The Last 100 Days Philosophy

My next door neighbor growing up died at age 41 from Follicular Lymphoma (blood cancer). At the time she was diagnosed with cancer, she was exceptionally healthy and active. Her death inspired me to develop “The Last 100 Days Philosophy”.

Imagine you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and were told you had only 100 days to live. What activities would you do? Who would you spend your time with? What would you regret most if you didn't get the opportunity to do? What would give you the greatest satisfaction or joy?

Hopefully, we will all have lots of 100 day periods remaining in our lives. But at some point, we will in fact be living in our last 100 days.  

It's all too easy to relate to life as happening sometime in the future. We say things like:

  • I'll follow my dream of starting my own business... when I am confident I’ll be successful.
  • I'll share my thoughts and express myself fully... when I feel comfortable in front of others.
  • I'll make new friends or get back in touch with old friends... when I have my life together.
  • I’ll welcome people into my house... once it’s neat and clean.
  • I'll make time to do the activities I love… when I retire.

Why do we do this? What’s the logic behind this? It appears instinctive and fear based.  Automatic negative thoughts and feelings are both a defense mechanism and a ready excuse that we use to give ourselves permission to postpone taking risks. I’m not comfortable doing that, so I won’t. Keep in mind, whether you're comfortable with something or not, it's safe to say you’re only going to get one chance. What lifetime are you waiting for to live fully? Waiting to live “someday” is akin to not fully living today.  

Another question: Why do we wait for funerals to eulogize people? What if we had “pre-funerals” and threw enormous eulogy parties and invited everyone we knew?

The eulogy party in my imagination is one giant praise fest. Not only does the person who is pre-dying get praised, but the future deceased gets to praise everyone there as well.  Instead, often said at funerals is: “I know he’d love it if he could just hear the great things people have to say about him…”  But, you know what? We don’t actually have to wait for this “party”. Instead of waiting for someday, we can honor and revere the people in our lives right now. Don’t forget to tell people how great they are.

Adopting the Last 100 Days Philosophy has helped me take action in the face of the automatic thoughts that have previously stopped me.  It has also:

  • Liberated me to be fully self-expressed;
  • Emboldened me to try new things;
  • Gave me permission to look bad;
  • Created a sense of urgency; and
  • Helped me value every moment of life.

For instance, at the beginning of this year, I was afraid to share my writing with others.  I didn’t even want to write privately for fear someday someone might read my writing and think poorly of me. Now I say to myself, if I might only have 100 days to live, why should I care what people think so much? 

My invitation to you: don't wait for your last 100 days to follow your dreams. Work at a job that you love. Travel the world. Get out on the dance floor. Sing Karaoke. Dare to look foolish or bad. Tell the people you care about you love them, are proud of them and that they make a difference for you. Follow your heart.  

But not just that. Embrace your power. Reach out to people. Be vulnerable. Be self-expressed. Be authentic. Stop judging yourself. Stop withholding love. Be generous with yourself and others. Do the best you can and just be proud of yourself no matter what.

 As a bonus, I've included a poem that a friend shared with me several years ago:

Tomorrow, By Edgar Albert Guest

He was going to be all that a mortal should be


No one should be kinder or braver than he


A friend who was troubled and weary he knew,

Who'd be glad of a lift and who needed it, too;

On him he would call and see what he could do


Each morning he stacked up the letters he'd write


And thought of the folks he would fill with delight


It was too bad, indeed, he was busy today,

And hadn't a minute to stop on his way;

More time he would have to give others, he'd say


The greatest of workers this man would have been


The world would have known him, had he ever seen


But the fact is he died and he faded from view,

And all that he left here when living was through

Was a mountain of things he intended to do