What would you do if you had one year to live?

It may be a tad morbid talking about death, but it is a reality that we cannot escape. There is so much unease talking about it. And it has become one of the last social taboos – certainly not a topic to discuss in social settings, you may think. So it can sometimes become easy to forget that one day we will not be here. That we are not immortal and one day our time will be up.


Time is such a valuable commodity

Time is one of the most valuable commodities. One that we may not appreciate. So we go along with our day, minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour. Like the egg timer, the grains of time continue to flow. We may lose track of what we are doing with our time. And it is usually when a major event occurs, such as hearing the news of a death, that we get jolted into the actual reality that we are gradually dying. So we really need to make each moment count. Assess where we are and question if there is another we would like to be. The destination could be how we want to be feeling, or even what we want to experience now.


One technique that we can use, even as a life motto, is the question, “If I had one year to live, what would I do?” This can also be used as a benchmark.

Why should we act like we have one year to live?

It can help us to get clear on what it is that we want to do, instead of overthinking and getting into the dangerous territory of what we think we should be doing. So often we can be influenced by our outside world. This may be picking up on the latest fads – what is being advertised of we are lacking in. Then there are the people around us who may have limiting beliefs picked up from bad experiences or from their fears. Talking about the “F” word, “fear” is one of the most common ailments that stops people from pursuing their goals.


What was the inspirer of death

Death is part of the duality of life. It just is. As time goes by, we will be saying a temporary goodbye to a close one in this plane.


Interlude – My story – first person

My very first experience with death was when I was at primary school, in between the ages of 5 and 7, when I saw that my father was sad. He had been informed of his beloved mother’s death [my grandmother], who I did not know too well since she lived in the Caribbean and I saw her mostly when I was a baby. Although I did not fully appreciate the concept of death, I knew it left people with sadness. Feeling that they were alone, as I could recall the very words to my day, which were, “Don’t be sad Daddy. I will look after you.” Instinctively, I knew how people needed support, knowing that they were not alone. Fast forward to adulthood. In my early twenties, I experienced how it was to lose a parent. It was my father who had passed. I did get the prior warning that this was to come. In the lucid conversations, as my dad was resting, he would tell me that “I had a good life,” an important message that will keep me focused.


Reality jolts

Death can be expressed in a news headline and on a social media platform. We will usually remember the time and the place when we hear the news. At that moment, after getting over the initial shock, the usual suspect questions will pop up. “What am I really doing with my life now?” “Am I happy?” “What is it that I really want?” And there is really no point on blasting out just visions, goals, and dreams, as they too will soon fade away with time. It is at this time that we need to make a commitment to ourselves, one that you vow to make reality.


Interlude – My vow to myself – first person

It was last year around my birthday that I had a reality jolt. That on my next birthday I would reach a milestone, and I could no longer put things off. I was reminded of this two weeks later, whilst walking in my great City London. It was a sunny and beautiful day. We were still in midst of heat wave. Despite this, I was not truly happy with where I was. I had a year where my once-booming business had gone downhill. Although I had made a big effort to secure a large project that would allow me to relocate back to my former home, it was just not happening. In the midst of this, I was trying to support another person with their woes. To that extent, I stopped prioritising myself. I later described 2018 as the year I put my life on pause. I knew in that place whilst walking along London’s Regent Street, that I did not want to continue on this path. Screw being in a rut! I was going to live a juicy and rich life. Have the “good life” as my late father wanted me to have.

Do not be too surprised that three weeks later after making that vow, I went from not having a car to having my own convertible sports car. It is amazing what a shift in thinking can do.

The day I got my convertible

It was not all about driving a race car, but a way of life. This year’s vow was to live this year, as if I only had one year to live.


How to live this year as you had one year to live, in 10 steps

Before we begin this journey, it is not about taking unjustified risks. You should always practise some form of risk assessment. So please do not go climbing mountains without assessing risks, or factoring the tools and resources you need, in order to enjoy your journey and be safe.


  1. Mindset matters – You may have heard this record being played, about how it is the 20% of action that makes things into reality. If you believe this rule of thought, then you should concur that it is easy to make things reality. Secondly, you need to be working on the 80% – the mental element.
  2. Screw the scientific/business approach – Pardon my crudeness here. I do like reading the science behind things and the recommended practices, having been a scholar and teacher. But the reality is that we are beings with feelings. Far more complex than a statistic, or a finding in a book. So we need to approach our goals factoring in our individuality.
  3. Be Honest – This is accepting who we are. Not trying to find who we are from looking on the outside – accepting that “I am.” You are not broken but perfect in your It is only from this place that we can address what it is that we want.
  4. Core Values – One tool to help you understand yourself better is to look at what your core values are. You can start by writing a list of words that encompass who you are. Start with 20 and then reduce it to three. You can do this by a process of ranking the words. [Please see the video link that gives a clear demonstration of this] My core values are connection, adventure, autonomy, play and flow.
  5. What’s stopping you? – The answer is “you.” We need to look at what prevents us from following through on making goals a reality. The two popular theme words beginning with the letter “F” are FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real] and failure. Fear and failure can be influenced not only by your experience but other people’s. Sometimes you may need to play the game of “Whose story is this?” followed by the game “Is this story true?” Once you get to the root of the myths that are blocking you, then you can take action in turning your ideas into reality. Get into the GoGetter
  6. Do what makes you happy – Construct a list of what you want to do in a year, and focus on things that will make you happy.
  7. Create another list – write about experiences. We remember more how things make us feel. Write a list of up to 40 things that you like to experience. You will find as you do this, more ideas will start to flow. Then go back to step 4, your core values, and whittle down the list to 10, and then finally down to four goals. The other remaining six goals, will be extra bonuses to achieve during the year.
  8. Get a good support structure – This will consist of people who will be honest with you and cheer you on. Perhaps join a FaceBook group linked to an interest that you would like to pursue. Make use of the resources that you have out there. Again this will involve asking people for help, asking people who are experts in a field to answer questions. For example, ask someone how they raised enough money to travel around the world.
  9. Ease into starting something new – One of the reasons people may fail at going for things, despite starting off with good intentions, is the way in which they orchestrate their plan. This is taking off big chunks at a time, or not being realistic or kind to themselves. We always need to take care of our wellbeing, both our body and emotional wellbeing.
  10. Believe in You. Believe that you can do it. Anything you dream can become a reality.


My parting bonus tip goes back to what my father shared with me whilst he was dying: A reminder than you should enjoy your life. So go live life. Make it a juicy and rich one.


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