How will your life be measured? Here’s what matters most

How will your life be measured

How will your life be measured? A philosophical question perhaps but an interesting one nevertheless.

Some time ago, I attended the funeral of someone whom I’d known quite well professionally but not at all socially. Someone I liked and respected but I wouldn’t claim to have known them well. Nevertheless funerals are a time to reflect on someone’s life. A time to consider the impact they’ve had on other people throughout their lives.

The funeral service was held at a large, traditional church in London and it was absolutely crowded.

Listening to the eulogy and associated readings I began to appreciate just how much my late colleague had meant to so many people. It’s fair to say that she meant a lot to people. The lives of so many people had clearly been blessed by her presence in them.

This experience really made me think.

So in life, what really matters most?

As human beings we’re all driven to achieve and leave our mark on life before we pass on.

However we do tend to measure our impact on life in terms of careers and money. With those things it’s fairly easy to keep score, wouldn’t you agree dear reader?

Obviously careers provide tangible evidence of achievement, or so it seems.

So climbing the greasy pole and increasing our wealth tend to be the measures we use when we consider the idea of success. Nevertheless as I sat listening that day I had to ask myself, are these things the most appropriate measure of the lives we lead?

Anything we do that only has a long-term payoff we tend not to measure because there’s no immediate evidence of achievement. We can’t see the immediate impact of the small things we do, so we don’t believe they matter much.

However I realised that day that they do matter. In fact they matter a great deal.

It’s all in the little things we do:

A random act of kindness might not mean much to us but to the recipient of our action it could mean the world. It could have had a profound effect on that individual. And it might prove to be a life-changing experience for that person.

So, how will any of us be remembered?

When our lives have passed, how will they talk about us at our funerals?

People won’t talk about the size of our house or our car but they will talk about how we made them feel. They won’t talk about the importance of our jobs but they will mention how we helped them at a difficult time in their lives.

Perhaps they’ll talk about how we mentored them and how they’re a better person because of the impact we had on their lives. Maybe they’ll say they enjoyed our company and they’ll talk about how they looked forward to seeing us whenever we were around. Perhaps they’ll just mention how we made them smile.

When you think about it, why would we want to be remembered in any other way?

Material possessions are meaningless:

Let’s face it material possessions are meaningless. Equally successful careers are as much a reflection of good fortune as they are of anything we actually did to justify them.

That’s not the case when it comes to the impact we have on the lives of others.

The help we give; the kindness we show; that’s all down to us and our own actions day-to-day.

So how many people we’ve helped seems to me like a much better measure of success than the size of the car we drive or the size of the house in which we live.

Real success in life comes down to the difference we make. How we’ve touched the lives of other people.

Certainly that’s how I think we’ll be remembered by those who knew us, however much we’re focused on careers, money and material possessions.

How great would it be to be remembered fondly and with respect by all who crossed our paths during our lives?

How will your life be measured?

I remembered my thoughts that day at the funeral when I stumbled upon this video of a presentation given by Clay Christensen at TEDxBoston.

It offers a great perspective on how your life will be measured.

I recommend you watch this video as it’s well worth a little bit of your time.

And after you’ve watched it, I would suggest you reflect on this question, “Should the measure of our lives be just about money and achievement or should it be more about the lives we’ve touched and the people whose lives are better for us having been in them?”

How do you want to be remembered dear reader?

For me life’s measure should be in terms of how I’ve touched the lives of other people and not money, career and the size of my house.

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