At many of these inspirational events, they ask, “What would you do if you had 30 days to live? How would you spend it? What would you do differently?” I never really took those questions very seriously because the end of my life seemed so far out into the future. But the truth is that we are all dying. Some will die more quickly than others. But we will all end up in the same place. Worm food. Take a tape measure and roll it out to 80 inches. Let that represent your life span. If you have great genetics, roll it out further. Now look at where you are now. 30? 40? 50? 60? In any case, I am always struck by the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of tape left.
If today were the last day of your life, would you do the same thing that you are doing today? It is something to think about.
This past year, my wife and I thought about that a lot. Four of our very good friends left this earth, all in their fifties. All of their lives were cut short. It made us examine what we were doing. And we found out that we talked and thought about work way too much. We worried about money too much. We obsessed over things that really didn’t make that much of a difference in our lives. We came to the not so profound conclusion that life is too short. So we decided to do something about it. We decided to take every Friday off. We also decides to take at least three weeks of vacation this year. When you add up the Fridays, that is seven weeks. Add the vacations and that’s ten weeks that we are taking off. That’s even more than some Europeans.
Don’t get me wrong. We are not perfect at it. We have worked some Fridays. We have had stretches of financial worries and other trivial worries. It is a constant struggle. But we are making the effort. And perhaps, over time, we will become proficient at it. With managing your time, it comes down to this: There are choices and there are consequences. What choices are you going to make? How are you going to spend your remaining days?
Steve Jobs’ commencement speech to Stanford discusses death as a motivator. Look just after 9 minutes and listen as he talks about his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer. It’s an eye opener.
We are all dying. We are all marching toward death. What are you going to choose to see along the way?