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Monday Moment: The deadline on life

Emma Grey

Someone very dear to me heard that the prognosis for someone very dear to them is four to six months.

Over the last week or so, we’ve had many conversations about time.

What is four to six months in our lives?

What does it really mean? What do we do with it?

Every single day in a timeframe like that matters. And yet, every single day, most of us assume we have a much bigger abundance of time available, when really we have no guarantees. Not a single day of certainty.


  • we settle for ‘good enough’.
  • we settle for worse than that.
  • we waste time.
  • we procrastinate.
  • we put off making a difference, or making a success or ourselves, or doing what we’d love.
  • we stay stuck in jobs we hate and relationships that aren’t working.
  • we accept our health the way it is and hope for the best.

I’m not suggesting that we ought to chase some sort of unrealistic utopia only attractive to people who have been given a set time ‘limit’, but most of us wait in a blasé state for a ‘wake-up call’ that might be far more invasive and cruel than we’re anticipating. Or maybe we’ll live until we’re 100…who can know?

What to do about it…

I don’t think we need to live every single day as though it’s the last day in our lives, even though we all know it could be. That’s unrealistic.

We’re allowed to have days where we do nothing, or not much, and perform below our best in our professional lives or our families. Let’s give ourselves a break.

But, when we do step back and look at the bigger picture…

  • Are we experiencing enough joy?
  • Are we contributing enough?
  • Do we feel significant in some way?
  • Are we growing?
  • Do we feel connection?
  • Do we experience enough variety in our lives?

The blissful thing is that most of us do have enough time. We have enough time to rectify our situations if we need to. We have enough time to squeeze the marrow out of life…the way we imagined it as teens in the 80s or 90s, watching Dead Poets Society and thinking wow, I must be remarkable

But, come on. Must we really be ‘remarkable’? Where’s the measure? What really matters?

Someone crucially close to me has a future eulogy that doesn’t hold any “STOP THE PRESS” moments. Nothing like that. Nothing sensationally wonderful or globally life-changing.

But gosh, she is remarkable in my life. She matters to me. She has transformed my world, over and over again.

A few years ago, when I co-organised our 20 year school reunion people emailed to say they were worried. Worried they hadn’t ‘done enough’.

Against whose measure? Enough for whom?

What really matters?

Last week, I took my four-year-old and my 80+ year old parents to the NASA Space Station at Tidbinbilla. NASA is about 80 days off reaching Pluto. When you REALLY step back, and gain perspective about life on earth, everything changes.

Brendan Burchard, who survived a serious car accident says, “At the end of our lives, will we all ask: Did I live? Did I laugh? Did I matter?”

Did we?

Do we?

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock.


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

  • Nellie Paynter

    Another brilliant article Emma. You have the ability to converse through text the way my girlfriends and I speak when we pour our hearts out to each other. Thank you.

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