Every year between Christmas and New Years, I stop and think about what I want to accomplish in the New Year. I ponder what I think is possible then scribble down what this fresh start will look like. I even jot down what steps I can take right now to make it happen.

Like many entrepreneurs, most of my goals typically anchor around money. However, this year, I am going about it much differently…I’m letting the dead decide what the year should look like. And since no better teachers exist, here are the top 5 regrets of the dead according to Bonnie Ware and my interpretation of what they teach us.

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

In unpacking this, I came to the conclusion that this comes down to excuses. We make excuses on why we can or can’t do something, “not enough money” or “that’s not reasonable” or “how this will look to others”. These are all expectations keeping us from living a life true to ourselves. To live a life true to our self, we must be unreasonable with whatever it is that we want…no… NEED.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

I work really long hours. I’ll work a full work day, then work again typically at night after the kids are down. The distraction of work is constantly pinging my phone all day, every day. Any idle moments usually have me reverting back to work. For many of us, we wear our “work badge” as if it’s honorable. Yes, we need to provide. But if you’re working that hard, it’s likely you’re swimming upstream. Make a pivot or hire someone to help with the workload!

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

Admittedly, I’m rarely honest with my feelings. This has much to do with the first regret in this article. “What others think of me” is my interpretation of this regret. To be insincere about how someone or something makes you feel creates conflict. That voice inside our head… the weird, strange but honest voice is often buried deep. Go ahead, let go and let your freak flag fly. You’ll create peace within.

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

This all comes back to priorities. I know I need to get rid of something to make space for friends old and new. Friends are the family I actually get to choose and I feel very blessed in this department. Yeah, there are folks I wish I saw more regularly, but overall, I’ve got some damn good friends and I love them.

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

And this is the “ah ha” moment. This is what we write out our New Year’s goals for, right?

For most of us, our not so public list looks something like this:

I’ll be happy when…(I close the deal, make more money, my spouse does “X” for me)
I’ll be happy if… (I get to travel, I lose 15 pounds, see a unicorn, play bongos on Santa’s tummy-tum)

No conditional goals will ever offer lasting happiness. The key word with this regret is “LET”. Release conditions of happiness and just be… happier.

No dying man or woman ever says, “I wish I made more money”. Yet that’s exactly what many entrepreneur’s New Year’s goals look like. In fulfilling real meaningful goals, the money always follows.

This year, consider a different approach and take some perspective from the dead. They have a lifetime of guidance to offer.