Why Not Thinking about It can Hurt

Before you brush me off, you need to hear this! Making major decisions takes careful analysis. Whether we are talking about making living arrangements with a partner, hiring someone for a seat in the business, buying a home, or purchasing a car, taking proper inventory is key for a desired outcome. And you know what tools you need to make it happen. But there's one you easily overlook.

What I'm about to tell you will surprise or frustrate or scare the hell out of you. Or maybe all three, who knows. But first I want to add that in order to write this blog, we want more than theory, right? It's one thing to talk about something serious unless we've "been there, done that". When knowledge joins solid experience, watch out. In reading my website, you know I have both. But below spells out my experience.

I remember as a child walking into a funeral home to pay my respects to a relative. As I was returning from the restroom, I passed through a room where a little girl laid in a casket. I don't remember who I went to pay my respects to that day, but I'll never forget stepping into the ultimate act of impermanence at such a young age.

Little did I know that as an adult I would encounter the same horrific experience firsthand. I've written about this loss in my books, but I'll recap quickly. Anticipating the journey of a new father went very sour one weekday evening when my first child, Elizabeth, was born prematurely at 29-weeks. She died 5-weeks later in early December.

Perhaps coincidence, but probably not, my first career of fifteen years I served as chaplain to hospice patients, young and old alike. I spent eight-hours a day, five sometimes six days a week, visiting patients in their personal home, a nursing or assistant facility, or the hospital. I had thousands, and I mean thousands, of conversations about living and dying with patients. Some talked about what they wished for and either did or didn't get in life, how they would change the past if they could, and why they made the choices they did in the first place.

We make lots of decisions in life. Many, if not most, are done without thinking about the end in mind. And in many cases no harm, no foul. In some key decisions, though, we might have come out better if we had. For instance, by taking inventory using the full spectrum of life, we might have thought twice how we handled a particular relationship, how much money we spent rather than saved, what house or car we purchased, or even how we reasoned to postpone a much needed vacation.

We live in a phobic culture that encourages us to make decisions without taking into account an end in mind. Out of dread we cannot ultimately change, we move through life as if the final chapter of our lives has no bearing whatsoever. But based on my conversations with terminally ill patients, I know we will have regrets and wish we would have made very different decisions.

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