If you don’t know your purpose, envision your funeral
[gn_pullquote align=”right”]“Begin with the end in mind.” ~ Stephen Covey[/gn_pullquote] If you don’t know your purpose, then envision your funeral. What do you want people to say about you at your funeral? What do you want to be remembered by? Those are the things that have real meaning to you and your soul.
I had forgotten about this. Earlier in my life, I did this technique where you visualize your own funeral.
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- Picture various people (good friend / family member / community / co-worker) getting up to say a few words about you
- The type of person you were
- What you stood for
- How you lived
I remember doing this and had listed a whole spectrum of things that were important to me at that time.
I also did it again when I was at “my worst”. By worst I mean when I actually thought I was weeks away from dying. I was deep in a “I wasted my life” mindset and deep in regret about all that I “didn’t do” and the type of person I had turned into. It came out more of the opposite of what the exercise intended but it’s still useful as I reflect on it now. I imagined all the worst things people would say about me at my funeral. My deepest regrets. That I was a bitch, that I was always “too busy” for people I loved, that I was always chasing money & success, and what saddened me the most when I imagined my funeral back at that time, was that “noone knew who the real me was, not even myself”. Up until that turning point in my life, I was too afraid to find out who I was, and never gave myself permission to “be me” whoever that was. Getting “rich”, owning possessions, living my life so closed-off from other people, was not a life, and not something I would be proud of at my death. So the “opposite” of that is what I really value.
Since that time I’ve been on a life-discovering mission, always seeking what is real about this world.. what is the truth, who are we, what are we doing here, is there a purpose?
I’ve been on a trip of self-discovery; from “thinking I knew” what my purpose was, to being ecstatically happy to be “on my path” to then having to face all my deepest-fears and experiencing the most hellish dimension available to us humans; “the dark night of the soul“. Where every belief you had, every “truth” you knew, everything you thought was “right about you” was turned on its head and a new way of looking at the world is birthed. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, although I think most people go through it at some point, and I’m still going through the remnants of it now as I really gave myself a beating (our minds are our worst enemies.. noone is as cruel to us as our own thoughts), so I will not say that I’m totally “out of the dark” yet because I still really miss the “happy & carefree” Penny that had emerged just before I stepped off the cliff. But today I’m thinking again about which direction to take in life, and a couple of youtube videos reminded me of the “eulogy analogy”.
What would you want people to say at your funeral?
Your family, your co-workers, your friends, your partner, etc. – anyone that has a meaningful connection to you. The best things that they would say… about the type of person you were, what you stood for, & how you lived.. is what you are aiming for, it’s your “best-self”, it’s your ultimate “life purpose”.
Those are the qualities you subconsciously or consciously value that you would regret “not living up to”; those are the values you hold dear to your soul. That’s your true “bucketlist”, true life-path, true mission, true life-purpose.
Identify your core values and “be that”. Your “legacy” is your mission.
- What did they admire about you?
- What characteristics are you known for?
- What is the vision you portray?
- What kind of friend or family member are you?
- What talents are you known for?
- What impact have you made on their lives?
- What did you help them with?
From that exercise, you could glean another list:
- What am I passionate about?
- When am I the happiest?
- What makes me smile?
- Who in your life matters to you most?
- What are my deepest core values?
- Looking back at your life; what matters to you most?
- What do you most wish people knew about you?
- What am I most proud of?
Integrity, faith, humour, friendship, family, patience, enthusiasm, passion, etc.