My uncle “Bub” emailed a touching note to me and my siblings to let us know he was thinking about us on this sad occasion. He also reflected on his visit with us last year to celebrate Dad’s 90th birthday. Bub reminded us that “life comes down to Moments.” As someone who just entered his 88th year, my uncle has come to appreciate one of life’s most important lessons.
We can set ambitious goals, pursue a rewarding career, or make grand plans for a successful enterprise. But in the end, it’s instructive to remember that what counts most in life – what we cherish at the end of our lives – are times shared with those who mean the most to us.
Ironically, this point is reinforced beautifully in one of my favorite business books.
Executive Coach Marshall Goldsmith closes What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, with a thought-provoking chapter. He asks the reader to imagine that you are 95 years old and ready to die. You have the opportunity to go back in time and give advice to your younger self. What counsel would you provide?
He then shares what elderly folks have actually reported when asked this question, and three key points emerged:
1. Enjoy the NOW. Find happiness and meaning in the current moment. Quit projecting ahead to when you get the next achievement, promotion or house, and focus on appreciating and taking pleasure in who and what you have in your life today.
2. Make time for family and friends. The people who care about you most want time with you. Do you carve out enough time each day, week or year for your personal relationships? You have to invest lots of moments with them in order to strengthen the bonds you have.
3. Follow your dreams, both large and small. Have you figured out your true purpose in life? Once you do, your life has more meaning if you give yourself permission to pursue that passion. No one else can experience your life but YOU, so don’t be held back by concerns about what others will think.
Applying this wisdom starts with awareness.
Take time to think about your current attitudes and actions as they relate to these pieces of advice. If you agree that these are major contributors to a successful life, what do you need to change to make your daily life become more aligned with them?
Start by taking one day or one minute – whatever you have – to translate these ideas into action.
That way, when your time comes, you'll have no regrets. Instead, you and those you love will have only cherished memories of all the moments that added up to life well-lived.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
Thornton Wilder, American playwright (1897-1975)