Personal development: Harness the power of the ‘Ebenezer effect’


PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT As you write your eulogy, it’s helpful to record your accomplishments in the past tense. Did you write that book you’ve been talking about? Did you set a positive example? Did you donate and volunteer to help those less fortunate? Did you raise a wonderful family, start that business, travel the world, or learn another language? In short, did you make a positive difference to your family, your community, your country and the world at large? Did you live up to your ideals and your potential or did you fall short? Be as specific and concrete as possible. Don’t spare any details. It may be difficult, but try to see yourself as others see you. Don’t sugarcoat things.

This eulogy process helps to focus the mind on long-term goals and on big questions about your life’s purpose. The sooner you write your eulogy, the better. Jacob Marley never got around to it and he ended up chained and condemned to eternal purgatory. Scrooge almost waited until it was too late. So, don’t put it off. This is something you should do right now! A mission statement you can’t ignore Remember this. The personal eulogy you write today isn’t etched in stone like Scrooge’s name on his tombstone. You can always go back to the document periodically and make some edits, add new goals or even remove things that no longer apply. The main thing is to get something on paper now that reflects your long-term goals, heartfelt values, and deepest principles. Those things shouldn’t change very much over time.

Basically, your written eulogy amounts to a uniquely powerful ‘mission statement’ for your life, designed intentionally to get and keep your attention over time. Once written, this eulogy is a document that you ignore at your own peril. At one point, Scrooge makes this promise to the ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come: “I will honour Christmas in my heart and I will try to keep its spirit all year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. I will not forget the lessons that the Spirits of all three have taught me.” Likewise, we should not forget the lessons Scrooge can teach us. Scrooge shows us that it’s never too late to change and that change can happen literally overnight. There’s no time like the present to project yourself into the future, write your own eulogy, and harness the power of the ‘Ebenezer effect’. It’s a great way to clarify what’s most important to you and to set your life’s course in the direction you want it to take – before it’s too late.

So, this holiday season, go ahead – be a Scrooge! You and your loved ones will be glad you did.

Matthew Cossolotto (aka The Podium Pro) is a former Nato speechwriter. Author of The Almanac of European Politics, HabitForce!, and All The World’s A Podium, Matthew conducts PodiumPower! public speaking workshops and other Personal Empowerment Programs (PEPTalks) for universities, associations, government agencies, and corporations.

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