Chances are you’ve probably heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “There are two things certain in life: death and taxes.” Even though we know death is inevitable for all of us, it can still be morbid picturing the end of our life while asking ourselves, When I die, how do I want to be remembered? Yet, asking yourself that question from time-to-time can shine a light on your past, the current state of your life, and where you want to go in the future. In short, asking “How do I want to be remembered?” allows you to look inward, reflect on the experiences that have brought you to where you are now, and then envision how you want the rest of your life to play out.
So how do you begin contemplating the answer to such an introspective inquiry? First, sit in the moment. Focus on being present and removing all distractions. This time is just for you. Here are a few sample questions that may help begin the process:
What do I consider my successes in life?
What are some of my failures and what did they teach me?
What have been some of my most influential experiences to date?
What do I see as my place or purpose?
What one piece of advice would I give my children and/or grandchildren to take into the future?
Maybe you want to be remembered for your volunteer work helping the less fortunate. Perhaps you want to be remembered for your professional successes. Maybe you want to be remembered as a motivational speaker who inspired others with your story of perseverance through challenges. Perhaps you want to be remembered as a father who was always there for his children. Maybe you want to be known as the sister that everyone could count on, even those not connected to you genetically. Perhaps you want to be known as the person who made everyone laugh, even in their darkest moments. Maybe you want to be known as a mentor who provided encouragement to youth needing to believe in possibilities. Perhaps you want to be known as a politician who worked for all people, not just your constituents. Maybe you want to be remembered as the physician who stops his busy day for a moment to hold the hand of a patient having difficulty handling bad news.
Once you decide how you would like to be remembered, write it down. Length is not important. Be as concise or as lengthy as you feel necessary. This is just one example of a remembrance statement:
I want to be remembered as a kind friend, wife, mother, and trusted guide who provided hope to anyone who needed it, listened more than I talked, and helped others find humor in every situation. I want to be remembered for my ability to connect with everyone who crossed my path—for making them feel welcome and reminding them that we are all just doing our best and that it’s okay to make mistakes. Most of all, I want to be remembered as someone who loved, learned, and left the Earth a better place in the process.
It’s okay if the answer to this all-important question changes as you grow and develop personally. Life is always evolving and transforming, so why shouldn’t you? Once you have formulated your statement, hang it somewhere where you can view it on a daily basis. The power behind this statement will help guide you through the present moment and into a clearer future to become all you were meant to be.
Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.