A lifetime.

So often we use that word as a stand-in for “forever.” It took a lifetime to get here. You have a lifetime to figure it out. What is a lifetime, though, if not something finite? Everyone gets a certain number of years, seasons, weeks, days, and seconds. No one knows what that number is, but there is an objective start and end.

I don’t say this to be morbid; I say it because people often seem to forget just how precious every moment is. When you remind yourself that you only get a certain number of days, it becomes harder to justify spending one of them doing anything other than the most worthwhile thing.

For some people, that’s spending time with family. Doing something rewarding at work. Maybe enjoying a particularly well-cooked meal, a great workout, or helping someone. Whatever it is, a day not spent in the pursuit of something greater or better is a gift left unopened.

A lifetime.

I recently received a phone call from my father, Michael Finaldi. He founded our company Tele-Solutions in 1982, and I was proud and honored to take over as president when he retired. Getting a phone call from him was nothing unusual, but this was the kind of phone call you never expect. It was the kind of phone call you can’t ever properly prepare for.

“I have cancer.”

Over Christmas break, both he and my mother caught COVID-19. Mom recovered, but Dad continued to complain of symptoms long after, including soreness in his lungs. When he went to the hospital for a chest X-ray, the doctor didn’t like what he saw. After more tests, he informed my dad he had stage four lung cancer, and it had metastasized to all other areas of his body.

A lifetime.

My father, in true Michael Finaldi fashion, told the doctor he appreciated the diagnosis but not his dire verdict. After all, nobody—not even the best medical professional in the world—truly knows how many more years, seasons, weeks, or days anyone has left. He had always expected to live about seventy-eight years, and he was seventy-three years old at the time of his diagnosis.

This event has put a lot into sharp perspective for me. Ever since receiving the news, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on life and what I want to do with the rest of the time I have with my dad, whether that’s years or days.

It also brings to mind a blog that’s always stuck with me: 18 Summers, by Robert Glazer. In it, Bob reflects on having only eighteen summers with one’s children and how to harness the finiteness of that window to create perspective, to make room for what matters to you and your family, and to appreciate the value of quality time.

My wife and I come back to this blog and this idea often, helping us remember to prioritize our annual family adventures. We’ve learned you can always come up with a reason not to do something. (It’s too expensive. We don’t have time. Excuses were especially easy with the COVID restrictions of the past year.) More often than not, though, you can find a creative solution, and you’ll never regret the memories made as a result.

Damon Finaldi Family

A lifetime.

Nobody can be 100 percent grateful all the time. It would be paralyzing to live in this constant state. Reminders, however, can help us recapture that perspective and gratitude when we feel ourselves putting our heads down and going on autopilot.

I, like many people, am a visual learner, and I found the blog Your Life in Weeks, by Tim Urban, to be incredibly impactful. In it, he visually represents ninety years (an approximation of a human life) in years, months, weeks, and seconds.

90 Year Human Life

Tim Urban – You Life in Weeks Article – WaitButWhy.com

It’s easy to feel as if you have forever to do that thing you love, to reach that goal, or to make that necessary change. Seeing those weeks laid out on the screen, though, is a striking reminder that your weeks are, as Urban says, not countless but “fully countable.”

A lifetime.

As a member of my local chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, we often run through different exercises, and one is called “Lifeline.” It allows you to document on a graph the various highs and lows of your life, whether that’s personal, professional, or both.

Because it was originally geared toward younger entrepreneurs, my copy of the lifeline diagram ended around fifty-five. Given the recent news about my dad, I couldn’t help but think, Wait. This doesn’t go all the way to the end of the road.

When I look at my life to date, I see my marriage. The birth of my children. Numerous professional accomplishments. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve gone through, and I am, now more than ever, keenly aware of how much I want to keep creating those memories, reaching those goals, and achieving those accomplishments—all the way to the end of the road.

No one knows how many summers they have left. What if it were fifty? What if it were five? What are you going to do with this unknown amount of time you’ve been gifted? Don’t we all want to end life on a high note? I certainly don’t want to have the taste of regret in my mouth at the end of the road.

As for me, I know I’m going to make the most of the time I have left with my dad, no matter how much time that ends up being.

I’m going to make the most of every year, season, week, day, and second that make up the remainder of my lifetime.

Author’s Note:
At the time I originally wrote this blog, my father’s diagnosis was stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer. He passed away on July 1, 2021, and his passing has caused me to reflect even more on how we all invest our time.

LifeLine downloadable PDF
Plot your own Lifeline chart. Think of your life from the day you were born until today. Think of the high points, the low points, and the significant events that shaped your life.

Lifeline Graph

LifeLine downloadable PDF

GROW.
LEARN.
LEAD.

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