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Why You Should Document Your Life

document May 15, 2020

In 2011, Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives, wrote a book titled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. (Full disclosure: I've not read this book yet.)

When's the last time you stopped long enough to think about the regrets you have?

Have you ever stopped to think about regrets...period? (You should.)

Here's the thing: days turn into weeks which turn into months which turn into years which result in a lifetime.

Regrets suck

There is nothing positive or encouraging about regrets.

But, sadly, because you don't take time to think about regrets, you're probably going to have a lot of regrets later in life.

Before I go on, let me define regret for you: "feel sad, repentant, or disappointed (over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity)."

How to say no to regrets

There's a simple way to reduce the number of regrets you may experience later in life. Note: I'm not suggesting that there is a way to eliminate regrets...just reduce them.

Three words: DOCUMENT YOUR LIFE.

Intentionally.

I use and recommend the Day One journaling app (iOS/Mac only) because I like its ability to capture text, photo, video as well as audio entries. And, whenever I add an entry, it adds my location and the weather.

But you don't have to use Day One.

Find an app you like.

Or use a notebook.

Even the Notes app on your device will work.

The point is to document your life.

Note: I'm not referring to sharing on social media as Gary Vaynerchuk talks about. You can certainly do that but that's not what I'm writing about here.

How I document my life

I use the Day One journaling app because it's so easy to document my life with.

As I live my life, I document in real-time. Doing so "later" (at the end of the day, week, etc.) is a recipe for disaster.

For example, recently my wife and I were able to return to our church after 2 months because of its closure due to Covid-19. After we parked, I snapped a picture of our church in Day One, which grabbed the location and current weather conditions. I also added a note: "So good to be back in church. Temperature taken. Provided a mask. Hands sanitized. The new normal? I pray not."

A cool feature of Day One is that each day they remind me to review "this day in history". Sort of like Facebook does...only this is for my eyes only.

But there's so much more I document:

  • My daily runs
  • How I slept
  • Books I've read
  • Meals I've eaten
  • Pictures I take throughout the day (any picture or video I take in Day One automatically saves a copy to my camera roll)

And so much more.

Avoid "the regrets"

If you're documenting your life in some way, not only do I implore you to continue doing so, but think about how you can get better at it...whatever that means for you.

For example, if you're only documenting with text entries, add photos or videos.

If you're not documenting...start! You'll be glad you did.

Yes, I asked my wife to do this

You may think I'm crazy, but should something bad ever happens to me, I'll be documenting the what, where, why, and how. And if I can't (maybe I'm unconscious), I've asked Michelle to do it for me.

Why?

Because after I've recovered, my memory of the event might be spotty or non-existent and I'll want to remember.

#NoRegrets!

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