Using the end to motivate the now

mother and child at graveyardAs a child I always approached mazes from the finish line.  Something about working my way backwards made it a lot easier to see the areas that were dead ends or detours.  The same clarity that working through a maze backwards can bring also can be applied to the maze of life.  At the end of everyone’s life is a period and trying to see life from that standpoint can shed light on what we want our lives to represent as we go through the daily struggle of getting things done.

When we are running through life we often think about things from what we should plan to do, always keeping our eyes on the daily to do list of what should be accomplished.  In this never ending list of things to do some of the larger picture can get lost.  By looking at things from the perspective of what happens when there is no more tomorrows we can refocus on the things we want to do today.

What would you want on your epitaph?

For some looking at the end is a scary thing.  Realizing that we all must die one day is not the most enjoyable subject but the focus on the end can give real meaning to everything that is between.  The epitaph is the memories that others would share when reflecting on your life and can demonstrate a life well lived or a life where the priorities were all out of whack.  It helps relate back to the fact that people, and your impact on them, drive how you are remembered perhaps more than any other thing.

What would others say about you tomorrow if they attended your funeral?   

Knowing what you want is only the first step.  The tricky thing about an epitaph is that usually you don’t write it. It becomes a collection of memories and feelings you’ve left on others.  Starting from how you want to be remembered and moving to what you believe others would say gives insight on areas where you bridge the gap.  If you want to be remembered as a family man, but all who know you see you as a strong business person you have to question “why do they say that” and if you would be okay if this impression is their lasting memory of you.

How have you worked towards achieving some of the most import things for you personally?  

Working backwards gives an important reminder that there is a mystery end date at the end of our stories.  By not working with the assumption that there will be a tomorrow to complete the priorities on our list you remember that something that seem super important are really not what matters in the bigger scheme of things.

How have you balanced work and other demands with other priorities you would have if you faced your own demise?  

At the end of the day a life well lived is usually one that balances priorities such as family and love and adventure with the things and support and provide the possibility for these things to happen.  It is easy to get caught up with the providing for the things without really enjoying and developing the reasons for it all.  By prioritizing the things that really matter we are reminded to make time for the things that in the end would matter the most.

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