Write Your Own Obituary to Focus and Improve Your Time Management

I woke up on a Monday totally overwhelmed.

As an avid bullet journaler, I was reviewing my goals, objectives and commitments for the week, the month and the quarter, which I typically do each Monday morning. I quickly realized there was no organizational strategy on earth that was going to help me execute what was on my plate. I had stretched myself far too thin. To think I was going to succeed at accomplishing this list was to live in a fantasy world of unicorns and rainbows. Something had to give, or rather a few things had to give. But what? 

This all quickly escalated into an existential question. By saying no to things, I was saying no to possible futures of who I could be. Each club, board and business venture I was invested in represented a possible version of myself. If I chose to give it up, I was essentially closing the door on that identity. Was I ready to give up “political me,” “ gal pal me,” or that particular “business venture me”? I wasn’t.

The problem was that if I didn’t choose and focus, I would end up being mediocre at all of the versions. Also, if I wasn’t deliberate then the squeaky wheel would get the grease and the board, club or venture that was the loudest, sent me the most emails or had the most drama would get my time and attention. My time and attention would be decided by the world instead of by me. Was I willing to relinquish the destiny of my one chance on this planet to others based on how many text messages they sent me? That didn’t sound wise. 

Monday Adventures: My Own Obituary Writing

I decided the best way to fix my problem with being over-committed and overwhelmed was to write my obituary. Because I am middle-aged, the decisions I make now on how I spend my time have a profound impact on my legacy. What did I want that to look like? What was good enough? What was most important? Which of these commitments could turn into something obituary-worthy? These were the profound questions this exercise led me to contemplate. 

Writing your own Obituary…

Eventually, the exercise and the contemplation that went into writing it helped me to decide, deliberately, which versions of myself to release. Doors would be closed. But then I could succeed in the areas that I valued the most and which were best aligned with my skills, abilities, and talents. 

I won’t share with you the actual obituary because I want to retain flexibility with it. As time moves forward, I may change it and I am okay with that. But doing the exercise got me to distill my commitments in this present moment down to what truly is important and get rid of the noise in my life. I will tell you, it also profoundly impacted my decision-making process, which will change the commitments I make in the future.

The Value in Seeing the Bigger Picture by writing your own Obituary

I know this isn’t a typical investment property management related blog post, but I think this is relevant to the role because as asset managers our job is to help our clients maximize their assets’ value so they can meet their life’s objectives and priorities. If we distill our job down to its essential elements, we are in the business of helping property owners build their legacy. So it is worth asking them as well as ourselves, what is the legacy you want to leave? Additionally, when they are having a hard time letting go of the day to day management of their investment property it is worth considering, is micromanaging this asset the best way for you, client, to spend your time especially since you hired us to do this work? Maybe helping our clients clarify their legacy goals can help them and property managers figure out the best way to work together.

Writing my own obituary was the best way for me to drill down to my core goals. What is the best way you have found to clarify your objectives? Have you found existential questions like this helpful as you consult with your clients? I would love to hear from others how they have used the topic of leaving a legacy to help their clients and themselves get closer to their best life.

Gwenn Aspen
President of Anequim