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What will they say at your funeral?

What will they say at your funeral?

Do you ever read the obituaries printed at the back of your local newspaper or online?

I do.

It’s beautiful, bittersweet, and fascinating to see someone’s entire existence summed up in a few sentences.

Reading our local obituaries, I often wonder, “What is mine going to say?”

I also wonder, “What would mine say… if I had made a series of different choices five or ten years ago? Where would I have ended up?”

Twelve years ago, I quit my job as a real estate agent because I was miserable and cranky and because (for reasons I didn’t quite understand yet) I felt a strong yearning to study psychology, emotional wellbeing, and personal development.

I didn’t know how it was going to shake out, exactly, but I knew that I was being called to pursue a career as a life coach.

But what if I had ignored that calling? What if I had decided, “Oh, that’s foolish and unrealistic. Real estate is what I do. It pays well. Real estate is where I’m going to stay.”

Here’s the obituary of that life—the life I could have led:

Susan Elizabeth Oglesbee-Hyatt (May 5, 1973 – October 15, 2073)

Susan was devoted wife and mother. She is a retired real estate broker of 35 years. She loved shopping, Diet Coke and Taco Bell. A long-time member of Weight Watchers, she will be dearly missed by her lifelong friends from the Evansville Weight Watchers Chapter, as well as her two children, Ryan and Cora. Susan’s immense collection of beige and taupe-colored Talbots blazers and dress pants will be donated to “Dress for Success.” A ceremony will be held on Sunday evening at St. Ben’s Cathedral. Please join us to celebrate Susan’s life and legacy, particularly her well loved pearls of wisdom, “Nobody said life would be a picnic,” and “You get the cards you’re dealt and that’s that.”

Oh my Lord. I can totally envision myself as a 100-year-old Taco Bell-loving cranky-pants senior citizen. That’s certainly one version of the story of my life. That’s how it could have gone, and most likely, would have gone.

But I chose to re-write the narrative. I took a series of risks. I disrupted the status quo of my world. I made small choices and big choices and changed the trajectory of my story.

Here’s the obituary that pairs with the life I am currently leading:

Susan Elizabeth Oglesbee-Hyatt (May 5, 1973 – October 15, 2073)

Susan was an outspoken feminist, entrepreneur, international traveler, published author, runner, and devoted wife and mother. Her passion for running followed her well into her 90s, and at age 92, she became the oldest woman in the State of Georgia to complete a marathon. She loved strong coffee, chilled Champagne, and was infamous for her annual “Semi-Nude Lake Jump Photo Series” (now on display at the Savannah Public Art Gallery.) Through her work as a Master Certified Life Coach, author, and public speaker, Susan touched the lives of millions of women, helping her clients to pursue their goals and dreams with absolutely no regrets. A ceremony will be held on Sunday evening at Susan’s downtown home, the epicenter for so many of our community’s legendary parties and masquerade balls. Please join us to celebrate Susan’s life and legacy, particularly her well loved pearls of wisdom, “If you crave it, you can create it,” and “Make a SCENE!”

Your turn:

Write an obituary that matches the life you WANT to be leading.

Your best life. Your bravest life. Your most creative, expressive, fully activated life.

Read that inspiring obituary back to yourself.

Then ask yourself, Am I on track? Is my life heading in that direction? Mostly? Kind of? Not at all? What types of “navigational shifts” do I need to make in order to fulfill the dreams that are most important to me?

Because that’s how it works: you don’t just get a kick-ass obituary handed to you. You have to earn it. You earn it by taking emotional risks. You earn it by speaking up for yourself. You earn it by taking decisive action instead of being a timid bystander in your own life.

Whatever type of life you crave—whatever type of legacy you want to leave behind—I urge you: make a move and make it happen. Don’t be passive. Don’t wait for “later.” Start re-writing your story today—so that your funeral becomes a celebration of life with everyone praising your name and exclaiming, “Now THAT was a woman who LIVED.”

PS. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably noticed that I’m taking a group of women to Italy in June and July. Wanna come?

PPS. This article was inspired by the “Write Your Obituary” exercise inside The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna. Fabulous book. A must-read.

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