Have you heard the phrase “Start with the end in mind”? If you Google it, you’ll see there are a lot of people who employ the saying or some version of it; there’s even a book with that title. It is used to help people think about life, business and yes, death.

I’ve often wondered why our Western society seems so scared or resistant to talk about death. It’s hard enough to get people to agree on goals or outcomes at the end of a time period. Asking people to contemplate their demise feels dark and sad – it’s more upbeat to play Monday morning quarterback and could have, would have games.

Today, as I write this, I’m about to head to surgery. À la Lindsay Wagner (aka Jamie Sommers), I’m getting a bionic hip. It will all be fine, but I felt compelled to do a bit of contingency planning to make sure that, should I not wake up, I hadn’t left things undone or difficult to figure out. Taking time to contemplate the what ifs, at least for me, made the priorities very clear. I didn’t want anyone struggling to find passwords or important documents or to leave something important unsaid. I created a work document and shared it with the appropriate people so that work could continue without disruption.

Thinking about my end also motivated me to clean out my closet. I wouldn’t want my family to have to sort through a stack of t-shirts from the 90s or all my unmatched socks. Then came the books. I love them, but good grief I don’t know why I keep ALL of them after I’ve read them. So, with a few weeks until the operation, I began to cull and box up the ones I knew I would not read again. It felt great to give them to people and place them in those neighborhood book boxes.

Marie Kondo might not have been impressed, but I made some serious progress and noticed an increased level of relaxation as the clutter diminished. Thinking about what if did not make me sad, but grateful and more aware of the things I would miss. My hope is that if you are reading this, you will:

  1. Take a moment to think about what you’d miss if you weren’t around and appreciate the people, pets and things that bring you joy; and
  2. Consider what you can do without. Box up the things that are taking up too much space or that you haven’t used in years. Give things away, make a donation run and revel in the resulting sense of calm.

Since we don’t know when our end is, why not make choices that bring us joy right now?

– Becky Sharpe, President & CEO