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Jan 9, 201911:58 PM Live Well, Work Well

with Debra Lafler

In business and life, resolve to live like you're dying

(page 2 of 2)

Use dying lessons for yourself

We can use these regrets to assess our lives, and ourselves and to help us decide about our plans for the future. From the five regrets of the dying, we can think of the following five themes and related questions:

  1. Be uniquely you: Is there anything you’d like to do or be, that you haven’t allowed yourself due to fear of what others might think, expectations, or social norms? Do you have a passion that you’ve been procrastinating or ignoring? Do you want to express yourself in a way that you haven’t yet? Do you want to create or explore or try something you’ve never tried? Or is there something (or many things) that you can let go of (stop being or stop doing) that are not you?
  2. Balance work and life: Is your work-life balance okay? Are you taking breaks and lunch? Are you taking vacation time? Can you let go of the stress of work? If work is too stressful (or not aligned with who you are), can you make any changes to help yourself?
  3. Express yourself: Is there anyone you can say (or write) “I love you,” or “thank you,” or “you’ve taught me so much,” or “because of you I,” or even “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” to? What words would bring love or peace to you or others? Equally, is there someone you need to stand up to, separate yourself from, express your boundaries with, or say “goodbye” to? What do you need to provide you with more peace?
  4. Connect: Is there anyone you’ve lost touch with who you’d like to reconnect with? Is there anyone in your life currently that you’d like to spend more quality time with? Can you choose to connect casually with others during your day that you would normally pass by or not stop to spend time with (e.g., say hello, give a compliment, ask how someone is, listen, share, show compassion, smile, hug, give encouragement, etc.)?
  5. Let go: What worries, fears, anxieties, or frustrations can you let go of? What can you notice that would bring your joy, peace, love, and a sense of appreciation?

Using dying lessons for work

Interestingly, businesses can do this, too. Even though a business is not a person, we can consider the company as an identity.

  1. Be uniquely you: What is the company’s identity? Who are you? What do you stand for? Are you being true to that? Have you been courageous with who you want to be and how you want to be different from your competitors?
  2. Balance work-life: What is the stress level at the company? What is the workload? Is work-life balance a value, and is it encouraged and supported? What about work and play while at work? Is the workplace also fun? What is the atmosphere like at work? Is everyone in back-to-back meetings, or is there room to breathe, take a break, or connect with others?
  3. Express yourself: How open, vulnerable, and honest are communications? Does the company value communication, both from management to staff and staff to management? Are there things left unsaid? Is it safe to speak out or speak up? Are employees seen, heard, and valued? What hasn’t been said that could be said?
  4. Connect: How are relationships at work? Positive or negative? Collaborative or competitive? What could you do to help employees connect, share, and work together better?
  5. Let go: What does the company focus on? Positives or negatives? What things can be let go of? What could the company do to bring more joy to the workplace?

Write your own obituary and eulogy

One more exercise that is powerful to help you with your direction is writing your own obituary and/or eulogy. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s really life changing.

For you personally, think about it this way: What would people know about you, say about you, and love about you? What would they say you were passionate about? What would they say you provided, gave, created, or helped with? What would make them laugh or cry with appreciation that they experienced with you? If you were leaving a personal legacy, what would it be?

If you are thinking about this for your company, consider if your company dissolved one day, what would your company’s obituary say (if there was such a thing)? If someone were to write or speak about it, what would they express? Who was the company? What did the company represent or stand for? What did it do or give? What did it accomplish? How did it help people like employees, customers, and the community?

Live like you were dying

This blog post isn’t meant to be morbid. It’s meant to be inspiring. It’s meant to help you create meaningful New Year’s resolutions for yourself and your company. It’s meant to wake you up to stop doing things just because you think you should, or to “keep up with the Joneses,” or to check boxes.

Life is short, and sometimes it’s taken from us sooner than we expected (our own life or a loved one’s). I’ll leave you with this one final question: How would you live differently if you knew this was your last year?

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About This Blog

Debra Lafler is a Madison-based wellness consultant, coach, and speaker with over 20 years of experience in the field. She currently works as the employee wellness and employee assistance program manager for the Wisconsin State Department of Health Services, and as an adjunct instructor for the University of Wisconsin’s Health and Wellness Management program. She also is available privately to hire as a business consultant, personal coach, or motivational speaker. Debra has a doctorate degree in Divinity & Spiritual Studies from Emerson Theological Institute; a master’s degree in Health & Behavior Studies specializing in Health Education from Columbia University; a bachelor’s degree in Communication, with certificates in Wellness and Coaching from The University of Wisconsin—Parkside; and certificates in Worksite Wellness, Holistic Stress Management, Grief Support, and Yoga. She can be reached at or



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