|What's your epitaph?|
I've done it once or twice, and in principle it's a really healthy thing to do although if I'm honest it probably felt a bit cringeworthy at the time. What do you want to be remembered for?
People often seem to share articles about common regrets people have on their deathbed. A friend shared one this week that I found interesting and which got me thinking. Among the themes that come up in these kinds of articles are:
- Taking more risks,
- Having more baths (about giving yourself time to think),
- Not getting stuck on the work treadmill,
- Giving more time to your family, and
- Expressing your feelings more honestly.
All things that I'm sure many of us would like to devote more time to. I certainly would.
|It's easy to get stuck in a rut..|
One regret people had in the article above was about having the courage to live life true to ourselves, not the life others expect of us. This really does take daily courage - perhaps to leave the office on time, when the dominant culture is to stay late (arguably people work more effectively with a shorter working week anyway, like this company in Argentina found). It can be tough to challenge the status quo and face the "tuts" of your colleagues - although they're probably secretly wishing they were brave enough to leave on time too.
"What do you want to be remembered for?"Maybe it's about saying no to voluntary commitments, at your sports club, church, scout pack or whatever your Third Place might be. I find it hard to say no sometimes to things people ask of me, especially when it's something I enjoy doing - but it's important to set up appropriate boundaries, to give ourselves space to be true to ourselves rather than being the person other people expect us to be. I don't mean this as an excuse not to contribute to our wider communities, just to make a point that we need to find a good balance at times. It's healthy to say no sometimes, and it can give others an opportunity to fill the space - none of us are indispensable, although we'd love to think we are!
|Has your self image become distorted?|
As the saying goes, in our competitive world the only person we need to be better than is the person we were yesterday. It's ok to make mistakes, in fact as my mum would say, failure is just another way of learning. Likewise loss, trauma, grief can really affect our view of ourselves, and can take time to heal.
"Let's take courageous action to use our gifts and talents well.."It's easy to put on masks, to hide who we really are. And it's also easier to wish for a future that never comes, that we always put off taking steps towards. I believe we've all been made for a purpose by a loving God, and that embracing his plans for us is the best thing we can ever do - and the best place to start is with the things that we're passionate about and the things we're good at. We've all been given unique talents and gifts, and the challenge is to use them not bury them! As I wrote earlier this week, it's ok to start small and be a buzzard before we grow into an eagle!
So let's not be people full of deathbed regrets, pining for "the me I wish I was". Let's take more risks, have more baths, get off the treadmill, give more time to the ones we love and express ourselves more openly. I promise that life will be more of an adventure if we do!
Let's take courageous action to use our gifts and talents well, to be our true selves, and to live lives worthy of that epitaph.
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