How To Do Life

Fresh ideas about career and personal issues

A Deathbed Exercise

A tool for evaluating your life

I’ve seen various versions of the deathbed exercise, all aimed at getting you to evaluate your life.

I find some versions to be too bare-bones, others too prescriptive, for example, pushing you to spend more time on relationships and less on work. So here’s my attempt to create a happy medium:

Imagine you’re on your deathbed.

1. You’re reviewing your life.

What are you glad and sad about your worklife?

Your relationships?

Your charitable efforts?

Your hobbies?

Does any of that make you want to make any changes now?

2. Imagine that the person who knows you best is by your bedside.  

What might that person say to you if s/he were honest?

What would you say to that person?

What would you ask that person?

Does that make you want to change anything about how you’re living your life?

3. What would you last wish be? Could you get that now or soon?

So now, having completed this exercise, is there anything you want to do differently?

Marty Nemko was named “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and he enjoys a 96 percent client-satisfaction rate. In addition to his articles here on PsychologyToday.com, many more of Marty Nemko's writings are archived on www.martynemko.com. Of Nemko's seven books, the most relevant to readers of this blog is How to Do Life: What They Didn’t Teach You in School. His bio is on Wikipedia.

Marty Nemko is a career and personal coach based in Oakland, Ca. and the author of 7 books. 
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