Goal Setting: Remember That You Will Die


Art: Godfred

Memento Mori

Memento mori (Latin: “remember that you can die”[2]) is the medieval Latin theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.

-From Wikipedia

Nothing motivates me more than time. Or rather, the lack of time I have remaining. For many, the idea of mortality is a known but abstract idea that sneaks into their head occasionally on sleepless nights. For me, it’s been like a neon sign in my peripheral vision for the last 10 years (since my initial cancer diagnosis). This drives my goals and motivations for getting as good as I can, as quickly as I can, while I can. I’m thankful for that perspective.

When I see my friends squander their time and push off goals and dreams, I give them some homework to correct their course. I want them to have a visual representation of their life, of time passing, and allow that to motivate them as it may.

I’m ripping-off BarefootFTS and their excellent post about this topic.

The idea is simple…

It’s 52 blocks wide and 80 blocks tall. On the top left corner is my birthdate, and on the bottom right is the same date, 80 years later. Every week I mark off a block.

I don’t write anything or make any kind of notes. I just black it out. The only thing left is the memories I have of that week and reality of how it has affected my life. In the end, the only things any of us have are our actions and our memories.

32 years old. My actual chart is on my wall

You should fill this out for yourself. It might be uncomfortable. It might give you a knot in your stomach. Good. Fill it out by hand. Each week should get your reflection. You will be forced to notice time passing. Whether you make the time useful is up to you.

The takeaway is this: Don’t mourn the shaded area. Instead, see the potential in the space remaining. Live your life with a sense of urgency. Do Epic Shit.

Here’s a link to a Dropbox PDF to use.

Edit 1/7/16 Here’s a link to the Memento Mori – Do The Work silicone bracelets I had made right after I wrote this post. I hope it helps me remember and keeps me on track when I’m feeling weak.



7 thoughts on “Goal Setting: Remember That You Will Die”

  1. I have a “Catholic Prayer Book for the Marine Corps” from World War II. It has “A Rule of Life for Soldier” which is a list of daily actions. The last and most telling is “Remember it is appointed for you once to die. Pray that you may die worthily.”

    Memento Mori. Nice.

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