We live in an age of acronyms. Acronyms are words formed by using the first letter of several words. For instance, ASAP (as soon as possible), KISS (keep it simple stupid), RAM (random access memory), MADD (mothers against drunk drivers), and NASA (National Aeronautic & Space Administration). Even though we already have a long list of acronyms that we must remember, I would like to add one more to that ever-increasing list. My acronym is KASLOR.

Before I tell you what KASLOR means, I would like to sensitize you to the need of incorporating KASLOR into your life by having you take a short test. Jot down all the things that you would regret having not done during your life if you were to die today. For example, your list of regrets might include not hugging your husband or child this morning. You may also regret not resolving a conflict with your mother. You might be remorseful about not taking better care of your health by quitting smoking or not exercising. You might kick yourself for not seeing Europe or skydiving.

My list of regrets would include not taking education more seriously when I was in college, not learning to play the bagpipes, not saving enough to afford my dream home by a lake with cottages for all my kids, not being sure that my loved ones clearly knew how much I loved them-and my list goes on.

Death is a reality. The time and circumstances of our deaths are yet to be determined. However, the one thing that is known is that we will all die. While death is both regrettable and unavoidable, we need not compound it by deploring that we left life without doing all that we truly wanted to do. Here are some suggestions that will assure you a full life so that when you do die, you won't have a lot of regrets.

  1. Divide your list into two categories: those that will take time to obtain and those that will merely take your sensitivity to obtain. For example, the list that will require time might include things like saving for retirement, seeing Europe, finishing your education, or getting into shape. The sensitivity list might include things like telling your children how much you loved them, kissing your spouse, helping your elderly neighbor with her lawn, or thanking your co-workers for their support.
  2. Commit to paper your schedule for obtaining both of sets of goals. If one of your goals is to learn how to paint landscapes, develop an achievement timeline to get there. You may decide to take classes for six months from a local artist. Jot down times and dates that will act as markers for you on your way to fulfilling your long-held dream. If your list contains the goal completing your education, write down on your schedule all the things necessary to reach it. As for the list that won't take time but will take sensitivity, commit your desires to paper-even though these aren't time consuming, they will take thought. That list might contain telling your family members about your love for them. It is vital that you get a schedule down in black and white regardless of how long it will take to accomplish the items.
  3. Execute the plan. Once you get your goals on paper, start at once to achieve them. Having them recorded on paper will assist you in remaining focused on your goal.
  4. Finally, turn to the obituary section of this paper. Pick out a couple of names at random. Read the article about them and get a sense of who they were. Now, ask yourself whether they knew when they would die. More importantly, think about how long their regret list was when they died.

My addition to the seemingly endless list of acronyms is KASLOR, which means, "Keep a short list of regrets." If you follow these suggestions and implement the principle of KASLOR in your life, when you do die, you will do so with a short list of regrets about the time you spent in this wonderful world, and you will have accomplished much. More importantly, your loved ones will know about your feelings for them, and you will have lived a life well spent.

This article appeared in the Dixon Telegraph on 9/23/99.