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.

Recent Posts in How To Do Life

Addressing the Fear of Becoming Irrelevant

A worry that's common among older people.

Stories of Seclusion: Afraid He'd Lose His Temper, He Hid

Injustice, especially if it could cost your livelihood, can cause great anger.

Stories of Seclusion: After Winning the Lottery

The drive to be creative can know no bounds.

Stories of Seclusion: Embarassed into Isolation

The price of an affair can be great indeed.

Stories of Seclusion: An Immigrant Shocked at Her Workplace

How a too laid-back workplace drove a woman to drink: tea.

Stories of Seclusion: A Child Who Couldn't Resist the Swamp

Hasn't every child wondered what it woulld be like to leave home for the wilds?