What Would You Do If You Only Had 21 Days Left to Live?

Seeking a Friend for the End of the WorldBy Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

Before anyone panics, no, I’m not dying in 21 days. (That I know of anyway.)

But that question has been on my mind since I watched Seeking a Friend for the End of the World because in the movie, that’s how long they have before an asteroid destroys the earth. All hope for diverting or breaking up the asteroid has just been lost as the movie opens.

In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, people’s reactions are a lot like you’d expect. There are riots in the streets. Some people start drinking, doing heroine, and engaging in orgies. Some commit suicide. Some keep going about their daily routine like absolutely nothing has changed, showing up for work and cutting their lawns. Some seek to do the things left on their bucket list, make their souls right with God, and reconcile with estranged loved ones.

And it got me wondering what I’d do if I only had 21 days left.

There’s a quote that floats around where some famous author was asked what he would do if he only had a few days left to live, and his answer was, “Write faster.”

That wouldn’t be me.

If I had 21 days left to live, I’d set this computer down and never touch it except to write emails to people I cared about and wouldn’t be able to see in time to tell them how much they meant to me.

I love my job. I love to write. But it’s my career. If I had only a little time left to live, it’s not going to matter if I make enough money to pay the bills for next month. It’s not going to matter if I hit my word count on my novel or finish that next round of edits. If I’m gone, no one is likely to read it anyway. I’m not famous enough that someone else would take over the work involved in publishing my writing.

What’s going to matter to me is getting in as much time with my husband, and family, and friends as possible. Walking my dog and cuddling my cats. I’d eat what I wanted and I wouldn’t exercise 🙂

Thinking about that made me realize something. None of us really knows how long we have. We might only have 21 days. We might have none. Worse, someone we love might have none. Today might be the last day we have with them.

Which means we should be focusing on the important things every day rather than neglecting them for the someday when we’ll have more time. Too often I fall prey to the peer pressure that says to succeed we need to work 10-, 12-, 14-hour days. I don’t believe that, and I’ve made it my goal this year to figure out how to work smarter and make better use of my time. To take back my life.

(In fact, I just finished a fast draft to increase my writing speed. I’ll share more about that in a Wednesday post when we focus on writing.)

I value hard work. Hard work is important to success. But life is more than work. Or at least I believe it should be, no matter how much you love your job.

What would you do if you only had 21 days left to live? Do you think I’m wrong or wrong in my stance on long hours and life-work balance?

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