“Memento mori – Remember you will die”
The Stoics constantly pondered these words. They were a reminder that death’s shadow was ever-present. It didn’t matter who you were, your life could be snuffed out at any time.
But memento mori isn’t meant to alarm, at least not to the point of obsessing about all the bad things that could happen. Instead, it is supposed to create a sense of urgency. To prod you to do the things you most want to do now, instead of assuming you’ll have time later. To not be wasteful of the time you do have. By remembering death, you become more aware of the importance of living now.
Yet, how are you living? Are you hesitating, afraid to take action on the things you most want? Do you choose mediocrity over challenge and wonder why you feel unfulfilled? Are you wandering aimlessly with no sense of direction for your life? It’s not too late to ignite the power within. You can move forward with clarity, focus and purpose, you just have to decide to. Now is the time to take action on what really matters and start by asking these two questions.
1. How do you want to be remembered?
In the book Living Forward, authors Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy describe a great tool to get you focused and it literally starts with writing your eulogy. They ask you to visualise your funeral and imagine that your friends and family are there. What would they say about you now that you’re gone? What tales would they tell about you and how would those memories make them feel? Would your life have left a positive or negative impact? Be honest and write it all down.
Now consider what you’ve written. Is it how you want to be remembered? If it isn’t, then you still have a chance to influence it while you’re still alive. Let the legacy you want to leave behind help you to clarify in detail the person you want to be. Take action to make those changes a reality.
2. What would you regret not doing?
Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse from Australia took care of patients in the last weeks of their lives. In her best-selling book ‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’, she writes that the biggest regret for many of her patients was not honouring their dreams. There were so many things that they’d wanted to do but never got around to doing.
You’re luckier than they were. You still have the chance to live life on your terms. You still have a chance to make those dreams happen.
Make five wishes
In his book, ‘Five Wishes’, author Gay Hendricks asks you to imagine yourself on your deathbed. He is at your bedside and asks: “Was your life a complete success?” You get to respond “Yes,” or “No.” If you say “No,” you give the reasons why your life has not been a complete success and write them down. Those reasons become the wishes for your life. They’re immensely powerful as they define what success means to you. You now get the opportunity to turn those wishes into goals and identify the steps you need to take to make them happen.
The time is now
‘Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to throw away. Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something while you live and it is in your power.’ Marcus Aurelius.
Maybe you think you have plenty of time to make those dreams happen and perhaps you’re right. You could live for another 50 years. But what if you’re wrong? Are you ready to reach the end with a pile of regrets? You can start to change that now. If you’re not yet living a life of fulfilment and purpose a, life that you define as a success, isn’t it worth asking yourself those questions? Remember you will die, so start living today.
Five Wishes: How Answering One Simple Question Can Make Your Dreams Come True by Gay Hendricks
Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy