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Life Lessons from a Memorial

Life Lessons from a Memorial

When you attend a memorial do you take the opportunity to learn from a family member’s, friend’s, or even a stranger’s passing?

Recently I attended a memorial for a man I’d never met. He was the husband of a co-worker of my husband; neither of us had met him but we wanted to be there to support her through this rough time.

I am no stranger to funerals or memorials: I’ve been to many to celebrate the life of someone who passed, including my own Mother’s passing 13 years ago. Via this event and others I’ve found many life lessons work learning.

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Life Lesson #1: If your “stuff” is causing you stress, clean house!

News of this man’s passing came on a day when we were preparing for a garage sale. I was overwhelmed by all the stuff in the garage, which looked as though an explosion had happened inside it, and I felt my husband wasn’t spending his time wisely as he built shelving in rather than get sale items ready.

When I saw the email about this man’s death—and the memorial arrangements for a man who was only 49, had two kids and a wonderful wife—it brought clear focus into was really important. I apologized to my husband and told him if our “stuff”  was causing stress and unhappiness we needed to get rid of more of it (ruthlessly).

What to do: Is your stuff causing stress in your life? If so, it’s time to clean house. This will allow you to focus on what is truly important by getting rid of the stuff that you really don’t need.

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Life Lesson #2: Make Time for Major Life Events

The memorial was scheduled for the day that we were actually to participate in that neighborhood garage sale. We had been looking forward to this for a year and had a lot of stuff to let go, but there was no question that we were going to the memorial and not participating in the sale. The passing of someone brings into sharp clarity that our relationships with others is ultimately what is most important.

When my mother passed, I was grateful for the many people who came to the funeral, sent cards, flowers, food and were there for us. My father said that the event had showed him how important it was to make it to birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and funerals himself. He resolved to attend more of these events in the future.

What to do: Have you attended important events from family and friends, or do you find life getting in the way? Make these events a priority in your life.

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Life Lesson #3: Learn from Another’s Life

While I never met this man, I was very touched by his memorial and the love that poured out from so many during the event. He was a man who built deep and lasting friendships, who gave much of himself and loved to travel off the beaten path. I am sure he had no regrets and had a very loving tribe around him.

What to do: What do you most admire when you take a moment to appreciate the lives of those you have lost? Take a moment to write down 3 things about each person you’ve lost.

Life Lesson #4: Take Time to Re-assess

Events like this make you stop and reassess your life. Are your priorities in the right place? At the time of our passing no-one is going to care what kind of car we drove, how much money we made, or how many extra hours we put in. What matters is the friendships and family we have, how we chose to help others, and the type of person we were. I certainly stopped to re-asess if my priorities were in line. Thankfully they are close. I still have areas that I struggle with and I find it beneficial to look at how I am spending my time occasionally to be sure it is spent where is most valuable to me.

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Ultimately, attending someone’s memorial makes us appreciate life even more. We are all gifted with a finite number hours in this lifetime, and I hope to use mine as wisely as this man did.

What to do: What would you like to be remembered by? Make a list of 5 things you want others to remember when they attend your memorial. Now look at the list you wrote for life lesson #3. Would you like to be remembered for some of those things? If so, add them to your list. Are you living your life in such a way that you will be remembered for the items of your list? If not how can you adjust your priorities and the way you spend your time?

The time is now to start living the life you want to be remembered for.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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