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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Petty

016 The Question That Changes Everything

The Go-to Tool for Living the Life You Were Made to Live


What if one question could revolutionize your life right now?

You might be thinking, “whatever, Petty--you and all the other schmucks out there pitching silver bullets and fool-proof lifehacks.” I get it; that’s my response, too, to promises of instantaneous life change. But--and again, I realize this is what they all say--this is different. Stay tuned to see if I’m full of it or if there’s really something useful here.

Fair warning: At face value, the question I’ll share is simple, but using it to change your life is far from easy. It takes guts and commitment.

So buckle up, buttercup--you might just be on the brink of something extraordinary.

Wait. Why Are We Doing This? Oh right.

More often than not, it takes a life-or-death crisis to wake us up to the fragility of Life and the inevitability of Death. Sometimes, when confronted with such a crisis, we make dramatic and durable changes. That happened to me, and I share that part of my story in episode 001: You’re Dying: How to Make the Most of It.

But I think it’s tragic to wait until crisis strikes to make those changes. By then it’s often a case of too little, too late.

So I created this podcast to help us all develop the habit of proactively confronting our Mortality to harness its motivational power RIGHT NOW--before crisis strikes and we’re left with no choice. To let regular contemplation of our Mortality keep what matters most on the top of our minds. And to assemble a toolbox that helps us put this mindset into action in the real world.

Then, we can make more mindful choices in the moment about how we spend our time, with whom, and doing what, and we get the kick in the butt that we usually need to bring our best gifts into the world today rather than the ever-elusive “tomorrow.”

If It’s Hard for Them...

All of the guests on this podcast have had shocking encounters with Mortality. And each of them attests to the fact that it’s STILL hard for them to remember what matters most and keep the main thing the main thing. If it’s hard for them, then it’s going to be way harder for any of us who haven’t yet had such encounters.

BUT, with practice, we can approximate the effect of a real encounter with Mortality by consistently and proactively confronting our Mortality.

For me and for you listening today, this podcast is part of that consistent practice.

Tools for Your Toolbox

Hopefully, you’ve tuned in to some or even all of the episodes so far. Hopefully, you’re catching on to the power of this rare conversation and taking first steps toward some real-world changes in your life as a result. But there can be a big gap between buying into a concept and knowing how to act on it here and now. So, all of the solo episodes I’ve produced so far provide you with tools for bridging the gap between concept and application. Tools to help you become the person you were MADE to be and live the life you were MADE to live. Today’s episode equips you with another tool for your toolbox.

And it might be the most useful one yet.

This is a Message Just for Us

BTW, I’m not at all sure that a podcast like this or a tool like the one I’m going to share with you today would make much sense in many other parts of the world--where because of poverty, famine, war, and other menaces, Death is a daily part of Life. For those of us in the “developed” First World, though, we have the mixed blessing of being pretty insulated from Death. It’s not usually all around us. But the downside of that insulation is that we lose sight of Mortality and slip into auto pilot. As Joe Harsel said in episode 11, “being on autopilot robs us of life.”

When Death does show up, we’re shocked--as if this unwanted visitor was somehow going to skip us.

And those of us in the developed “First World” face another problem that many others in the world don’t. Where others have a scarcity of opportunity, we often have a glut of opportunity. In the face of so many options, we often take the path of least resistance and settle into lives that fall well short of our unique purpose in the world.

When we do that, we’re robbed of the incomparable satisfaction of doing what we were made to do and the rest of the world is deprived of your greatest gifts.

Who Will You Be?

Let’s not be counted among those who are surprised when Mortality shows up. Let’s be counted among those who greet it with, “Hi, I’ve been expecting you” and can honestly say that we did everything we could to leave it all out on the field of life before Death arrived.

Get Where You Want to Go More Quickly

Before we turn the corner in this conversation and move on to the question that changes everything, I want to say this: Embracing the “mortality mindset” that this podcast champions can change your life. But nothing is as transformational as enlisting a trusted, confidential, objective partner to help you do that. That’s what I do as a coach. I bring my curiosity, gifting, training, and genuine desire for you to be all that you can be to a powerful partnership that gets you where you want to go more quickly than you could on your own.

We talk. You gain insight. You put your insight to work in the real world. And step by step, day by day, you transform yourself into the person you were made to be. It’s not magical, but it is absolutely effective.

We can do that 1-1 in a variety of ways, and you can also enlist a small group of confidential partners and my focused input as your coach to help you in that journey. The Graveyard Group is a mastermind I’ve created that helps you operationalize this mortality mindset on a regular basis. You meet weekly with your five fellow group members to work on the big stuff--the stuff that would become your biggest deathbed regrets if you didn’t take care of it now. Not whether you should buy the blue or the red truck--as important as that might be. But how you mend the broken relationship. How you fulfill the dream you’ve always had but haven’t had the guts to pursue yet. How you become the dad to your kids that you never had when you were growing up. Just like 1-1 coaching, it isn’t magical--it’s messy and non-linear, just like life--but it simply works.

No one’s out there looking for a life coach. I’m not even interested in finding a life coach for myself. But I AM very interested in getting even better results in my life in a few key areas. And 1-1 and group coaching are super-efficient and effective ways to get those results.

You and I might be a great fit to work together. The Graveyard Group might be just the thing you need right now to get where you want to go. Visit to learn more about both of these.

Without Further Ado: The Question That Changes Everything

Many of us are familiar with a question like, “What would you do if you found out you only had six months to live?” Our responses usually include get our affairs in order, spend quality time with those closest to us, check off some bucket list items, enjoy more sunsets, etc. It’s a fast-paced farewell tour before we ride off into the eternal sunset.

I think an even more interesting and useful question, though--and the tool I want to give you today--is this:

“If you knew you were going to die exactly 5 years from now, what would you do differently today?”

The Value of 5

With five years to live, we’ve still got bills to pay, a roof to keep over our head, food to put on the table. We can’t just have an extended farewell tour. We can’t just prepare to die because there’s still a fair amount of living to do.

This 5-year timeframe clarifies priorities, prompts us to take “risks” that we’ve been reluctant to take, and reveals ways in which we’ve been frittering away our lives unprofitably. With five years to go, we have some runway we can use to write an exceptional end to our earthly story.

Alternatively, of course, we could circle the wagons and hunker down, fearfully waiting for the inevitable. What a tragedy!

But for most of us, I think that the 5-year death sentence would light a white-hot fire under us to get after it.

So What About You?

What would you do differently now if you knew you would die exactly five years from today? Would you spend more time with your spouse and kids? Would you leave the job you hate and find the one you want? Would you finally prioritize your health? Would you reconnect with that best friend you’ve lost touch with?

Whatever your answer is...why not do it NOW? Stop and let that sink in. What is keeping you from doing those things now? We usually act as if tomorrow is assured. And it is NOT.

You may have 25 years, 5 years, or only one day left. Whether we will die isn’t in question. It’s simply a matter of when and how.

Here’s the question again: “If you knew you were going to die exactly 5 years from now, what would you do differently today?”

This question will change everything if you let it.

Tackling New Challenges Created By This Question

If you have the guts to begin asking yourself this question and acting on your answers, you’ll be in for an exhilarating ride. AND, you’ll invite some other tough customers into your life in a new way--like fear, doubt, and new kinds of discomfort. As I said at the beginning, this simple question can revolutionize your life...and it’s far from easy to follow through on your answers. A few other episodes of Andrew Petty is Dying provide tools for mastering fear, doubt, and discomfort:

I’m rooting for you, and I believe you absolutely have what it takes.

Remember, you are going to die. But you’re not dead yet. So get after it!

Connect with me by email, or visit my website.

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