Steven Covey in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, challenges his readers to imagine attending their own funeral at the end of their lives. What would they desire to hear spoken about them? What legacy would be listed as the crowning achievement of their lives? Who would be there to pay respects and honor what their lives had meant?
He then goes on to say, “What are you doing NOW to make sure these are the things that really will be said about you? Each of us must live life backwards – begin at the end, and then begin working toward that clear goal.”
After this introduction, I gave the class an opportunity to put this exercise into action. Our handouts were fitting:
I recalled how a couple weeks ago I was driving and suddenly realized I was further down the road than I last recalled. I was basically driving “unconsciously”. Many in the class could relate. (Scary thought, huh?) But here’s the point: If we’re not careful, we can easily live our lives in the same way. A day goes by, a week, a month, a year… a decade — and where did it go? What do I have to show for it?
We then took a few minutes to write down those things which we would like others to remember about us. Basically, it’s like asking the question, “What would we like our children to tell our grandchildren about us if we never had the opportunity to personally know them?” It was interesting to hear the comments, to see the facial expressions, and to observe the “wheels” turning in their minds.
The toughest question closed out our time together: “Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order to see this list come to fruition?”
The truth of the matter is that we cannot live life backwards, but we can certainly learn from it.