Writing obituaries is hard work, and most people do not enjoy the process. Writing an obituary is like facing death and facing the finiteness of life, also of your own life. In the process of writing you experience a wide range of emotions, ranging from grief over a loss to the warm smiles of fond memories. It also helps us put life back in perspective, let’s us focus on what’s truly important and what might not be.
This is why writing an obituary for yourself is a very powerful exercise to help you focus on those important things. Stephen Covey asks you to do this exercise in his record-selling book “The 7 habits of highly effective people“, and I’ve added a much more detailed version in my ebook “Personal Core Values“. We want you to focus on the important aspects of your life, and facing the end and looking back on your life is a powerful visualization to help you do that.
The results of this exercise may be that you change some aspects of your life, sometimes just a little and sometimes dramatically. Roz Savage is a woman that shows how this exercise can cause dramatic changes for the better. In the TED video below she tells about how she did this exercise and what the results are.
She used a variation to the obituary exercise that I really like. Instead of only writing the obituary of your life as you envision it, she also wrote the obituary of the life she was currently leading. By doing both of them you’ll get a very clear vision of the difference between them. Roz discovered that she was on the wrong path, and she turned her life around and rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean.