Think backwards to go forward

Think backwards to go forward

Pedro Zavala

I’ve had a lot of friends tell me they don’t know what to do in life, just like a lot of students.

I remember one specific car ride I had with a friend who told me she felt lost. She wasn’t in college, no job, had just recently moved and had to take pills to calm her nerves. I didn’t know what to say because I had my life in order. I just couldn’t relate to her, and I couldn’t say let’s talk to someone else because she had opened herself up to me for the first time.

I froze but stuttered and said the first thing that came to mind, just so I could stop the awkward silence between us. “How do you want to be remembered when you die?” is what I said. I don’t know why, that’s just how my mind works.

She looked at me and answered the question to my surprise. She told me that she wanted to be remembered as a kind, happy and cheerful friend to those who knew her. I then asked how she thinks others see her right now. She said that it was probably the opposite.

Again, I was stumped because she was opening up and I was not prepared to help her with her baggage. But I went with it, and I asked what her long-term goals were—what she wanted to do in life, things she wanted to accomplish. She gave me a long list of things, but she dismissed them all as impossible because of where she was right now. I finally found my groove and was able to connect the dots. But it was too late. We had arrived at our destination and the moment was gone.

I don’t have a time machine to go back in time and say what I needed to tell her, so I won’t pretend to do it here. But there are millions of people who feel that way, and to them I say, “How do you want to be remembered?”

Make sure everything you do from now on out is to meet that expectation.

Think of where you want to go and what you have to do to get there. You’re never too young or too old. You might not be in the best position to achieve what you want; it’ll just take more patience. You’ve just got to keep your goal in mind and go for it.