What Sue in accounting will say at your funeral

Waking up at 2am and not being able to go back to bed because you’re worried sick about a work situation = no fun.

I’ve been there. Occasionally, I still go there.

But being stuck in that place over long periods of time is no way to live.

Not only does it take a toll on your own health, but it begins to chip away at the health of your relationships.

I spoke with a friend who is in just such a place.  He’s in a job that carries extra stress with it. The strain is starting to get to him, and he wants to make sure it won’t have any repurcussions in more important areas of his life.

He’s made a decision to consider cutting back and moving into a role that will have less mental and emotional ‘creep’ into other areas in his life.

That’s a tough decision to make – especially if it means taking a step backwards financially or career-wise.  But it makes a lot of sense when you realize your marriage and children and other relational priorities are more important than vocational and financial priorities (we’ll discuss these some other day).

After nailing down our own sustaining priorities (see also previous emails/posts), the next thing to consider is relational priorities.

The problem with relational priorities is similar to the problem with sustaining priorities: They aren’t always urgent. Until they are.  All the sudden, you look up and you hardly know your spouse or kids. Or you all the sudden get a note from the doctor that you’re approaching Type-2 Diabetes or have all kinds of blockage around your heart.

Those voices aren’t the loudest voices until horrible events happen. The loudest voice and the most urgent demand on our time and energy is normally our job and career.

These demands crowd out our relational commitments.  “They’ll understand why I can’t get home on time. They get it that I have to answer this email at 9:30 at night.”

They might. That doesn’t mean they like it. And it doesn’t mean that you’re not making trade-offs you’ll regret some day. We consistently make the decision over and over, time after time, until we’ve built a life that says “Sue in accounting and her email is more important to respond to than you guys are”.

If you’re like me, then your goal is not to have a stream of clients and coworkers speaking at your funeral talking about how awesome you were at promptly responding to their requests and problems.

“Wow… Fred was so generous to take time away from his wife to spend hours of his time fixing our proposal. He was also so great at getting his expense report in on time!,” says Sue in accounting at your funeral.

Nope. That person won’t remember you did that at all.

On the other hand, if your kids remember that you turned work off and gave your full attention to them on a regular, consistent basis, then that is the stuff of a beautiful eulogy. That is how you have a group of grown kids and grandkids gathered around your bed during your final days.

Sorry to go there – the whole eulogy/death thing, but in the end, what do you want to show for your life?

A faint memory by a few people who remember you worked hard and were a prompt responder to emails?

Or do you want a house full of family and friends remembering that they held prime real estate on your priority list?


Go pick up this book if you need help digging through clutter and getting clarity around what are the most important things in your world right now:  Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (affiliate link)

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