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Why Remembering You’re Going to Die Will Wake You Up

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I lost it. I was at the cemetery yet again —reading the legacies of those who have left this experience. As I wandered around on a beautiful California morning, I’d come across a section where children lay to rest. Anywhere from a few days to a few years, I’d read their tombstones of the legacies they were able to create in a short time: joy, passion, love and wonder.

I wasn’t there to visit anyone in particular, I was there to wake up. Remembering we’re all going to die is a beautiful way to create clarity and make committed decisions now. I never see this as negative, I see it as an incredible opportunity to step into our greatness, instead of putting it off until next month, year or decade.

In this post, I’ll share 5 reasons as to why it’s important to do what you desire and create a life you can’t wait to wake up for:

1. On The Shortness Of Life

One of my favorite texts of all time comes from Seneca, a stoic philosopher who lived 2,000 years ago. And yet, this essay drives a crucial point home: we all have enough time, if we do it right. But often, we don’t. We put our dreams on hold to seek approval from others, we buy into the mentality of “someday” and end up living a life of regret and what could have beens.

We waste our time with mindless entertainment, gossip and caring way too much about what others think. We take the path others have told us is for us, but deep down we know the truth: it’s not.

So, how can you use your mortality to make bold decisions and live the life you’re called to right now? If you’re here, I know this isn’t you.

“Often a very old man has no other proof of his long life than his age.” – Seneca

2. Remember Your Mortality

The first step in harnessing the power of remembering we don’t have much time is simply to embrace our mortality. This simple shift in awareness is what 99% of people avoid: we know our time here is limited, but we rarely think about it.

Usually, this happens until someone around us experiences a crisis or death and wakes us up. Most people live in an illusion that death is very far off and likely won’t happen to them. But it’s not true. According to research by the United Nations, around 6,500 people die every day in the U.S. alone.

Instead of running from our mortality, face it head on and use it as leverage to ask bold questions:

  • What do you really want?
  • Who are you living for?
  • Are you living the life you’re meant for?

As Steve Jobs famously said in his riveting Stanford commencement speech in 2005: “remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.” Every day, take a moment to remember your time here is limited and you have a precious gift. Close your eyes, express gratitude and ensure you set the intention to truly live.

3. Use Reverse Visualization

One of my favorite techniques I use on myself and countless clients or listeners of the podcast is simple: reverse visualization.

We’ve all heard of visualization for success, and it’s a key practice to shift our awareness and gain clarity. But reverse visualization is strategically used to make bold decisions now by leveraging the possibility of regret.

Because most people are slow to make decisions, they miss out on the opportunity cost of a life they can’t imagine. They end up stuck in life, and justify it by saying: “I’ll get around to it next year. When life gets a little less hectic, I’m all in. Someday I’ll launch my own business.”

These are all lies designed to let you and I off the hook from making a committed decision from a place of power.

Pick an area of your life that isn’t working for you and ask a simple question: What does it feel like to wake up in 18 or 36 months when nothing has changed, except your circumstances are much, much worse? Dig deep into that reality —and the ripple effect it causes on every area of your life.

“I would visualize things coming to me. It would just make me feel better. Visualization works if you work hard. That’s the thing. You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.” – Jim Carrey

4. Spend Time With Older People

One of my favorite practices for remembering my own mortality is to have conversations with people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Undoubtedly, they have the deep wisdom of experience, and have shifted my life countless times.

When I was 24 and on the path to become a financial broker, a 64 year old man looked me in the eye and told me to follow my heart. I could see and feel the regret in this eyes. He had spent his entire life chasing something he didn’t want.

Bronnie Ware was a caretaker for those with little to no time to live, and would have conversations about their biggest regret. She ultimately created a book and platform out of it, compiling the most common themes. Number one was:“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

So, ask yourself: are you on a path designed by others —or one of your choosing? Regardless of the success you create, you’ll feel empty if it’s not truly yours.

5. It’s Your Time

Remembering we’re not here for long is a brilliant way to focus on what matters and release the noise. It’s about living a life on your terms, and not following a path simply because someone said you should. With this reminder in hand, it’s time to go out and make sure you’re living out loud, and never look back with regret.

How do you make sure you’re taking advantage of every single day you’re alive? Let us know how you express gratitude!

Hey, I’m Tommy. I don’t have anything figured out, but I love the process. If any part of this story resonated with you, I’d deeply appreciate a recommend and a share. For more insights, lessons and action steps to create the life you’ve been dreaming of, listen to the Resist Average Academy podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Web.

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Knowing Your Message vs Delivering Your Message

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Have you ever sent a text message only to have it misinterpreted by the person reading it? Happens all the time. Have you ever given a presentation that you were totally prepared for only to have it fall flat? Happens all the time. Have you ever had someone ask you something like, “Why are you mad?” when you were not at all mad? Happens all the time. (more…)

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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​​4 Boss Level Growth Strategies That Create an Optimized Life

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Building a business is about more than sales, marketing, and flexing on social media. While those things tend to draw attention, they attract the wrong type of clients and are not how you build a sustainable and freedom-focused business. (more…)

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Practicing Self-Devotion: 3 Ways Towards a More Mindful and Compassionate You

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I can still hear the voices of my older relatives and my elementary school teachers telling me “be disciplined”, “keep at it”, to give time and energy towards what we want. As a young, impressionable child, I believed all those things because well, they made sense. They worked. And honestly, I felt like it’s the only way to flourish. (more…)

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