I remember in high school a friend’s dad was a reporter at the local newspaper and he had already written his obituary. At that time I didn’t think anything of it. Now, many years later, I’ve had the honor of writing the obituaries of the two closest people in my life and see the wisdom of it.

It is an exercise in literally looking at the where you are with the end in mind. A few reasons to do it:

  1. You gain perspective. What is important? What really matters? What HAS to get done?
  2. You identify what you deliberately want to create that will outlive you. What is your legacy?
  3. You leave out the guesswork so others don’t have to search for the highlights of your life. What’s the ‘who-what-when-where-how-why’ of you? Recently I went to a memorial service for an artist. Her family lived on the other side of the continent. When she died it took several weeks for them to piece together the highlights of her life.

Does pondering “The End” still feel too drastic, sad, or morbid? Here’s an exercise that could get you jumpstarted on writing your obituary. In Chapter Four of The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, you describe yourself at eighty. Then write yourself a letter from you at eighty to your current age. What do you encourage yourself to do?

Your life is like a stream that keeps on flowing. Where is your energy going?