A short life and a long life

“Just make the most of the time you’ve got left, it’s all you can do” – Offered with much love, this was a common line of advice that came from some of the people around us as they heard about my ALS (mis)diagnosis. Great wisdom of course, yet it also came with a presupposition that the prognosis of a quick demise would play out. My wife and I were dealing in other possibilities though…

Within a few days of being diagnosed, I quickly realised that there’s a difference in mind set between,

  1. Choosing to live well in the short time I had left, and
  2. Choosing to live well with a vision of a longer future

Contained in the language, the first statement accepts that time is going to be short, whilst the second statement builds in the possibility of living longer than my prognosis suggested. Both mind-sets focus on living life well and that’s a good choice to make!

This is where individual choice matters the most. Depending on the challenge you’re facing and how you are feeling, the first statement may simply be the right statement for you. There’s no one mind-set that’s right for everyone, and if in your heart of hearts, living well in the short time your have left is real for you, then work with that and live well.

Personally, I straddled these two mind-sets – or put differently – I edged my bets. On the one hand, if my future was going to be short, I got very clear on what I wanted to do and achieve in that time and then got into action making it happen. Once that was underway, I then actively chose to live life well with a long future in mind. Focusing on living well over a long time reflected a desire to prove the prognosis wrong.

Again, this is a personal choice. I can imagine many situations where it’s right for people accept that their life will soon end, and in that I see great courage and humility. But if that isn’t you, then consider edging your bets – don’t delay living well, get things done but view your future as a long one.

About these strategies

Welcome. These strategies are for people who’ve been diagnosed with a terminal or life threatening illness. If that’s you, I’m sharing them because I know something about what you’re going through, they helped me and so maybe they can help you too.

Click here to learn more about the purpose and background of these posts.