I am going to die one day, and my body will become a star, a planet, a moon, a frog, and a steamy plate of waffle fries.
You will die as well.
We will both have our eulogies read.
The difference between you and I, however is that I wrote my own. =)
I learned this from Stephen Covey in his sensational book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People1. I never finished the book, because I got what I needed out of it just by reading this very important piece.
You need to take charge of your life. Your dreams matter, and you can make them a reality, but they will never be if you do not take action.
Covey’s exercise blew me away, because it SHOWED ME how I would die.
When you start with the end in mind, something absolutely amazing happens.
Most people lay on their death beds experiencing a deep regret. They feel that they could have done so much more, and many wish that they could go back and relive wasted moments.
These are the people who took life for granted For more information, look at my article Tombstones and Heartbeats.
If you don’t want to be in that group of people, I suggest you write your eulogy.
When you write your eulogy, you get to EXPERIENCE how your life was. You get to EXPERIENCE how you were to other people. When you start with the end in mind, you realize that you don’t NEED to waste precious moment on silly dreams that have no fire your soul.
Look, I am a HUGE dreamer. I love dreams. I dream all day, and I dance all night.
But, I also know that if I go after too many goals, I will achieve nothing.
When you start with the end in mind, when you are staring at your own Funeral bed, life takes on a different kind of logic. Covey’s exercises asks that you put your funeral 5 years into the future.
If you knew you had only five years left to live, WHAT would you do? Sure, you may panic and think, “oh, boy, i have to do EVERYTHING! I don’t have much time!”
But, that’s nonsense. That’s focusing on the moment as opposed to focusing on the end. Like I said in Tombstones and Heartbeats, when you take death out of your mind and focus on the abundance of time you have, it makes you lazy.
Instead, with Covey’s exercise, you would be reverse engineering. You would start from your funeral and work backwards.
- Pick a date five years into the future to be your funeral.
- Forget about your religion or life’s views for this exercise and just realize that there WILL be a eulogy read at your funeral.
- Write as if you are already dead, and every single thing on that sheet of paper is something you have accomplished.
- How did other people perceive you?
- What did you accomplish?
- What did you leave behind?
- How was your relationship with your family?
- How many friends did you have?
- How was your romance life? Forget about fire and brimstone and damnation to hell. Love is of absolute importance. Forget sin. I believe it is a greater sin to not have touched someone’s heart with your heart in a way nobody else could have touched. Did you die alone, or did you die with love in your heart?
- How were your finances?
- What physique did you have?
- How many languages were you able to speak?
- How many books did you read?
- How many risks did you take? Were you able to STAND UP to the people who bring you down and tell them that you will not listen to their lies anymore? And, when you thrust them aside, did you wake up and start to dream?
- Did you realize your life’s purpose?
- Did you have your first sexual experience?
- Did you buy your first luxury car? (Five years is plenty of time to get rich)
- Did you buy a house?
The list goes on. Write down only what is important to you.
When you start from the ending, you realize that there are lots of things that do not matter to you, and you focus on only what is important.
You can have, be, or do anything you want, but you must build bridges to that destination; furthermore, you must KNOW WHAT THE DESTINATION LOOKS LIKE in order to build bridges to it!
This is why it is so important to start with the end in mind.
I found covey’s idea lovely, but I couldn’t help but enhance it.
I learned from James Arthur Ray a very powerful concept that he came up with in his book Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want2. The concept is known as Harmonic Wealth, and what it does it focuses on, what he believes to be, the five most important areas of our lives:
Now, I believe there are actually a few more very important pillars, but I will discuss them some other day. I do not want to make this article longer than it needs to be. In my next blog post, you will see a sample of my own eulogy, and maybe you will be able to connect the dots as to what I left out from this twist. Let’s just keep things simple for now, shall we?
When writing our your eulogy, focus on those five areas of your life.
You have attained every single goal on that list.
Don’t worry about the how.
This exercise is a decree, not a “how to” manual.
In essence, you are learning to dream once again.
Now, don’t worry about writing TOO much. You’re a dreamer! Feel free to dream. That’s what life is all about. Take the exercise seriously, and write from the heart. Write down what you accomplished, and don’t worry about the details. Have fun with this.
Those five areas will give you A LOT to write about.
To help you out, I’ve prepared a document.
Download it to your computer, and then to print it out!
I’d MUCH rather you WRITE your responses down, so please do so. If you do no have a printer, then you may simply type your responses, but it just won’t have the same effect. Writing down your answers, as opposed to typing them, will make this exercise much more effective because you can really FEEL your emotions when you are ripping a pen across paper.
In order to help make the process easier, I’ve made two forms for you.
If you would rather fill out the form digitally, then go here: The Eulogy Exercise- Digital Form
When you click this link, fill out all of the boxes. They may appear as blue at first, but this will change once you start typing. Your font will be huge at first, but that will change as you enter more words into the text box. Once you are done filling out the form, press Save, and save the form to your desktop.
If you would rather write your responses, which is much more preferred, go here: The Eulogy Exercise- Printable Version
Go to the link, print it out, and put the papers somewhere you feel they will be safe from harm. If you want to save this document to your computer, press the Save button, and then save it to whatever location you desire.
Feel free to share this information with friends!
In any case, make sure you constantly review the eulogy, because it will keep you in check.
Now, it’s OKAY if your goals change over time. You can always make changes later. It’s just important that you start now.
Now, I went about overboard with my own eulogy.
I added the few extra elements that I left out over here, but, I left them out because they were really important to me, and I don’t think others would find them as attractive.
Wait for my next blog post. I think I might add my eulogy so that you could see an example.
Realize that you, as well, do not have to stick to just these five things. You can add more to your outline if need be. Have fun.
Rest in peace.
1. Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. New York: Free, 2004. Print.
2. Ray, James A., and Linda Sivertsen. Harmonic Wealth: the Secret of Attracting the Life You Want. New York: Hyperion, 2008. Print.