Tribute to “Five Wishes” by Gay Hendricks

Give a Little


Today a friend shared a book with me that when I read it felt like the author was talking directly to me.  The book was called “Five Wishes” and it was written by Gay Hendricks.  The book itself is rather short, very easy to read but its message is golden in its simplicity.  The author tells a story about how one chance conversation with a stranger changed his world.  My friend said she read the book and immediately thought of me.  I read the book and was struck by how this fits in with what I am trying to do on a personal level with my bucket list and my writing.

The Book

The premise of the book is that if you were on your deathbed right now and someone asked you the question “has your life been a complete success” what would you answer.  If you answered no, what would your wish be?  The answer to that question then becomes the straightforward goal for your future.

The book was so clear and straightforward that it was a delight to read and it gave me a template for putting my goals into a clear format.

Successful Life

I sat down immediately after reading this book and to write up my “Five Wishes”.  Once I sat down and really gave it some thought it was easier and yet harder than I would have suspected. I simply did as the author advised, I pretended I was on my deathbed today and someone came in and asked me the following question, “was your life a complete success?”

The way I approached this was to start from where I am today.  I am a 47-year-old wife and mother of three.  One of my children is out of college, of my children is in college and one is still in school.

I have not only a bachelor’s degree but also a graduate degree.  I am very happily married and feel like I have a strong and positive family life.  This is what I have put all my energy into for the past 24 years and I am proud of this success.  Based upon this I would emphatically say this part of my life has been a success and I would not change a single thing. The knowledge and awareness that this part of my life was successful was powerful and it felt really good.

Opportunity for Improvement

However, if I were totally honest with myself, and if I were on my deathbed today as the author Gay Hendricks proposes, would I say my life has been a complete and total success?  Hmmm..  powerful thoughts to ponder indeed.

It does not take a lot of pondering for me to admit that there is room for improvement in my life. It hits you kind of on the head when you think about it this way.  None of us have any guarantees; we do not know what the future brings or how long we have on this earth.  The answer becomes very clear to me.  If I were on my deathbed I would have to say parts of my life were very successful but there were also parts that were not.

Conclusion

Conclusion-my life is not completely successful.

Once you have come to the conclusion your life is not completely successful it is hard not to feel the energy rising inside of you to do something to change that and thus make your life successful.

Writing my Five Wishes

I decided to do as the author proposed and pretend these questions were asked of me on my deathbed and then write my answers in three different formats. The author has you write it first in past tense, as if your life were over and it was not successful.  Then he has you rewrite it into an “I wish” format, presumably to motivate you.  Last is to write it into present tense as an action statement.

Attempting to follow the authors instructions, I  wrote it in the past tense as if my life was over and I had not been successful.  This made me feel kind of bad.  When I shared what I wrote with my family this format elicited strong emotions from them indeed.

Next, I would rephrase this statement to “I wish I had…” thus opening the door for me to make changes since I am thankfully, not actually on my deathbed.

The last step is to rewrite this into a present tense action statement as if my life were a complete success.  This final revision then becomes your action statement, goal or motto.  It does not matter what you call it.  What matters is that you commit to it and take small but active steps to make it a reality.   After reflecting I came up with the following:

Wish One

My life was not a success because I never created a highly successful, creative and profitable career that was all my own and allowed me to make a fantastic salary and help others.

I wish I had been able to do a better job balancing family and work in order to be able to put energy into creating a highly successful, creative and profitable career that was all my own and allowed me to make a fantastic salary and help others.

My life is a success because I allowed myself to put to energy into my career without guilt and now I am enjoying a highly successful, creative and profitable career, parts of it are all my own and part of it I am sharing with my husband and my daughter and I am making a fantastic salary and I use that to help others.

Wish Two

My life was not a success because I did not allow myself to develop my own talents and then share them with the world.  I believe God gives each of us a special gift and it is our responsibility to develop that gift and use it for good.  I do not feel like I ever completely did this.

I wish had not been so one dimensional in my focus and had allowed myself to develop my own talents so that I could share them with the world.  I believe God gives each of us a special gift and it is our responsibility to develop that gift and use it for good.  I feel like I put so much emphasis on family that I neglected this in myself.

My life is a success because I changed from a one dimensional focus to a three dimensional focus and in doing so I allowed myself to discover and then develop my own talents so that I could share them with the world and honor God’s will.

Wish Three

My life was not a success because I don’t know for a fact that I  found a way to teach my children to create the life they want.  I believe happiness is a choice and no matter what our circumstances are we have the ability to choose happiness and make the world a better place.

My wish is that I had been able to teach my children to create the life they want.  I believe happiness is a choice and no matter what our circumstances are we have the ability to choose happiness and make the world a better place.  I once heard this called being a “creator and not a victim.”  A victim spends their life reacting to life; a creator creates the life they want.  I wish I had taught that lesson to my children.

My life is a success because I did teach my children through my example to create the life they want and to choose happiness over unhappiness, to choose to be a creator and not a victim no matter what happens to you in life. They learned that by choosing to be a creator you help others and in doing so make the world a better place.

Wish Four

My life was not a success because I never created a lasting way to give to those less fortunate and help make the world a better place.

I wish I had been able to create a permanent and lasting way to give to those less fortunate and help make the world a better place.

My life is a success because I allowed myself to put energy into creating a permanent and lasting legacy to give to those less fortunate, and helps make the world a better place. I stopped thinking I had to solve the world’s biggest problems and instead focused on a smaller problem and then changed my perspective and decided that even though I was just one woman I did have to power to make a difference.

Wish Five

I have to admit I am still working on what my fifth wish should, could and might be. I will get back to you soon on this!

Moving Forward

After reading the book and putting myself through the same steps I experienced a strange sense of awakening.  When Gay Hendricks, the author of “Five Wishes” states that this simple conversation created an awareness that he was not already completely successful in his life.  This awareness helped motivate him to make changes and commit completely toward each of his five wishes.  I can see why that happened for the author because I feel like I have a new sense of purpose in my life.

When the author changed his perspective, he became aware of what he was and was not doing to achieve all his life goals.  He then became committed to making his wishes come true and that was when he saw things change dramatically in his world.

After reading this thought provoking book I see more clearly the areas in my life where I feel I have been completely successful and can admit that probably that success is due to the vast amount of energy I consistently put toward that goal over the years.  I feel good about this success.

Likewise, I see more clearly the areas in my life where I feel improvement can be made.  I can also admit that it is possible that if I put a similar amount of energy consistently toward these new goals over the next few years I might just be surprised with the success I achieve.  This will take time and effort but wouldn’t it be cool if when I actually was on my deathbed I could look back at my life and say with confidence “my life was a complete success!”

I believe that the theme of this book fits extremely well with my own personal quest to get out of my comfort zone, experience more of life and make some of my own dreams come true.  I am going to add my five wishes to the top of my bucket list.

I encourage you to pick up the book “Five Wishes” and read it and see what your answers are, and then you too can decide if you need to change your perspective like I did.


So my friend, I ask you “what’s next on your list?”

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