Death, like taxes, as they say is inevitable. Yesterday, I got to attend my step-grandmother’s funeral. She was 97 and except for the last few years lived a really good life. It’s funny how you think you really know someone all those years but end up learning things about them after they are gone that you never knew. Growing up, I learned a ton of Yiddish words from Bubbie (what I called her) but had no idea that she actually spoke fluent Yiddish. And while I had listened to her play piano and also listened to her dog attempt to sing (more like howl) along, I had no clue that she was a graduate of the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. Looking back, I really wish I had spent more time, asked more questions and really gotten to know her better. But I was always so busy…
It is funny at funerals how we end up thinking about so many different things. We remember the person who is no longer here. We run back through our memories of that person and think about their life and our time with them.
But we also start to think about our own life and our own mortality. We realize that we will one day run out of time. We start to make comparisons to that person that is no longer here and wonder if this were our funeral instead of theirs, would we be happy with all that we had done or would we have regrets? Should we have pushed harder in our business? Should we have spent more time with our loved ones? What about that trip to Europe we just never got around to?
You may be wondering why in the world I am talking about death when this is supposed to be a day dedicated to tasks. Here is the thing. Life is short and it is easy to get stuck in our ways and end up wasting years of precious time on “stuff” that doesn’t matter or is just busy work.
Our goals should be to spend as much time with our loved ones as possible and to contribute to the happiness of others. Working ourselves to death, as they say, is not the goal.
Steve Jobs once said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
So what is my point and how does it relate to what we do? I think we really need to be conscious of time and how we use it. Is what you are doing right this second contributing to your happiness, to your families, to your clients? If not, stop doing that task or find a way to have it done or automated. We were not put on this Earth to toil away at meaningless pursuits. We should not live our lives being bored, not taking risks and playing it safe all the time.
Are you challenging yourself everyday to be a better you? Are you willing to try a new way to get something done? Can you put others needs before your own? If today was your last day, would you think, “man, I lived a kick butt life!” or something else?