Are you spending your days and weeks doing what matters most to you, or are you just going through life hoping it will all just magically come together somehow?
Not knowing your purpose in life is equivalent to throwing darts at a target with your eyes closed. Or worse, facing the wrong direction. It is nearly impossible to hit the target if you don’t know where it is or what it looks like.
Stephen Covey suggests that to discover your real purpose in life, you must first “Begin with the end in mind.” To do this, use your imagination to project yourself years into the future.
Imagine walking into a funeral parlor and seeing a casket at the front of the room. You walk down slowly to the casket and look inside, only to come face to face with yourself. You are attending your funeral.
Now step back from the casket and peer around the room. As you do, you notice the seats are filled with all the important people in your life. Your family and friends have all come to pay respect to your life.
Next, you find a place to be seated and watch as the most important people in your life take turns saying beautiful things about you while expressing their love and appreciation.
Identify the key relationships in your life.
Begin by making a list of the people you want to speak at your funeral. The people you choose to speak should represent all the major areas of your life from family and friends to work and even community. There is no need for every one of them to speak, just pick one from each of the key areas of your life to represent that group. For instance, if you have more than one child, then you might just have one of them speak, having their words represent all your children.
Describe how you would like each of these speakers to remember you.
- What do you want them to say about the way you lived your life?
- What kind of spouse, friend, parent, and worker do you want them to remember you as being in their lives?
- What do you want them to remember you being passionate about in your life?
- What achievements would you like them to remember you for accomplishing during your life?
- What contributions did you make in their lives?
Create a vivid purpose statement for each of the key relationships in your life.
By completing steps one and two, you should now have a very clear vision of what is most important to you in all areas of your life. Now it is time to identify your specific purpose for each of those key areas.
Try to be as concrete as possible in describing how you wish to be remembered. Instead of saying you want to be remembered as a loving father, be more specific by explaining what a loving father looks like. How would your children know that you have loved them? Describe how you will be loving, not just that you are.
For example, instead of saying, I want my children to remember me for loving them and always being there for them. You might instead say something like, I want my children to remember that I was always showing interest in their lives by attending their school events, and by intently listening when they spoke. I want them to remember how I supported each of them when things didn’t always go their way as well as when they did. I want them to have learned how to treat others with kindness and respect from watching me interact with the people in my life.
Doing this exercise may feel a little surreal. None the less, I highly recommend doing it. Think deeply about your answers. They should reflect your deepest values.
Once you know how you want the people you care about the most to remember you, making choices on how to spend your time becomes a whole lot easier.
Your next step is to take what you have learned from the funeral exercise and turn it into a Life Contract. In my next article, How to Leave a Legacy, I will go into details on how to write your Life Contract. Until then, Live Intentionally!
Question: Leave your experience with doing the funeral exercise below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.