As I prepare to release my next book, Cancel the Noise, I want to share with each of you a major discovery that has appeared to me more and more over the course of my journey.
The idea that I want to talk about is the paradox of our priorities: how we pursue lifestyles built on our resumés, yet as we knowingly approach death, we yearn to be remembered by every quality except that resumé.
You see, during the course of our lives, we seek success of every tangible sort, but when it comes to looking back on a life once-lived, those tangible things—the measuring cups of our entire existence—seem emptier than ever.
I have never read, nor have I written, a eulogy that expressed how accomplished a person was, or how brilliant of a worker they were. Even the most celebrated innovators are not eulogized by the impact of their inventions, but by their motives, the bonds they formed, acts of kindness, and what they meant to the people around them.
With this said, I’d like to offer a tidbit to those who ask “What should I do next?” referring to their life and career. This past year, my inbox has flooded with this question. I don’t know the answer, but I have a better question.
What words will be used by loved ones describing and celebrating your legacy?
If you wonder what a successful life really feels like, all you have to do is close your eyes and think about what you want your eulogy to sound like. Do it right now.
Internalize this list. Memorize it. Stare at it every day. What you are staring at is your personal definition of success.
It sounds crazy, but everything else you’re pursuing—everything else you whine and worry about—is secondary. And if you’re going to do those secondary things, make sure they serve your list; make sure they increase your capacity to live by the qualities on your list. Stop chasing things that’s aren’t on your list. Because that list is all you have.
The reality—the inescapable pain—is that you’ll either pass away first, or you’ll live long enough to see everyone you love pass away. Every person you’ll ever meet will also have to endure one of these two outcomes.
This can be a daunting, even depressing, truth to face… but it can also be your call to action: to put aside the past, to forgive, and to love people a little harder today. And that, my friends, is the only way to live a successful life. With intent, not regret. What’s on your list?
Wishing you clarity on your journey.