What I discovered when I wrote my own eulogy.

It’s always enjoyable when things start to link together in life. This happened for me earlier in 2019, when a combination of sources all mentioned similar advice -

Start with the end in mind.

This is habit 2 in Stephen Covey’s renowned book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People’. I’d come across it in this book before, but it resurfaced during personal coaching sessions and on various other articles and books I’d been reading at the time.

It was time to revisit 7 habits and this time actually work through the exercises.

This culminated in me sitting in a cafe in Brisbane (on holiday) and writing my eulogy. Quite remarkably, this was one of the highlights of my holiday! Stephen Covey encourages you to imagine the funeral, and imagine a series of speeches, given by key people that you care about:

  • family
  • friends
  • work colleagues
  • people in the community

It took the whole day to immerse myself into this strange scene and to think about what I was hoping the people might say. The particularly interesting part is that you’re supposed to imagine that this is all happening only 3 years from now. That’s not long, and it certainly makes you sit up and think.

Whether you go as far as actually writing out a eulogy, or just take some time to think about how people would describe you, it’s certainly a worthwile exercise. The eulogy itself then served as a marker, as I could compare how my current behaviours and attitudes tied in with what I hoped would be said.

The exercise forced me to look at the end, in a powerful way, and it was instrumental in helping me write my life mission and purpose (later exercises in the book).

Being reminded of the end, and practicing this way of thinking has started seeping into my work too, and it’s enabled me to think more deeply. Overall, any tool that helps encourage longer-term thinking and improvement is something I try to embrace. Given the rapid pace of work and life in general, taking that step back and tying longer-term objectives to day-to-day behaviour is something I have found immensely valuable.

Published 24 Aug 2019

Thoughts and comments from me, Neil Lewin, the owner of Semantic, the friendliest UK web agency.