My Grandfather passed away on February 28, 2018. His tombstone simply reads, “Ben House: 1935-2018. Here lies a man.”
A couple of weeks ago, a member of my community suddenly died. The man was only 50, and he dropped dead in his office, shortly after lunch. There were no warning signs or significant health concerns. He left behind a partner and two children.
I think the saddest part of this story is that his obituary started with this headline, “John Long, 50, an Accountant.”
My grandfather’s tombstone and John Long’s obituary both made me pause and consider who I really am. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit, considering what my own obituary might say.
How will my tombstone encapsulate my life?
What about you?
If those options are too morbid for you, how would you describe the essence of who you are in just a tweet?
I’ll tell you this, I don’t want my obituary to say, “Steve Austin, 80, an Interpreter.”
I hope mine will mention how a second chance saved my life. I want people to know what a dedicated family man I am; how, even in the midst of an imperfect life, my wife and I have created a marriage and a home some only dream about.
At my funeral, will my friends and colleagues talk about how I served the underdog, embraced the outcast, helped hurting hearts heal, and led overwhelmed people on the sacred journey from chaos to calm? I wonder if my kids will mention how much I love to study history and play the piano.
There might even be Deaf people at my funeral, in need of an interpreter. My point is not to discount my day job – I know it’s unique and a gift and has supported my family for more than a decade. My point is to say that I am much more than only a sign language interpreter.
But this story really isn’t about me. The big question is: who are you?
If that’s too hard to answer right this moment, maybe start with this one: where are you?
Have you ever walked into a new shopping mall only to be overwhelmed with the size and selection? Usually, right near the entrance, you will find a map that says “you are here.” Once you get a lay of the land, you can compare where you are to where you want to go.
Whether it is a mall or any other destination in life, it is vitally important to know EXACTLY where you are.
Allow you to appreciate what you are doing well and feel successful.
Allow you to be motivated by the things you are unsatisfied with.
You need to know exactly where you are today at all levels of life. Take some time now, to write down:
For the results you are happy with, write down why you are happy.
For the results you are unhappy with, write down why you are unhappy.
If you type a destination into Google Maps but fail to enter a starting point, you aren’t going to get very far. Without a starting point, the results would show you a map of the town you’d like to visit, but you’d never get any instructions on how to actually get there.
You have to know where you are before you can begin mapping out a plan for getting to the next destination. If you’re tired of spinning your wheels, it’s time to get clear on where you are. This is deeply personal work, but the results will change your life.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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Life is hard, and then you die.