Why You Should Write Your Own Eulogy
(Below are excerpts from my book Design Your Future: 3 Simple Steps to Stop Drifting and Take Command of Your Life )
Last week I was running a two-day workshop on optimizing personal energy when I gave the homework assignment:
“Tonight, you’ll be writing your own eulogy.”
Whenever I present the “you’re going to be writing your own eulogy” assignment to my clients, I usually get a response ranging from disbelief to discomfort to downright resistance.
This makes me happy.
Discomfort and resistance mean we’re on the fast track to growth.
Something happens when you are forced to confront the reality of your own death.
This truth forces you to evaluate the setup of your life today, and whether it supports the person you want to be when you leave this planet.
It also creates a clarity and necessary urgency to perform the actions now and into the immediate future that will shape your legacy.
Said another way, clarity regarding The End drives clarity Now.
7 Guidelines for Writing Your Own Eulogy
Your future eulogy is not constrained by current realities. Adopting this mindset comes before anything else, as it influences every other part of the process. This is your chance to create the boldest version of you. If 95% of what you’ve written could be your eulogy TODAY, then you haven’t gone big enough.
Who do you want to be? You have years, decades left to live. You can create and live into any version of yourself that you choose. Envision who you want to be, and start creating.
Adopt the belief that your best days are yet to come. Whether your best days being ahead is “true” or not is irrelevant. The belief in and of itself inspires your actions every single day. Would you rather be the guy operating from the “has been” or the “budding superstar” mindset? If you were to truly believe your best days are ahead of you, what would they consist of? Who would you be? And how would that effect the most important people in your life and the legacy you leave behind?
“Isn’t it a wonderful thought, to know that our best days are yet to come?”
4. Identify how long you want to live. Notice I didn’t say “how long do you think you’ll live?” The distinction is critically important. People can get caught up in family history, genetic predispositions and actuarial probabilities. But if you’re following step #1, you can set those “rational” considerations aside. How long do you really want to live?
My eulogy has me living until 120. Think I’m crazy? Then read this:
100 Year Old Runs, and Completes, Marathon (he does it again at age 101)
In 2011, Faujah Singh became the first person in the history of the world to complete a marathon, finishing the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8 hours, 11 minutes and 6 seconds. He did it again at the age of 101, finishing the London Marathon in 7 hours and 49 minutes. He carried the torch at the 2012 London Olympics. He didn’t even take up running until the age of 81, after his wife had passed. And he wasn’t able to walk until the age of 5 because of a birth defect.
5. Who did you impact? What impact did you have on family, friends, coworkers and the many communities you are a part of?
6. What would bring a tear to your eye? If you were to witness someone reading your eulogy, what is something they could say about you that’s so touching that it would bring a tear to your eye?
7. What legacy are you leaving behind? Not only what did you accomplish in your time on this planet, what lives on?
Final Note of Guidance:
In my experience, more times than not people will say “work didn’t show up anywhere in my eulogy.” That’s when the questions about “should I quit my career,” begin.
Not so fast.
Work absolutely contributes to a sense of purpose and enables your ability to impact the most important areas of your life, when consciously designed that way.
The issue is, up until this point, work has most likely been commanding your ship, versus using work to help navigate you to your desired destination.
Some questions to ask yourself:
What are 10 ways that work has already contributed to my eulogy virtues?
What are 10 more ways that work could contribute to my eulogy virtues, if I actively made changes in alignment with ultimate destination?
Where have I relinquished my Ultimate Authority…and how can I reclaim it?