Ware on 1013 Main Street


  • After Christmas… Time for New Year’s Resolutions
  • Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?
  • Common ones?
    • 1. Get fit, exercise, lose weight
    • 2. Quit smoking
    • 3. Work/life balance
    • 4. Learn something new
    • 5. Drink less
  • Who is Bronnie Ware?
    • Palliative care nurse; helps seriously ill people relieve pain or stress…usually, before they die
    • Patients mentioned their regrets in life
    • Bronnie compiled a list of the top 5 regrets of the dying
  • Share them, but instead of talking about regrets, give some tips for what we can do now to live a fulfilling life

Regret #1

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

  • People tend to wait too long before doing something they’ve dreamed of doing; “I’ll do it when I retire”
  • Too old to do it, don’t know what life will bring by that time.
  • Common in Korean and other Asian societies due to cultural influences

Regret Smasher #1

Realize you’re the only one who knows what’s best for you

  • Remember that no matter what you do, the people you’re doing it for will never think it’s enough.
  • You’ll go nuts trying to please them
  • You’re the only one who knows what’s best for you; maybe not now, but we always instinctively know what’s best for us

What to do? Baby Steps

  • “How would your life be different if you could do what you want?”
  • Want to travel to Paris?
  • Start with putting up pictures of Paris; the places you’ll visit, where you’ll stay, what you’ll eat.
  • Do little things you enjoy; start collecting little victories in being courageous; your confidence to change will grow

Regret #2

I wish I didn’t work so hard.

  • Mostly from men; Bronnie’s patients were older, but reflective of Korean society
  • Miss so much: children growing up; time doing what you want like in regret #1
  • Korean societal pressures/demands: house, education, status symbols

Regret Smasher #2

Change your mindset to one of abundance and opportunity

  • Most people work too much because they have a lack mentality or live in fear of what they won’t have or may lose
  • People feel they have no choice because their boss demands them to work
  • Need to teach people that having a job is not the only choice; in fact, it’s the worst way to make money because your worth is determined by others
  • Look at the world as full of opportunity; do not limit yourself and your choices by your thoughts
  • And look at regret smasher #1

Regret #3

I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

  • People are afraid to offend others, especially in Korea with the high-low status
  • Results can be deadly: Korean Air crash in Guam in 1997 was caused by the co-pilots not wanting to speak up
  • Korean Air made significant changes afterwards
  • Other problem: people carry anger or resentment, which begins to manifest in other parts of your life

Regret Smasher #3

Control and change your reactions

  • We cannot control what others do, but we can always control our reaction and our thoughts
  • Anger? It’s a choice and a habit… an easy reaction because it’s so impulsive.
  • Start by changing your self-talk when something happens
  • Pause and calm down before speaking
  • Words hurt…Really worth it?
  • Everything you say or think will come back to you, whether positive or negative.

Regret #4

I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

  • Spending time being “busy” we lose touch with people
  • Fortunately, Koreans are great at staying connected with old friends

Regret Smasher #4

  • Get on Facebook
  • Koreans can keep using traditional methods for staying in touch…works great.
  • But use technology to stay up-to-date and build closer relationships or rekindle old ones
  • Don’t worry about all the privacy “issues”; Facebook is a great way to stay in touch
  • Yes, some relationships are best not rekindled so go with your instincts

Regret #5

I wish that I had let myself be happier.

  • Many people stay stuck in old negative habits and ways of thinking, but happiness is a choice

Regret Smasher #5

Get your body healthy

  • A healthy, fit body gives you confidence and makes you feel good about yourself
  • Higher energy levels will help you work more efficiently
  • Mindset will be different because you will feel strong, like you can accomplish anything
  • You will have courage to try new things
  • All of which will make you happier
  • Don’t need to go to a gym or spend lots of money; look at what Ian Matthews is doing with BAFIK


  • Regret Smasher #1
    • Realize you’re the only one who knows what’s best for you
  • Regret Smasher #2
    • Change your mindset to one of abundance and opportunity
  • Regret Smasher #3
    • Control and change your reactions
  • Regret Smasher #4
    • Get on Facebook
  • Regret Smasher #5
    • Get your body healthy