Deb Sofield


What would you do if you knew you would die today

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Not the headline you’re use to seeing, but recently I was catching up on my reading and came across my AARP magazine (you know, the magazine that reminds us all that we’re over 50 and are on the slippery downhill slope) and the words of the question about having just a few more hours to live jumped off the page at me, and I thought to myself, well, what would I do in the 9 hours I have left?

Honestly, I was torn between organizing who would get what and feeling sorry for myself for not having eaten my way through Italy and buying more shoes…or going to see the northern lights in Norway, or doing whatever else is on my Bucket List that I swore I would do while I could. There goes 1 hour spent on not being able to decide what to do!

Nine hours doesn’t give me much time to say good-bye or hello or I’m sorry or I love you or a thousand other things I could, and should, say and do.

So what would I do…with the now-eight hours I still have? Lucky you–you still have nine! What would you do?

In my last hours I’m not going to write another post on getting out of your way and moving on in your life because your time is limited and you’re growing older, and pretty soon you won’t be able to walk up the cobble stone steps to the lighthouse because your knees and back and all your joints will fight you every step of the uneven way. And I am not going to remind you that you ought to travel, now while you have a bit of money in the bank, because you’ll not have that extra money due to the unexpected need to buy a new water heater. I am not even going to harass you into doing the one thing you promised yourself that you would do in your lifetime with your kids or spouse or even your lifelong group of friends.

No, I’m not going to remind you of those things, because you already know these things and you’re still not making any movement, plans or progress to do anything about it, so I’m not going to be a bother anymore about getting on with your amazing life. In fact, I wouldn’t think twice about insisting that you live your best life ever now–that would be so out of character for me. (You know I am joking, right?)

But before I go, I am curious as to why you think you have time? Are you so powerful that you can beat the odds? (I doubt it.) Or are you too blessed to be stressed so you’ll just wait until the spirit moves you? (Let’s hope so.) Maybe you just can’t see taking the time or spending the money because you never know what could happen? (You are right about that. Let’s just be safe and live in fear.) That all seems wise..until you realize you have just a few hours left to live.

I have always been intrigued by the quote from Ben Franklin, “Most people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75.” Huh, is that true? Could it be? I mean, really, who lives such an empty life that they don’t they know they’re hollow?

I feel like I should start shouting that you don’t need to worry about dying; you need to worry about not living!

There is a well known quote that states, Don’t die before you’re dead. Makes sense when you think about it, but how many people do we know who are–in a sense–already gone? And how did they get that way?

Let me touch on a few contemplations while I still have time.

I’ll take the first one from a quote by Steve Jobs. “Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

My second is a line I heard a while back that says, “My mission in life is to be so busy loving my life that I have no time for hate, regret, worry, fret or fear.”

And my third is from motivational speaker Les Brown who said, “Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”

No one likes to think about it, but you know that your time is limited, so consider that you might need to break away from those “well meaning folks” who have your life planned out to suit their needs and not yours, because in the end living someone else’s life, someone else’s dreams, goals, ambitions and whatever else they have decided to let you do for them is a waste of your time and talent. And once you’re all used up living someone else’s life, you’ve got little to nothing to give yourself and those who you choose to love and care for.

We all have colleagues who do things for family out of obligation. Yes, things get done but rarely with joy… it seems more like obligation. I’m not saying you should stop your goodness to others, but I will ask that you consider not taking on anyone else. Why? Because you need to spend time on you. That is not selfish, by the way. That is taking care of yourself in the limited time you have left on this earth so don’t waste it living, doing, or giving to someone else when they could do it for themselves and they just choose to rely on you. Since they don’t value your time, they just use your talent because they value their wants and desires over everything and everybody.

Please note that I didn’t say needs. Many of our friends and family have real needs. Please don’t read my words as a dereliction of duty to those who truly need you. Just be aware that wants and needs are very different and you have to decide where to draw the line.

The reason I am encouraging you to make some hard choices for your future is because your time on earth is limited, so, keeping that in mind, let me inspire you to be so busy loving life that you have no time for hate, regret, worry, fret or fear.

Wow! Wouldn’t that be grand if you took back the years wasted on hate, regret, worry and fear and walked away from all those weights of self-chosen commitments that you carry around in your heart and mind so you can live more freely? Seriously! Drop those unneeded burdens in the trash.

Let me give you a suggestion that I give to those who I counsel: Pick a weekend day on the calendar and, that morning, write out the names of the people who have hurt you, who make you feel worthless and small or who cause you to worry and fret. (Please don’t write more than 7 names. If you have more names, re-do the exercise the next day.) Then, one by one, mentally bring them to mind and then, out loud, (verbally) say their name while you cross out or erase their name on your list. By the end of the exercise, your paper will be smudged but clean of any writing that is legible.

That action is for your mental, emotional and physical state so you can let go of the chain that you are holding onto that connects you to that person. By physically crossing off or erasing their name, you are breaking free from their grasp. That means maybe un-following them on Facebook (or in some cases un-friending them), taking down every photo of them and throwing the pictures away for good, and removing any items or gifts that you still have that they gave you (or you took walking out the door). You need to remove the essence of them to free up space so you have a place for what brings you joy, peace and perhaps–dare I say it–love.

And the reason you do this is to exchange the past for the present, because as Les Brown reminds us, too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.

Listen, you don’t have any extra time to waste living your fears, you just don’t, my friend, and for as much as we wish time would stand still, it doesn’t, so now you need to figure out how you can go about living your dreams.

Nothing you do will be easy, but I doubt anyone told you it would be. What you instinctively know is that you must persevere so you can find the path to all the things you promised yourself that you would do before you die. And if you find yourself too depleted to think, then just ask yourself what is really important to you and those you love and then have the wisdom and courage to build your life around your answer because you don’t want to get to the end of your life and find that you just lived the length of it. At the end of your days, you need to know that you lived the width and depth of it as well.

With these ideas in mind, tell me now… What would you do if you knew you would die today at 5:09 p.m.?

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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