How would you live if you knew your life would soon be over?
After the sudden death of my father in 2004 from a massive heart attack, 3 weeks before my wedding, I vowed to live my life to the fullest. At the time however, I didn't know how. I was so sad and so busy in the doing. I was driving myself harder and harder. It was an escape from the pain. It was a vicious cycle. Deep down, I knew I had to stop or I would end up like him. I had to slow down, be silent and question everything. In particular, I became fascinated with creating a quality future for myself. I wanted to live the depth and width as well as the length of my life.
I read voraciously. I prayed often. I meditated. I cried... a lot. In so doing I decided I wanted--needed-- my tomorrows to be better than they were. Lucky for me, I was gifted the book The 5 Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, written by John Izzo. Amazing, life changing book. In the book Izzo spoke of exactly what I felt after losing my father so tragically: we are here for an undefined yet limited amount of time. And we have unlimited choices about how to spend our time. Most importantly, the choices we make (and those we do not make!) create the fabric of our life. In his book what Izzo was trying to understand was--- if at the end of our life, we are to die happy, what does that mean? What does it look like, feel like? And how do we do it? What he found by interviewing people who were deemed by their family and friends as "having lived a happy life" was that they were wise. They understood what really mattered to them and lived accordingly. They took risks and had the courage to move toward what they wanted out of life rather than away from what they feared. Easy, no? Worth it? Yes. They had no regrets!! What a wonderful way to have lived. I am here to tell you it's possible for all of us.
Losing my father was very painful. In order to survive I had to make choices and therefore changes in order to create a future I would love. I also had to find the gift of his passing. Izzo's book helped me uncover this gift, which ultimately fueled my actions. The gift was the choice I made to live my life with no regrets.
My experience of losing my father so unexpectedly showed me that even a full life is short. I decided I better get busy living-- doing and being-- what I love, both personally and professionally. It's now 12 years after my dad's death, and when faced with a challenging decision, all I ask myself to seal the deal is, "Will I regret this?" Powerful. Works every time. Try it.