Have You Written Your Eulogy?

I believe 2020 deserves a moment of a standing ovation for all that it did to the world. We all got affected by one way or another, some of us more than others, but it got to us all and made the whole world come to a standstill.  Looking back at what happened, I am sure many of us can see some bright side to it all and learned to appreciate the little things in our lives, and the fact that we came out of this year alive, healthy and well, was an achievement by itself.  As Diana (aka Wonder Woman) said in the latest blockbuster “WW84”, “Sometimes you can’t see what you are learning until you come out the other side.” and that is often the case, as we get to be too worked out into what is going on into our lives that we only see what really happened once the dust settles, and we start to see the outcome. I am certain that many of us have a different look at 2020 now vs what we had back in April when things were at their peak.

With all the craziness and uncertainties of 2020, and without underplaying the negative impact on many lives and businesses all over the world, it did give us a wakeup call and taught us how to i) appreciate what we already have, ii) be grateful to the little things that we usually take for granted & iii) to always take time to cross-check our priorities vs. our realities.  In moments of standstill, like many of the moments we had in 2020, it is a great opportunity to take a step back and rewrite what we want out of our own lives and where do we envision ourselves in the future. Stephen Covey, the author of “7 habits of highly effective people”, talks about seven habits that we should learn to be able to succeed in life and accomplish what we desire. The second habit was Work with the End in Mind, where it talks about having a vision and setting goals that you align all your energy towards it so that you know where you are going.  That is easier said than done of course, but it is ok to start with short term goals, for the year for example, and then go farther by having five- or ten-year goals or even a life vision, and use thin-slicing methodology to break your plans into smaller and more tangible ones for a shorter period. The point is to have an idea or a vision of where you are going, or as Stephen Covey puts it, “Before you start climbing the ladder of success, make sure it’s leaning against the right building.”

One of the ideas in the book on how to envision our future selves and have a sense of direction, vision, and goals, is to think of your own eulogy. As many of us know, in Western cultures, when someone dies, their loved ones stand in front of the podium during the funeral and give a few words about the deceased, and how he/she was as a spouse, parent, friend, colleague, and so on. What your loved one would say about you at that moment is not something you can control, as you will be already dead, well not really, not if you write your eulogy from now. Imagine asking yourself what you want out of life, what do you want your loved ones to say about you when you are dead, and to be more specific, take the people closest to you (example below) and imagine them reading your eulogy, describing you as a:-

  • Parent
  • Son/daughter
  • Sibling
  • Co-worker
  • Friend

Just write down what you want each category to say about you when you are dead (i.e., he was a giving loving father, she was a great wife, he was the best boss, the best caring friend, etc) and be specific in your descriptions. If you can write how you want those people to see you, you have technically written how your life should be for the rest of your life, you have written your playbook or manual. Hence, just go live that life that you wrote and make your eulogy a living reality. When you write each category of how you want to be seen, you will start to write the HOW for each, for example, if you say you want to be a great loving caring parent, then you need to write down how will you accomplish that, like what should you do with your kids for them to see you like a loving caring parent, and so on for the other categories. And remember, the best formula for success is to combine ambition for a great future with content and gratefulness for the present.

Finally don’t get stuck on new year’s resolutions and such time-oriented goals, every day is a good enough day to start something new and work towards new goals. January 1st of any year is just another day. So, go ahead, start writing your eulogy.  

Happy New year and I wish you all a year filled with self-content and peace of mind.

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