I woke up this morning to learn of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, and am amazed by the growing list of people who passed away this summer who have left an indelible mark on our culture, popular and otherwise. From Ed McMahon, to Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, John Hughes…with every press release I feel a sense of sadness, as I lived in a world touched by their creations. Regardless of controversies, whether or not they had slipped into relative obscurity, or displayed human vulnerability and frailty, in the end, it is their contribution to the world that I will remember.
What does this have to do with goals, motivation, and optimism? Everything. The mere notion of a goal is to declare of a point of completion. And no matter how we slice it, we all arrive on the planet with a point of completion on the horizon. Between now and that point of completion, is an infinite supply of opportunity to create, contribute, and leave behind our own positive legacy. Every goal setting guru suggests some version of, “keep the end in mind.” And nothing is more “endish” than the moment we exit the planet. If we want to have a sense of the arc we would like our lives to take, then there is no better place to start than at the end.
To jump start this process we can ask ourselves the following questions:
What is one positive contribution I will leave behind if my life were to end right this second?
The good news is that you are reading, and I am writing, this next sentence, so we still have more life left to live. That being the case, what is one positive contribution that I can make today? This week? This year?
Let’s say we all get to live to a very ripe old age, full of vitality and vigor. What would I like my obituary and eulogies to reveal about my life?
Now, by all means, let us go forth and embrace this day, embrace this life, and leave behind our own indelible marks.