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The Birthday Eulogy

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Anne Hathaway Shakespeare planned a great party for her husband William's 52nd birthday on April 23, 1616. She invited a bunch of his friends: Ben Jonson, John Fletcher, Richard Burbage, John Heminges and even that pain in the butt, Christopher Marlow. But a few hours before the party Mr. Shakespeare failed to wake from his nap and, instead of a party, Anne wound up hosting a funeral. The toasts, roasts and jokes of celebration had to be replaced by a solemn eulogy of remembrance. Maybe Bill wasn't ready for the summary of his life's events so soon...

As a reflection on my own birthday on March 2 I thought I'd share one of the tools that helps me look forward to a powerful and fulfilling year ahead. Leading up to my birthday I imagine the eulogy that would be delivered at my funeral, a kind of "life inventory." How would people sum up my life, my accomplishments, quirks, contributions and, above all, that thing that makes me unique? Then I consider: Is the sum of my overall actions, and in particular those of the past year indicative of how I want to be remembered? Did most of what I wanted to accomplish get done or stay in my head?

What about you? What would your most recent months of activities add up to? What is the evidence that could be presented in your "testimony of life"? Want people to speak of your many qualities? Then plan to display in the next few months the ones you want to be discussed by your black-suited best friend before it's too late (a sense of urgency helps things get done). Just for fun, consider right now the top three values you want others to know you for.

Generosity? Get started right now making some donations to a charity. Maybe spend time working on a project for a local not for profit group. Kindness? This week why not make a special effort to do something for someone else? Or make an ongoing calendar appointment to look for ways to spend time helping those who might need a boost. Want to be called a success? Spend the appropriate time working on what's really important and forwarding for your business to have it thrive and also schedule time for the personal actions that also mean success -- friendships, family, health. Got it?

For myself, looking back on 2014 I can say this has been a good year with a lot of my goals and projects getting done: new clients, new opportunities, a new website (, continued health and fitness -- a goal from 2013 that I'm still keeping up -- and some business and financial milestones accomplished, leaving me in a better place than when I started the year. That's what I planned for and that's what I got.

In 2015 I know I have to look more at how I'm contributing to others and add more of that into my life. I'm selfishly thinking I'd like a crowded funeral, so that means I've got to look for ways to serve more people and help others on a larger scale. So why not get started now, right? If I can help you achieve something in your life please add a note or a comment below or email me directly: But don't wait: I only have 364 days to get in action. That is, as far as I know...

As to William Shakespeare, I think he can rest easy knowing that he had some small impact on the world, don't you?