Imagine that you knew that you were going to die in a month. Not from sickness, not from some terrible accident that you have to dread. All you know is that in 30 days, you’ll peacefully take in your last breath.*
What would you do with the time you had left? Would you call friends? Would you retire? Would you want to see your family? Are there places in the world you’ve longed to see? What are the things that would be important to you to accomplish in your last 30 days?
- Make a list of 10 things you would want to do. In other words, what is on your “bucket list”? Does it involve people you have known in your life or family members or friends who you would want to reach out to? What would you want to say to them?
- Take a look at the list and see if you can answer this question: Why aren’t you doing those things, going to those places, and calling those people? Why aren’t you doing that now? The purpose of this is to think about your priorities, and what is in the way of your priorities. Is it your children, your job, the obligations that you have in your day-to-day life? Is there a way to organize your life according to your priorities?
- Now, make another list of 10 things that you’ve done in your life that you’re most proud of. These could be accomplishments you’ve done through work; people you’ve helped; milestones you achieved that you never thought you would reach; ways in which you’ve taken control of your life; or even simply things that you have not reacted to that you might have reacted to negatively in the past.
- What do these two lists tell you about yourself? What are your priorities? What are your goals? What’s important to you?
- Lastly, think about a time when your life has been in a transition. Maybe after you’ve transitioned from school to the world of work; from married to divorced; maybe you’ve experienced the death of somebody close to you. Then think about how you handled that transition. Did it match with the values and the guiding principles up above? If you’re going through a life transition now, how could you use those principles to help you get through that transition time?
For instance, almost 30 years ago after getting out of a terrible period in my life, I made a conscious choice to be joyful and to be grateful for the many gifts I’ve been given. Honestly, I was grateful to be alive. Since then, each time I encountered something really difficult, I have tried my best to stick to that decision. This includes the mourning period after the sudden death of my first husband in 2001, or the not-quite-as-sudden death of my father a few months ago. I have worked hard to concentrate on the many gifts I have been given from these two wonderful people — not the lack of their presence in my day-to-day life. And while I miss them both, I feel their presence continues to be with me as I appreciate the love and companionship that I had with them. Being true to myself has helped me remember my priorities during difficult times.
Sometimes I ask clients to state their guiding principals for their divorce. I ask them, “what do you want to be able to say about yourself when you look back at this time in 5 years?? “I want to be fair,” they may say. Or, “I want to be generous, but fair to myself, also.” “I want to shield my kids from the struggle.” There are all kinds of things….
So here is my question to you: What are your core values? What are your priorities? And how can you use them to guide your behavior in a time of upheaval?
Joy S. Rosenthal, Esq.
Rosenthal Law & Mediation
225 Broadway, Suite 2605
New York, New York 10007
Phone : 212.532.4704