You Only Have One Life. How Will You Spend It?

© Georges Biard. Creative Commons 3.0

How’s life treating you? Or rather, how are you treating life? How are you looking at it? What are doing to make it count? To make it worth the few short years we have on this big blue marble we call Earth?

The surprising and sad death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman yesterday left a lot of people, in and out of the movie biz, shaken up.

Whenever anyone that means something to you dies, you’re left evaluating your own life. You look back and wonder: “What kind of legacy will I leave behind?” It’s inevitable.

But why do we always wait for life-shattering events to ask that question? Let’s ask it now. Heck. Let’s ask it every single day. Go ahead. Say it with me. “What kind of legacy will I leave behind?”

Imagine if the first thing you did every day when you looked in the mirror were to ask that question. Then imagine if every choice you made that day got you one step closer to achieving that answer. What would your life look like? What kind of legacy do you want to leave as…

  • An artist
  • A professional
  • A father or husband
  • A mother or wife
  • A brother or sister
  • A friend

What are the areas of your life you want to change? Where do you want to grow? Where do you want to go? What accomplishments in life have you put off, either consciously or by way of mis-placed priorities, that you want to see made?

Today. Right now…is the time to start walking in the right direction.

Choose One

But don’t be paralyzed by perfection. Don’t get overwhelmed with options. Start with just one area in your life and work from there. Consider finding one word that will define what your year will look like. Take a weekend retreat, detached from social media, technology and the noise of the world. Then do some deep soul-searching. Answer some hard questions about the choices you’ve made in the past. Forgive yourself if necessary or feel free to congratulate yourself too if you’ve made amazing accomplishments. Then find one word that will be your driving force for the year.

What’s my word you ask? Evolve. This year I want to evolve as an artist. And I want to continue my evolution as a husband. When I think about what that truly means, if I’m honest, it scares me. It scares the hell out of me. And you know what. That’s good. Because if you pick a word that doesn’t scare you, then chances are you won’t  make the profound change in your life you’re hoping to make.

Derek Sivers (the entrepreneurial visionary founder of CD Baby) put it best:

Every time you’re making a choice, one choice is the safe/comfortable choice – and one choice is the risky/uncomfortable choice. the risky/uncomfortable choice is the one that will teach you the most and make you grow the most, so that’s the one you should choose.

So let me ask you again. What will your legacy be?


One of my favorite group of filmmakers is the Wong Fu Production guys. I wrote about them a few of years ago during my YouTube filmmakers series. They recently released a new short film starring Chinese super star Wang Leehom  (this guy is huge in China. Like Justin Timberlake huge. ) I think this film perfectly captures the essence of this question. Definitely worth a 7-minute break.

5 thoughts on “You Only Have One Life. How Will You Spend It?

  1. I’m really saddened by Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. When I was in college, he hung out at a coffeehouse I used to frequent in Hollywood. This was before he was a ‘star’. As his career evolved, I was excited to see one of ‘us’ had made it. In the last 20 years that have passed since those college days, I came to know him in film (and as time went on, less and less in my coffeehouse as our paths moved on from that phase/place in life.) It saddens me to think I’ll never get to sit in anticipation for his next film… that I’ll never get to see him perform. (The loss his family has is greater than this. I feel selfish in this thought.) I was ALWAYS delighted in every performance he gave – the big roles, the small roles – they were all amazing. (I caught “Along Came Polly” on the flight back from my honeymoon… one of his lesser roles… my husband and I could not contain ourselves from riotous laughter for every second he was on screen.) What a loss. What a shame.

    1. I’m right with you on everything you said Michelle. Whenever PSH was cast in a film, it gave it a boost of legitimacy. I don’t think he’s ever been in a bad movie, or taken a roll for the cash.

      And he was freaking high-larious in “Along Came Polly.” He made “sharting” a house-hold word. 🙂 It is sad to think that beyond The Hunger Games movies, we won’t see him on screen again.

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