What Would You Do With 30 Days to Live?

By Michael Stelzner

Today I had a friend who just had 5 valves in his heart bypassed. He survived.

But these kind of experiences make me think about my life.

So I have two very important questions for you:

1. If you found out you only had 30 more days to live, what would you do/want to accomplish?

2. Perhaps more importantly, why aren’t you doing those things now?

I’d like to hear your response.

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  • http://www.nettiehartsock.com Nettie Hartsock


    For me accomplishing and relishing each day as its own day is primary. And teaching my children to do the same and always putting them above anything else. And none of us know we’re going to be here tomorrow so thinking about it in terms of 30 days and what one might accomplish seems to denote that each of us are at least promised another 30 days to accomplish. That might not be the case, so I think the most important thing is to wake up each day with a grateful heart and spend that very day living to the best of your ability.

    Randy Pausch who sadly passed away on Friday is the real example of this and his “Last Lecture” if you’ve not seen it yet on YouTube is the real evidence of a life well-lived.

  • http://www.strongwhitepapers.com/blog Graham Strong

    The thing about only having 30 days to live is that you don’t have to worry about 31 days from now. So you don’t have to worry about house taxes in the fall, or saving up for Christmas, or working at all (the insurance money will take care of the bills).

    As it is, we don’t have that luxury (or curse I guess — who wants to die next month?). So “life” gets in the way of “living”.

    That being said, you’ve got to snatch joy where you can. Enjoying your work is certainly a great first step… Speaking of which, back to it.


  • http://www.kblocksdorf.com Kathy

    Finish my novel, read a pile of books, eat lots of excellent food and ride my horse.

  • http://www.myspace.com/mozilla358 Simone

    I’d write down all the secrets I’ve been hiding; reach out to old friends and lovers; spend lots of money; travel; and finally, party like it’s…well, the end of my life.

  • http://www.insideassistedliving.com Ryan Malone


    Great questions. The story about your friend really touched home. My dad passed away when I was 17 due to complications from a quadruple bypass.

    When it became apparent that he would either be completely incapacitated or die, he and I had a series of long talks in the hospital. I was 17 and a bit young to digest all of them, but many stay with me.

    There were two nuggets that from those conversation that I would focus on if I had 30 days to live.

    First, when the day comes that you’re lying on your death bed, you have to be able to look at yourself and know that you gave the things that really matter your best. There is no such thing as regret if you try.

    Second, if you truly believe you had a positive and lasting impact on even a handful of people you touched in your life, you did a good job!

    I try to focus on those every day, but my last thirty would be focused on it.

  • http://www.seoresults.co.za Jacques Snyman

    Mike, you truly raise a very pertinent question. I turned my back on the business world six years ago, and went out into the big wide world, following my dreams. The lesson of non-attachment is the one I’ve learned from that experience, and that is what I would urge anybody to explore. We can’t take anything with us, and once we realise that, and stop being so attached to temporary, material things, we can look forward to living without fear, and fear of death, ultimately.

  • http://www.youcanmakeadifference.org Doug Eberhardt

    I am doing those things now! The problem is, it’s taken me over 3 years to get them finished and I’m still not done! But like a fine wine…. Thank God I see light at the end of the tunnel and I have more time on this earth! And thank God for introducing me to you Michael!

  • http://www.writingwhitepapers.com/blog/ Michael Stelzner

    Wow, thanks very much for that compliment Doug!

  • http://www.poems.md Natalie Brahan

    I would devote all my time to my family

  • Ellen M.

    Great comments, all.

    Nettie’s comment reminds me of a conversation I had with my aunt two years ago when she decided not to pursue treatment for an aggressive lung cancer. (She was 83 and had been a successful mother and business professional and she was a gas.) I asked her how she was dealing with the knowledge that her remaining time on earth was limited and she said she was taking each day as it came to her. She had traveled a lot, but her home and garden, children and grandchildren, formed the basis of her world for the months she had left – about 6 of them and they were good ones.

  • Kelly McBride

    It’s so sad when people think that “doing” things (visiting places, having an “experience”, any kind of physical going or doing) is what comprises a life well-lived. In the end, even human relationships are transitory and ephemeral.

    What really matters is how you are in your own Being — did your choices represent loving the unlovable, embracing the unembracable, and, as Jacques mentions above, releasing ALL attachment to things physical (that includes any kind of human relationship).

    I would spend my last days in an intensely focused choice of embodying Unconditional Love for all of Creation, BEING STILL (that also means much silence) and hearing the heartbeat of my Soul whispering.

    Only then can we truly remember why we were born in the first place — why we are on earth to begin with and what we were supposed to accomplish (not do but accomplish — these are usually opposites) with our presence here.

    If someone spends their time doing or going, that person is choosing to be distracted from their Soul’s messages. Being distracted by noise or activity (including other people’s presence) is an accepted “normal” way to hide from urgently required quiet contemplation.

    I speak from experience. I have “passed over” twice (once during a parachute dive during which my chute didn’t open and I landed on a house — I was busy “doing” — and once from surgery to repair complications from those massive injuries).

    As a consequence of “seeing and feeling” life after “death”, I stopped my two addictions: “doing” and “socially accepted human relationships” and began to really live.

    Only with choices of inner focus can I be an example of authentic empowerment for any other humans around me — including family and such (instead of perpetuating the addiction to “doing”).

    We all share the same opportunities for Knowing. Most of us are on the tail-chasing merry-go-round of “experiencing”.

    My usual questions for people who are in the “terminal” situation and who want to know if what they are choosing is the appropriate thing for them:

    “What will it matter in 100 years?”
    “Will your choices uplift humanity in such a way that it will still be relevant 500 years from now?”
    Those two questions are enough to shift their limited paradigm of considerations.

    Miracles of life mastery are fashioned only in moments of stillness and silence.

    Have you heard your Soul whispering to you lately?

  • http://www.netage.co.za Goran Giertz

    Wow! We can compile quite a tome out of all of these comments. Kelly, yours I consider to be the most thought provoking. Thank you Mike, for raising this question and having people comment on it. For myself I think I will accept my fate and just live for every moment, in faith that all is OK.

  • http://mp3leben.com Shane

    Praying, get closer to God, spend my time with the persons I love…Why I’m not doing those things now? I’m trying now the best I can. But failed is human, right?

  • http://www.cats-breeds.com Dany

    I will do something beautiful for kids.For those kids which have no parents…

  • http://www.heartchoices.com Debbie Petras

    I would spend the time with my loved ones, including my nieces and nephews. Many in my family live in other states. I would want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned in life. I guess if they knew I only had 30 days to live they might listen. Most importantly, I’d want to share my faith and the hope that is within me. We really don’t know how long we have to live on this earth anyway so we should be treasuring each day even now. I would want my life to be known by my love for others.

  • http://www.poems.md Natalie Brahan

    my family and friends- this is the time for

  • Joe

    It’s not the ideal way to frame the question — because what I would do with my time would differ significantly if I knew I had one hour to live, one day, 30 days, 6 months, 5 years or 30 years.

    If I had one year to live and my dream was to write a novel, I might undertake that with relish. If I had 30 days to live, I wouldn’t, because I couldn’t finish it in time.

    A lot of life is about planting seeds.

  • http://www.christmas.bg/ peter

    If I had just a month to live I would devote all the days and nights to my close friends, relatives and beloved. I would enjoy every minute of the day and night.

  • http://dnevni-horoskop.biz dnevni horoskop

    I suppose that people is frighten of consequencies in their normal life and when hear for 30 day to live things are going to be: I don’t care.

  • http://www.thedivorceinsider.com cheap divorce

    Spend quality time with family and friends, travel, learn to play the guitar and remain spiritually strong.

  • http://www.jobideasforteens.com job ideas for teens

    i was already thinking of something to answer the first question when i read the second. it really made stop and think–and made me feel guilty because i realized i’ve always been promising to do a lot of things and accomplish it within a specific period of time, but as one of the posters said, “life gets in the way of living” so i just end up postponing and postponing until my previous goals get buried by new ones already.

    i think i’ll just answer the second one because it’s more interesting (hehe)

    the reason why we don’t do these things is because we think we have forever stretched out before us and we have all the time in the world to do all the things we want, so we create a number of goals that we somehow never get to really doing (because of the premise that we have all the time in the world). but when you receive an ultimatum, like your example of only 30 days to live, we are shocked to our core and only then does reality seeps in.

    maybe if we’re told every day that we only get another day to live, we’d all accomplish all our goals. :D

  • bobri

    If you were told you had 30 days to live, it would not be this romanticised view you are all having here… You would be utterly depressed and unable to think straight. Your entire state of mind would be a mess.

  • reggie56

    Bobri, as a stoic I can appreciate your response. I've been through some serious s… lately so my only concern would be how this would impact my parents and friends. I probably wouldn't want to spend a lot of time sleeping that's for sure.

  • reggie56

    Bobri, as a stoic I can appreciate your response. I've been through some serious s… lately so my only concern would be how this would impact my parents and friends. I probably wouldn't want to spend a lot of time sleeping that's for sure.