As I sit with clients to do retirement planning, we are confronted with a few challenges resulting from unknowns. Some of those are things like how much money one will need each month or what rate of return can we achieve on one’s existing investments. But, the most difficult, if not impossible, unknowns to figure out is how long will one live. If we knew the exact date of our client’s death, we could easily divide their savings, along with a reasonable rate of return, by the days he or she will live and make sure there are enough funds to last up to the final day. But, of course, despite our best efforts, it is not possible to know for sure when our times will come.
But still, I couldn’t stop thinking about the concept of knowing that exact date. So, I thought, what if we could know? How might we change the way we lived our lives if we did know when, exactly, we would die? So I imagined a very hypothetical scenario: What if an angel or some other supernatural creature appeared and asked someone if she’d like to know the exact date of her death (bear with me, this story has nothing to do with religion and superstition)? And let’s say this person, let’s call her Jane, said yes.
So an this supernatural, all-knowing being told Jane, who was only 32 years old, that she’d be dead in two years, three months and four days. It took Jane a little time to get over the shock of knowing she’d only live a short time more. But, once she reconciled it in her mind, she decided to live each day the best she could. Jane was always a bit high strung. She would let herself be easily affected by other people’s moods, comments, or actions. But now, since Jane realized her days were numbered, she decided that she wouldn’t let her precious time be ruined by insignificant things. Other people’s bad days or moods were no longer her problem.
During the two year period, Jane had her ups and downs that we all face in our lives. Things like flat tires and lost keys still happened. But, Jane would brush them off and not let one small event permeate throughout her entire day.
Well time went by as it always does and it was the date of her death. It was a tough day for Jane and she waited for her end. She wasn’t sick. She didn’t have a clue as to what would be her demise. She couldn’t go to sleep that night at 11 pm as she usually did. The clock struck midnight on the exact day the angel had named her date of death.
Her relief quickly turned to anger as she called out to the omniscient being to explain why she was still alive and had been given the wrong date. The supernatural creature appeared before Jane and told Jane that the date she was given two years, three months, and four days ago should have been the actual date of her death. But, the being told Jane, that Jane herself had reset the date.
She asked Jane if she remembered arriving at a four way stop near her home yesterday afternoon. The omniscient being told her that she was going to get mad at another driver who went through a stop sign out of turn. Jane was going to honk and yell out at that person. That person had just been fired from their job and was distraught. They had a gun in their car and they would have pulled Jane over and shot her. But, Jane had changed her attitude. From the day Jane was told the date of her death, she no longer let insignificant things affect her. Time was too precious to honk at someone who’d already gone through the stop sign. Getting mad wasn’t going to make any difference, other than upset herself.
Jane was still alive because she changed her attitude. And because she change her attitude, she had altered her destiny. How could your destiny be changed if you changed your attitude? Something pretty interesting to think about, wouldn't you say?