I can remember the day clearly. I was sitting on my living room couch, reading Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkevy's newest book Living Forward on my iPhone. I had just finished writing one of the exercises in the book and I could not believe the words I was reading back on my screen. The tears were flowing and I was a crumpled mess.
The exercise the writers ask the reader to complete is to write your own obituary. Sounds morbid, I know. But it is an incredible exercise in reflecting upon your ideal life – meaning, ideally, at the end of your life, how do you want to be remembered? What legacy do you want to leave? What impact do you hope to have on the world? What do you hope people say about you as a wife, mother, friend, and world changer after your time here on earth?
Staring at my screen I had written hopeful things. Hopeful things about how I help families thrive at home through strategic interior design. Hopeful things on helping mothers embrace motherhood, and discover what is possible in their lives. And hopeful things about my passion for my Catholic faith and the way I share it with others.
As I sat there on my couch with my iPhone in my hand, tears blurring my vision and my chest heavy with emotion, I realized something huge. I realized there were a ton of areas in my life where I was simply not living in congruence with the words I wrote. I realized that if I wanted to actually hear the words I wrote spoken at my funeral, I would have to actually live those things out authentically. And doing that terrified me.
There are reasons I think everyone should write their own obituary:
1. It's a wake-up call
I did not realize there were things about my life that did not feel "complete" until I stared at what I wrote that day. Writing your aspirational obituary can reveal gaping holes in your lifestyle, values and habits, and prompt you to change. Just read what happened to television character Dr. Frasier Crane when his obituary was mistakenly printed in the local newspaper.
2. It can prompt immediate change
After I dried my tears and faced the facts that I was a little disappointed with areas in my life that weren't really lining up with how I wanted to be remembered, I got to work examining those areas. This is where the book Living Forward was very helpful to me. The book helped me to develop attainable goals to get me closer to where I wanted my life to be. And it was interesting how it did not feel like pressure- simple just realizations of my authentic self.
3. It helps you be the unique person you were always meant to be
I used to (OK I still do) struggle a lot with comparison – comparing myself to others and benchmarking myself against what others have going on in their lives. Experience has shown me that this is no way to live. It is exhausting and doesn't get you anywhere. Being uniquely you, and setting the world ablaze by being uniquely you is what I believe we are meant to do on this earth. Figuring out who we uniquely are is a whole other endeavor- and I think the exercise of writing your own obituary can help reveal some of that.
If you were to write your own obituary- what would it say? What do you want your legacy to be? I would love to know in the comments below.