Ask Amelia

Want A Better Life? Consider Your Funeral

Posted on October 10, 2020 in Design Your Life

0 (7)

When I worked as a classroom teacher, there was a popular concept called ‘Backwards Design’ that was very effective for planning curriculum. Planning with the End in Mind really means beginning each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and then staying focused on those goals to make it happen.

“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” contains a strategy that can help you figure out what sort of actions you need to take at this stage in your life. Here is a condensed version of the exercise excerpted from the book, as Stephen R. Covey wrote it:

“In your mind’s eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one. Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there.

As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.

As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers. The first is from your family, immediate and also extended —children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents who have come from all over the country to attend. The second speaker is one of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person. The third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from your church or some community organization where you’ve been involved in service.

Now think deeply:

What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life?

What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would like their words to reflect?

What kind of son or daughter or cousin?

What kind of friend?

What kind of working associate?

What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember?

Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?”

This strategy really gets at your core values and causes you to reflect on how you are leading your life.

If you don’t like the way things are, it’s time to take some actionable steps to be able to have someone share a different story.

What do you want your story to be?

Read next:

Amelia's Free Design Thinking Action Plan


For the latest news on Mindful Living, Design Thinking Leadership, and how ‘Taking 20’ can help, subscribe to Amelia’s ‘Mindful Leading & Living’ Action Plan.