Bronnie Ware is a nurse who specialized in caring for patients in the last weeks of their lives. Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as identified by her:
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 thought I would start from the bottom and work up.
My biggest regret was never finding the time to study for a PhD. The obvious and best time to have done this was immediately after I had finished my first degree at Nottingham. I had no ties, no responsibilities and no reason, other than I was bored with studying, for not staying on. Instead I started working in the food industry where I wasn’t particularly happy and where the money and job satisfaction were both lousy. To put the pay at United Biscuits into perspective I got a 50% pay rise, £4,400 to £6,600, when I started working in Further Education and education has never been famous for generous salaries!
For the next 30 years I was in full-time employment, supporting a family and enjoying a wide range of hobbies – both indoor and outdoor. Every now and again I thought about doing a PhD and I even went as far as taking a second degree with the Open University “to get my brain working again”. But I never took the next step, the crucial step, of enrolling to study for my PhD.
Then retirement came along – perhaps my last genuine opportunity to revert to being a student. But it wasn’t to be. My Father died suddenly and Claire and I acquired the responsibility for my Mother. She suffered from dementia and although she was well looked after at Cherry Trees she was never far from our minds. Family geography meant that almost all the twice weekly visits were made by Claire and I and before either of us realised it another three years had gone by. By the time Mother had died and we had sorted out her financial affairs I was in my mid-50s and I realised that a PhD would only be possible by making unreasonable demands on those around me.
So I didn’t