Seven years ago I wrote my obituary. Now stay with me here. This isn’t a morbid story, I promise. Here are some of the highlights.
“Barbara Wasserman was born Jan 16, 1958 and died September 18, 2048. Barbara was a devoted wife and helicopter mother. Her family meant everything to her. The highlights of her days included watching her daughters play soccer, stalking their Facebook pages, and living vicariously through their adventures. Barbara led a very predictable and safe life. She lived in her Needham home for over 50 years, volunteered peripherally for the same organizations year after year, and was a 40-year member of the same book club. Barbara took pride in her 50+ year’s working as a partner at a psychotherapy practice. She enjoyed playing mah-jongg, going on her yearly family trip to Aruba, stalking her grandchildren on Facebook, going out to eat, and spending time with her family. In lieu of flowers donations can be sent to the charity of your choice.”
I remember feeling somewhat dissatisfied when I finished and read back through what I had written. Sure, it was a perfectly fine obituary. But, I knew that it was not complete, that some key pieces were missing. I had put my heart and soul into my marriage and parenting my children. I knew they loved and appreciated me, that I had impacted them greatly, and that I would live on in them. I was proud of myself. But what impact had I made outside of parenting? Similarly, I knew that I was a good therapist, but did I feel called to share my wisdom and experience with larger groups of women? Was I satisfied with the way that I had given of myself to my community, to the planet?
I also noticed that I had not honored the adventurous side of me. Did I want to see more of the world? Did I want to challenge my mind and my body to do more? The answers: yes and yes. So, guess what I did? I rewrote my obituary. Here is the revised version:
“Barbara Wasserman was born January 16, 1958 and died September 18, 2053. (Note the extra five years…) Barbara was a best-selling author, motivational speaker, champion of midlife women, and devoted wife and mother. Her books “Notes to My 50 Year Old Self,” “Beginners Guide to Giving Back,” “Sixty Adventures for Your 60s,” and “Volunteering With Grandma” inspired millions of mid-lifers and older to create exciting and fulfilling lives. Barbara was an avid traveler, leading over 100 retreats, service, and adventure trips throughout the world. Barbara’s Ted Talk “Volunteering with Grandma,” focused on the organization she founded that creates service trips for grandparents and grandchildren, gained national recognition. Barbara loved cycling, golfing, and hiking with family and friends. Barbara loved surrounding herself with, and connecting, interesting people. Her monthly “Interesting Women” dinner parties connected thousands of women to one another over the years. Barbara died the way she lived, while leading a Safari for 80 plus year old women in South Africa. In lieu of flowers donations can be sent to “Volunteering with Grandma.”
Now you might think that I went a little over the top with my new and improved obituary. But the bigger we dream, the more possibilities we create. Over the past seven years I have achieved some of the things I dreamed in my “New and Improved” Obituary, as well as some new dreams. My children now say that I am too busy living my own life to stalk them on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, they are still the center of my universe, but I now see a much bigger universe.
So how about you? What do you WANT your obituary to say?
Start by writing your current obituary. Then ask yourself these five questions:
- What is missing?
- What don’t I like?
- What am I proud of?
- What surprised me?
- What direction is it heading in?
- What direction do I want it to take over the next 10, 20, 30+ years?
Now go back and write your “New and Improved” version. Take some time to write it. Dare to dream big. Bring your best, bravest self to the table. Then ask yourself: How am I doing? Am I on track? What can I do differently? What are some small steps that I can do right now?
The first step is to sign up to discover “Your Next Purpose” at my workshop at the upcoming SHE DID IT Conference at Babson College, Needham, MA on May 17, 2017. At this 90 minute workshop, you will learn to discover, create and implement what comes next. Sign up HERE for SHE DID IT/Boston at Babson College!
The next step is to spend three days at a beautiful Vermont Inn with other midlife women who are rewriting their next act. There are limited spots available for “Midlife Reinvention, Writing Your Next Chapter” 3-day retreat. Get the details HERE.