Will you die today? You’ll discover shortly why I’m asking you this question. 64,000 people will die today around the world, and 35 million people will die this year. What makes you so sure you will not be one of the 35 million this year? You and I have no idea how much time we have left. This year alone over 4.8 million people will die because of cancer. Can you guarantee your spouse that you won’t be one of them?
If you knew the precise moment of your death, how would that change the decisions you make today? How would it change the decisions you make this week, this month, or this year? Obviously, we cannot ask anyone who just died what they would have done differently in their last days or even the last year of their life, but what do you think someone would say? Imagine for one moment what you would say?
Will You Die Today?
Let’s be frank. It is certain I would not say on my deathbed, “Gee, I sure wish I would have worked longer hours and retired a lot later than I did so I could have built a bigger retirement account.” I’m also pretty sure I would not say, “I wish I had been harder on my spouse and children,” or “I think I should have sat around and watched more vampire movies.” And I’m quite sure I would not say, “I should have spent more time on Facebook.”
I think one of the biggest curses of this generation is “procrastination.” We procrastinate so much in life, and why do we do that? Because we think we will live forever. Or maybe a better way to say that is that we just don’t believe that death is around the corner. This year you can bet that 35 million people don’t think they are doing to die, but die they surely will.
Right up to the end they had the same mind set you and I have today. They were thinking about what they wanted to eat, what kind of car they wanted to buy next, how much they could make in this business or in that venture, how much longer they would work before they retired with all the money they needed to live happily ever after. No one goes around contemplating the question, “Will you die today?” That would be kind of morbid, wouldn’t it?
A man lived in Redding, California his whole adult career. He owned a home and had thought about retiring for the last 10 years, but he thought he should just work a little longer to build the retirement account up a little more. His financial adviser assured him he had enough, but life is full of uncertainties, so he wanted a little more. His careful decision making process seemed wise, and it probably was.
After years of casual research, he narrowed down the one place he wanted to live the rest of his life. It was an extraordinary little peaceful town with its own micro-climate and no extreme temperatures, and it was an area of stunning natural beauty and recreational opportunities on both water and in the mountains. It is a little Washington town on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula called Sequim.
Just before he could sell his home in Redding, he learned he had cancer and he would probably have less than a year to live. Can you imagine the thoughts that would go through his head? Had he only retired 10 years earlier, he might have at least enjoyed the last years of his life doing what he had dreamed of doing his whole life, instead of working at a job that he had grown to dislike because of a boss who was an example of the Peter principal at work. He might have retired and spent all his time with his wife, instead of promising her that one day they would spend more time together. He might have visited his adult children and his grandchildren in his last years, if only he had known he was running out of time.
My son died at 27 years old of a heart attack. He was a professional strongman, came in second in The World’s Strongman Contest in Chengdu, China. He had a beautiful wife and two weeks earlier his first baby girl. He was 6’5″ and 350 pounds of massive muscle. He never saw it coming. He was gone in seconds.
You might live for 20 or 30 years, and maybe I will, too. Or one of us could be gone tomorrow. What would you do differently if you knew? When you die, what will your legacy be? What will you be remembered for? Who will remember you fondly? Is what you are doing now going to last, or is it just dust in the wind?
I don’t know if you are spiritual or not. If you are, surely you must ask yourself about your eternal destiny. If you are not spiritual, you still will die at some unpredictable time in the future, near or far. Right? We all face death. Will you procrastinate and make your plans as though you have forever, or will you live productively today and this year for the ones who love you most?
I hope and pray you are not one of my clients who spends a lifetime working and building a retirement account only to buy a home in gorgeous Sequim, Washington, and then I read about you passing away within a year after you finally arrived at your destination for the perfect retirement life. If I may be bold, may I say I hope you don’t spend a lifetime chasing fame and fortune only to end up living the last year of your life doing what you always wanted to do. Be wise, but don’t wait until the end before you live wise.
If there is something important that you have been planning to do, please don’t procrastinate. Do it soon. Plan it now. If there is someone you intend to help in any way, don’t wait any longer. Help them now. If you plan to give of your time or your money, do not put it off. There is no time left to procrastinate. If you’re passionate about something, do it now. You may not have tomorrow.
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