No One Has A Crystal Ball
But You Can Plan Like You Do!
O, that a man might know The end of the day's business ere it come! -Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
Imagine for a moment that you knew, without question, the exact date of your death. Imagine it is far off in the future (as it likely is). Let's say you live to 90. What would you do with that information?
Would you calculate the years from now until then? Would you think about what you want to do in the time that you have left? Would you become more strategic and purposeful with your time?
While I am not a big fan of fortune tellers, horoscopes, hypnosis, or other attempts at glimpses into the future, I do think that if we knew our death date most of us would change the way we live...for the better. I suspect the looming end date would be a sobering reminder to live the best life possible, appreciate the time remaining and ponder more deeply the question of how to live a "good" life. It might encourage more risk taking too. (I might not be so afraid of scuba diving if I knew I'd survive the experience!) Wouldn't we become more intentional about our time and plan more effectively to ensure a life of purpose and meaning. As a result, we'd have fuller and happier lives. Right?
We know there is an end date to this crazy ride - we are not immortal after all. So, pick one (again, think distant future here) and try it on. You will need to suspend disbelief and convince yourself to adopt your imagined date. Go ahead- pick a date. How old will you be? How much time is left?
Now hold that information for a while. What comes to mind? What do you feel is the most important way to spend that time? If you have children, I am sure that is a primary devotion (as it should be), but try to think beyond that to your dreams and aspirations. Exploring those and designing an interesting, happy life serves those you love also! Our children learn how to live by watching how we live.
Create a timeline. I am serious - take out a piece of paper and write this down! Begin with today's date on the left side of the paper, on the right side place your death date. Draw a long line between the two. That is your life on paper. Create equal increments from one to the other (5 years works well). Now, assuming you expect to die in old age, decide how many years in the tail end might be somewhat uneventful (in terms of bungee jumping, tent camping, etc.). I blocked off 20 years from age 70 - 90 for calm, easy living.
Along the side, create a list of what you want to do before you reach that grace period. Yeah, it's kinda the bucket list thing, only this time you are not just dreaming about it, you are planning it.
There are two approaches to "bucketlisting", I used a combination of both. One is to list one-time activities that you want to partake in (visit the Pyramids, Meet the Dali Lama, etc.) the other, is long-term accomplishments (Own a home in Italy). The longer term goal is actually easier to plan for on a timeline, as it will naturally lead to smaller steps to accomplish and these can be planned out.
For example, if you are planning the long-term goal to become a chef in a Paris restaurant you will likely need to get a culinary degree, learn French, secure living accommodations and obtain employment in Paris. These small steps may require completion in a particular order- great for your life time line.
The big things in our lives can quickly sound insurmountable when we list out the steps. Don't be discouraged! I like to remind myself of this simple phrase, "Way leads onto way." Meaning that once you get the ball rolling, it powers itself along. The hardest part is getting started (inertia). Once you start, you've made a commitment. Writing it down is your spark plug, and every engine needs a spark to get going!
Consider the story of John Gooddard (see our link: Inspiring People). At 15 years old he sat down and wrote out exactly what he wanted to accomplish with his life. He went on to accomplish his list of over 120 things. People who write it down... do it. So, get busy! The clock is ticking on the time you have left. Your life is your creation. What will yours look like?
Post a comment! What is your death date? What will you do with your life?