Are you living as if you have an expiry date? Many food products come with an expiry date, you have one too. The problem is most of us have no freaking idea what our expiry date is and we live carelessly. Others approach life as if they are expired, with an air of old, stale, and all used up. If you had the courage to frame everyday in terms of your expiry date, would you make different choices?
Connect your expiry date to your whyI have been posing this question in one form or another to random people since December. The responses are fascinating especially when you ask the question at a business mixer where the folks don't know you. They are expecting a business pitch and whoa, we veer left and I take them over the cliff into uncomfortable territory. It's kind of fun and it sure makes the business mixer more tolerable from my perspective. The question pokes at people's purpose, and at Simon Sinek's Start With Why. It's kind of trendy to talk about your why. But talk is cheap if it doesn't connect to your expiry date.
One individual said the expiry date concept is morbid and too deep; we can't think about it every day. Phooey. When you contemplate your life in terms of your expiry date, you will be motivated to get off your patoot and step into the gap in this world that only you can fill. That's not morbid, that's energizing. Frankly if we think contemplating our expiry date is too deep and we aren't capable, well, sorry I can't throw you a lifeline. There is nothing more elemental than birth, death, and living in between. You do it every day whether you choose to think about it or not. Weighing your choices on the expiry date scale will impact your decision-making. Wrap your head and heart around that; your perspective on the things that matter will shift dramatically.
Beaten and defeatedBe careful you aren't adopting a perspective of too old when you entertain your expiry date. Lately I have been surprised at the young people I run into who are thinking old. They are waiting to check out. It's as if they have decided that the best of life is over; they have no more options. There are no dreams to chase or hills to climb. The litany of aches and pains is transformed into a liturgy to be repeated over and over to anyone with a willing ear. Beaten and defeated is what I hear, and it triggers the grab you and shake you urge in me.
Bar aches and wrinkles from your soulAfter the urge passes and I am safely at home, having avoided shaking anyone, I frequently ask Greg what he thinks about it. I question whether I look old and act old. I challenge him to tell me if I start using old as an excuse for not living. I get that we have extra aches as we age. Wrinkles are a reality, but they are only on my skin. The aches and wrinkles are barred entrance to my soul. As long as I protect that barrier, my spirit will keep living fully until my expiry date is called.
Life's not over until it's over, so quit with the pity party and get over the whoa is me mentality. Face it. Face your expiry date and ask yourself why you are content to give up so early? When did it become okay to coast to the end without contributing to the world you have been placed in? What do you still have to offer that will make your part of the world a better place? Who needs you to be your full self in their life? What do you need to learn? Where are you being called to stretch your wings and use all that experience?
No amount of drama and no Executive Order will change our expiry dates. However, your approach to your expiry date will shape the days you live, so make it worthwhile. Let your expiry date drive you forward and not hold you back. Mary Oliver's poem, The Summer Day, ends with a beautiful challenge...
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"