Deciding now how I want to be able to look back on my life
When I reach the sunset of my life, what do I want to be able to reflect upon?
Few of us want to ponder the end of our lives, but we will all get there someday, and the choices we make now will determine the life we have to look back on.
Of course there will be mistakes along the way. And probably a few regrets. But what about the big picture? What do I want to be able to look back proudly upon as I reflect upon the life I’ve lived?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. It’ll be different for each of us.
But as I think about it now, I find my mind drawn less to what I will have done with my life and more to who I will have become.
I’m not the most driven person. I don’t have to achieve in order to feel satisfied. For some, achievement will be a big part of looking back and feeling proud, and that’s okay.
It’s not that I don’t want to accomplish things with my life. I do. And I have already. But who I am and how I’ve gone about doing what I’ve done with my life will, I think, matter more to me when I look back.
Achievements will come and go, but who I am is who is always there in the midst of whatever I do or don’t achieve along the way.
And so, for me, as I look forward, I want to make sure I prioritise who I am—my character, my integrity—and I want to make sure I’ll be proud of myself.
Attached to all of this will be reflections about how I’ll have used my time. Inevitably some will have been wasted. We’re not going to always get it right. But it seems to me that, when I’m sat on my porch, as an elderly man looking back across my life, I won’t be wishing I’d spent more time at work and less time with those I love. It’ll be the reverse.
I don’t want to wait until I’m eighty to realise that. And I want that to influence the choices I make now.
That’s the thing about an exercise like this. It gives us the chance to make changes before they’re too late.
What changes might your own sunset reflections trigger?
Photo: Logan Adermatt