Author Robert Fulghum sits on his grave site every year. Author Austin Kleon reads the obituaries regularly. Morrie, from Tuesdays with Morrie, and Randy Pausch, from The Last Lecture, looked death in the face. Nothing puts things in perspective like a brush with death.
The truth is, no one gets out alive. We only have a limited amount of days to do stuff that matters. And we aren’t told when the deadline is. There’s no circled date on the calendar.
We’ve all heard stories of end-of-life regrets. No one does everything they wanted to do. Hindsight is 20/20.
But if that’s true, and everyone gets to the end of life with regrets, why don’t we start talking to that older version of ourselves? The one laying on her death bed and thinking back on her life. Wondering if she really made a difference.
Ask your dying self, What do I wish I had done? What didn’t I do because I let fear stand in my way? How could I have moved the needle if I had just tried?
I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. – Jack London
Imagine the happiest, most fulfilled and humble version of your 90 year-old self. What were the steps that she took to get to that place of fulfillment?
What was she doing at 80? At 70? In her 60’s. What about her 50’s? What was her focus in her 40’s? Start living your life backwards by talking to those older versions of you.
You want to live a life that matters. And not just a life that works for you, but a life that works for the people around you. You want to make a difference. Move the needle. Do stuff that matters.
You’re a giving and loving human being, teeming with talent and desire and strength.
Don’t forget it. Don’t hide it. Don’t delay it so long that you forget to pick it back up again and get to the end of life with regrets.
Talk to your 90 year-old self. What is she telling you to go do?
GO DO IT!