Think About How You Want to Die
A drastic, yet useful, stoic technique to help you focus on living your life — your way
Since I was lucky to work in various different fields, from engineering to design and marketing, I realized there is something that all of them share.
What unifies all of them is that the best way to excel at these disciplines is to start with the end goal in sight. Meaning, for example, when you are programming a piece of code you first need to understand what is the current problem that the existing code has. When designing, you need to understand business goals and user goals to be able to design the optimal solution. And when doing marketing work, it’s important to first set the objectives and key indicators to be able to implement the plan and enjoy the results.
So why don’t we do the same thing with life?
To live the one and only, the life that we have been given on this planet Earth, the life that has provided us with limited time of existence, why do we focus only on the now and near future?
What will happen when the end comes? Will we look at all these years as being happy about the choices we made? Will we like how we chose to pass our time through all the years? Or we will think that changes that we could have made in our life would greatly impact our happiness and contentedness with our own lives?
So why don’t we do this… Start thinking about the end of your life now…
- How would you like to die?
- What would you like to fulfill by the time your end comes?
- Where would you be?
- What circumstances would you prefer to die in?
Yes, I know… It sounds crazy to think in this way... but you will receive very valuable insights from it!
So, once you did the above, once you have visualized the ideal state at the end of your life, now it’s the time to think about how to achieve that state you just visualized.
- Which steps should you take to get there?
- Which actions should you do?
- Which things you should focus on and which should you avoid doing? How should you spend time?
- And most importantly, how to enjoy yourself while doing all of this?
The goal is to grow as a person by learning what is really important to us by having an end in sight and setting us in an emotionally extreme situation. Each person has different aspirations and often we are not even aware of them until we become more self-conscious.
Research shows that people going through a near-death experience often have insights that lead them to positive life-changing effects. And through this technique, you are doing a life-hack by just briefly visualizing a similar event to trigger powerful insights. Historically, memento mori (Latin for “remember that you have to die”) was a concept that for centuries reminded people about the inevitability of death to help them focus on the important things.
Be sure to write down all of your thoughts now while doing this technique so that you can look back at the findings afterward, as you might forget these important conclusions in a few days.
Of course, it’s not the goal to go through your life by only focusing to reach these identified goals. But the purpose of this quick technique is to discover yourself and your aspirations and to stop being dragged around by focusing only on short-term goals.
The learnings that you receive now shouldn’t set your plans in stone, so repeat this exercise yearly to re-think your previous conclusions and make adaptions throughout your life.
All right, that’s all about it. Carpe diem et memento mori!