If tomorrow was your last day on Earth, what would you do?

Think about this for a minute.

Those things you listed off in your head, how many of them are you doing each day?

Often what comes to mind when we are asked this question is very different to the reality of how we go about our daily lives. And unfortunately it is often too late before we realise this. Death is the only thing guaranteed in life after birth. Yet sadly, when people get to their final days, more often than not, they are full of regrets.

Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, knows this all too well. Based on her interactions, Ware has written a book on the top regrets of the dying and there are no surprises that it includes; not doing what they wanted to, working too hard and not spending time where it mattered most – with friends and family.

This happens because many of us get caught up spending our lives doing what others expect us to do and we don’t have the courage to live a life that is true to ourselves.

So how can you make the most of life whilst you have it? Aristotle believed that true happiness is achieved by leading a virtuous life and doing what is worth doing.

In another post, I introduce the PERMA model, a happiness framework, and one of its five elements “Meaning” that relates to knowing one’s purpose. Your purpose is your why, your reason for being and getting out of bed each day. And everyone has one. You might just need to work out what it is.

With the individuals I coach, one of the first questions I always ask is “What is important to you?” And then I ask “Why is that important to you?” And then I ask “Why” again and again until I get a sense of the real (and deeper and more meaningful) answer to my initial question. The best responses are those when I can feel an emotion attached to it, and they include the things that should matter most; family, friends, serving someone other than one’s self or a combination of all of the above. Your purpose should be bigger than you and it must be true to you.

Finding out your purpose is very fulfilling – it can provide you with direction, fuel your passions and help you make decisions so your actions are consistent with what you value. Your purpose should be able to be applied to every aspect of your life and it shouldn’t change even if there are changes in your life. Knowing it is an important first step in determining your goals, which is why it is the best place for me to start as a coach.

And finding purpose doesn’t stop at the individual level. Some of the most successful companies have used their Why to rise to the top. No one outlines this better than Simon Sinek in his hugely popular “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” Ted Talk. Sinek explains his golden circle of why, how and what – that employees often know what they do and how they do it, but they aren’t across why they are doing it. Yet organisations like Apple sell on their Why, and we buy it.

As the premier American writer Mark Twain said “the two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”.

So what’s important to you? What’s your Why?