What if you found out right now that you only had a year to live? What would you do? Who would you spend time with? How would your life change? More importantly, what would you do that you have put off doing while waiting for someday to come?
While this may seem like a morbid thought to ruminate on; it’s actually a powerful tool and strategy to aide with perspective and putting one’s dreams into action. So, I asked the members of my Young Adult coaching groups the same question. To say the answers surprised me would be a lie—the answers seemed typical from spending time with one’s family, to going down in a blaze of glory robbing banks and museums. But one young lady in particular simply said that she wasn’t done living yet. There were too many places she wanted to see and experience, share her wedding day with her father, and see her grandmother in Russia before she passed. As the group nodded in agreement with this young lady’s declaration for life, it was apparent that each person wasn’t where he or she wanted to be.
What if you only had a year to live?
Viewing your life as finite with an expiration date of one year is a great way to shoot through all the distractions, then live and focus on what really matters. From the conversation we had, family and loved ones topped the list. So, I asked participants to dig a little deeper. I asked them to write down how they would interact with their families, then their significant others, then how they would interact with a complete stranger, then finally, those they were hostile towards.
With the foundation laid, the assignment for the upcoming week was to treat everyone as if they only had a year to live.
The following week, everyone shared their experiences. All of them had resoundingly positive things to report with respects to their interactions with friends, estranged family, and strangers. One boy shared that he had one of the greatest conversations he’s had with his mother in a while. Another said this assignment motivated him to reach out to his sister after a yearlong silence as a result of an argument that occurred over the Easter holiday. Another divulged that he finally had the courage to tell the girl at the coffee shop that he thought she was really pretty and looked forward to seeing her each morning on his way to school. He was terrified to confront the barista but in the end, it paid off. He lived his truth, but she also gave him a note the next day thanking him for the compliment because it made her day.
Without even realizing it, while the group members were preparing for death, they really began to live. Their newfound perceived mortality enabled meaningful conversations and interactions with others all while honoring themselves in the process. Each person was able to initiate conversations with others that under normal circumstances—they would have never even had! This sense of urgency to live life to the fullest opened doors for these young people that were always there, quietly awaiting someone to knock and enter.
Roughly, 151,000 people around the world die each day. That’s a little over 55 million people a year. All of our time here is borrowed, so how are you planning on maximizing your time, work, and above all, your interactions with others? Simply taking a moment to pay someone a compliment, picking up the phone, or helping someone in need, builds community and forms relationships with others. What we do and how we interact with others sends ripples out into the world. What kind of ripple are you sending to echo for eternity?