Life Changing Move to Ecuador…. No Regrets

| May 24, 2012 | 10 Replies

A while back a friend sent me this article. She knew I was a bit restless and could tell I wasn’t at the top of my game. (Thanks Marcie)

Some of you may have seen this.  It has gotten a lot of press. But read it again. It’s pretty good. I know it helped me put things in perspective. Pretty sure it was instrumental in my current goal of moving to Ecuador….

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”



by Bonnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

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

This was the most common regret of all. 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. 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.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

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

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.


Have a great weekend everyone. Let yourself be happy. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. Loose a resentment by talking about what is bothering you. Take a day off and just spend it with the people you love. And finally, pick a dream and go for it. Start today. Don’t wait until its to late.

A life with no regrets… sounds like the perfect goal to me.


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  1. CheryLynn says:

    WOW! What beautiful words of wisdom. Funny how those of us who already practice the things listed above will be called ‘crazy’ by those who will someday regret not doing those things themselves.
    Please remember though, that ‘friends’ and ‘family’ who constantly tell you that you can’t, will turn you into a person who regrets. There’s a time when even those close to you need to be put behind you. New friends await at every turn of the exciting road ahead.

    • Nancy says:

      Right, huh? People think I am crazy when I talk about moving to Ecuador. I sometimes question myself. But I know one thing. I am tired of living the life everyone else wants me to. And thank God, I found that out before it was too late.

      • Ecuador George says:

        Nancy… just keep working towards your goal and make sure you stay on top of what is required to make such a big move…. There are a lot of expenses right up front when you make this move. I would have a slush fund to draw from for those unexpected things….

        • Glenda Grant says:

          Hello, I am also a Nurse who has worked with the mentally ill for 25 years. I am so thankful for the ability to think and function fairly well in the world. 3 years ago I went on a travel, working in Hawaii and living the other months in France. I came back to Atlanta and have wanted the other life so much but felt obligated to work on and be the same as everyone else.
          Recently I have come to realize that I do not want to put off Life..afterall I am 62. I booked a flight, found an apartment that will accept my little pug, sent my household to auction,got together papers and more papers for the Embassy, packed one bag so far and will be moving to Cuenca in two weeks. I have been having huge doubts..maybe “they” are right about me being crazy. Finding this today and reading these words I know are so true plus finding another great blog of a single older female you recommended was just what I needed. Thanks.

          • Ecuador George says:

            Good for you Glenda. You are a champion of your own destiny… There are a lot of people making this move and some of them are on this and many other blogs. Reach out for help and I believe you will be answered with many helping hands. Good luck and please let us know how you are once you get settled… George

  2. David Salahi says:

    Wow, what a powerful piece by Bonnie Ware! Thanks for sharing it.

    Having been laid off recently I’m rethinking my career choices and a recurring theme that I keep hearing everywhere I turn is Bonnie’s first point: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the
    life others expected of me.” I’m going to have to hold that thought in my mind for a while.

    • Ecuador George says:

      David, I loved that article too. Have you figured out what your dream is yet, what you would really like to do?

      I think people sharing their dreams would make very interesting reading and might get others to share theirs…

      I have a very simple dream… I no longer want a life that is driven by my ego and selfish motives. I want more experiences and less things. And these resentments I have been carrying around for years, I want them gone… Pretty simple stuff but many hurdles to get over… I am finding this goal to be very challenging and also very rewarding as I work to accomplish it. That old saying about its the journey and not necessarily the destination would fit in here very nicely…. George

  3. Tori says:

    Hello George!
    I love your blog, such helpful information! Are you currently in Ecuador now…my husband and I are planning a trip and would love the opportunity to meet you! Sounds like we have a lot in common.
    We will be in Cuenca in late June…please let me know!
    Thank you for providing such a resource for those interested in Ecuador!!:))

    • Ecuador George says:

      Hello Tori,
      Thank for the nice complement… not in Ecuador yet. We will travel again for two weeks in August of this year and then if all goes right we will be there for good in 2013… Have a wonderful trip. George

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