We all tend to think that we are immortal – that we’re going to live forever. And some of us do everything in our power to make that a reality. We ‘gloss over’ the undesirable topic of death.
But today I’m going to ask you not to. I’m going to ask you to contemplate it. In fact, look it squarely in the eye. And then write your own eulogy.
I know you think I sound crazy …. But I promise you that this will be such an invaluable exercise, you’ll be astounded and amazed at just how far this ‘far-fetched’ idea will take you.
By doing this exercise you can achieve unimaginable insight into what you want to do with your life moving forward. It will give you clarity about whether you are investing your time in the right places. Because time is precious and there’s nothing more powerful than a eulogy to bring that concept home to us.
So, facing the fact that your life will indeed one day come to an end, what’s your legacy?
You don’t have to invent the next life-changing technology. You don’t have to be a tireless charity worker. Or write a best seller. Or… the CEO of the country’s largest corporation.
Every single life on this planet is important, and every human being is powerful beyond measure whether they become world famous or not. You can have a small, meaningful life and impact way more people than someone who has a large, glossy, upscale life that has no substance.
But your impact is in the here and now – in your immediate circle of friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. Who you are, what you stand for, and whatever you do, so long as you do it with passion, gusto and integrity, which has enormous potential and power to inspire others.
What lights up your heart?
Most of us wander through life unsure of what we want to do, not even certain of who we really are, what we stand for or what we really want …. Because we never stop still long enough to think about it, let alone figure it out. We run around chasing our tails and approaching life as the wind blows – in any direction, or all directions, sometimes at breakneck speed, which in the end leaves us exhausted, and filled with regrets.
Ask yourself, when D-Day comes, if you had to live your life all over again, what would you do differently?
Every story has an ending…
It’s important not to focus on regrets, but we all have them because the benefit of hindsight is a powerful thing. The only way to deal with regrets is to understand what they have taught you.
Imagine, just for a moment that you have five years to live. What do you want to achieve? If time were not an ever-stretching concept laid out in front of you and suddenly it was finite …. What would you do? Is there anything you would change about your life?
Are you making the most of the moments? Or are you going through the motions?
Life is about making an impact…
Imagine yourself on your death bed. Do you feel at peace? Can you look back and say ‘Well, that was a life well lived?”
We all have different beliefs and different philosophies, and we all share our own bits of wisdom with our family and the world around us. Think about this, is there anything you would be willing to put it all on the line for? If so, what?
Here’s the exercise…
Write one paragraph answering the following questions: What is your basic philosophy? What do you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of your life? And why? By answering some of these questions and imagining your own death, what are some of your insights coming to mind now?
Are you saying to yourself: I wish I had invested more time with my family, I wish I didn’t take life so seriously, I wish I had more fun and not worked as hard? I wish I cared less about what everyone else thought? … I wish, I wish, I wish….
Well, it’s not too late! And perhaps now you can really see the power of this exercise.
If you take a little time – maybe 45 minutes to do this – you’ll find a new perspective. You’ll have a few ‘ah-ha’ moments too – and these will provide the key to following your bliss, to creating a life you LOVE and THRIVE in, rather than just ‘participate’ in.
Imagine you are at your own funeral…
So now you’ve imagined your death, visualise your funeral.
What are some of those things that you hope your family and friends will remember you by? Reflect back … and ask yourself: What kind of person were you? Did you raise children whom you have a great relationship with? Were you a good teacher? A reliable, trusting friend? Did you have fulfilling and loving relationships with your friends and partners?
Think about all of the roles you have played in your life, and what statement comes to mind for each role. How do you want people to feel when you are gone, and what are those things that you want people to always remember?
You can’t live forever, but you can create something that will.
Set goals and crush them…
So – did it all work out beautifully? Or is this the half-time opportunity to change your game strategy? Are you accomplishing your goals, in your personal and professional life? Do you have a good balance? Are you sacrificing one for the other? Are you doing what you love? Or… is there a big dream you’re yet to pursue?
And hey, you might as well start today because as morbid as it may seem, your time could be up at any moment! Start working backwards, reverse engineer the process and figure out what are you going to focus on today that is going to make the greatest impact if tomorrow was going to be your final day.
So now you’ve decided what you want to achieve and how you want to be remembered, set yourself a plan and break the big goals down to smaller ones. Set yourself a realistic timeframe so that you can reasonably achieve what you’re setting yourself up for. This is not a race, and you don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on yourself – that could just set you up for failure which would be totally counter-productive.
So – now you have a clear plan and some actionable goals there is nothing stopping you from taking the first step, and as you build momentum you’ll see the life that you want falling into place around you. A life of no regrets.