Back in 2005 I learnt the meaning of having a purpose in life and I came to realize that we are all going to die – there is no surprise here – but how we lived our lives is what will determine how we will feel about death. One thought led to the other and I found the missing part of the puzzle; the thought of dying did not bother me but the thought of dying as though I never lived drove me crazy. I wanted to leave a legacy; to make a difference; to have some sort of an impact.
Since that point in my life I made a habit of starting each year with five main goals that are supported by an action plan on how to reach those goals. I also ended each year with what looks like a profit and loss statement; I look at my achievements and how they supported my purpose in life, I examine the challenges and plan on how to overcome them the year after, and I filter the opportunities based on my chosen mission in life.
For 2008 I had several goals that covered different areas in my life; I wanted to move into my new home, get my first book published, write for one more international publication, write in Arabic, launch my radio career, have an English language program, finish the car installments, finish the loan installments, quit my full time job and secure a free-lancing career, cut my hair a la garcon, and renew my car license (I am still struggling with that one.)
Last July, a friend of mine sent me a link to a website named Ethical Wills and I was fascinated by the idea. Dr. Barry K. Baines – the author of the book – defines an ethical will as the voice of your heart. It is as though you are writing a love letter to your family, friends, colleagues, and everyone you crossed paths with in your lifetime. Dr. Baines said that most ethical wills pass on a person's important personal values and beliefs, spiritual reflections, hopes for the future generations, life's lessons, love, and forgiveness.
I always thought that the ideal time for writing a will is when a person feels that the end is near – I have no clue where I got that idea from. Dr. Baines gave me a totally new perspective. In an ethical will, people share a part of themselves and this part helps them identify and act upon their beliefs. It also helps the reader of this will to understand where they are coming from and what they value most. This could be an ideal tool between couples at anytime of their relationship, between parents and their children regardless of their age, between grand parents and their grand children, or between friends and business associates.
There is no better time to share with you my ethical will than at the end of a fruitful and very productive year:
? I have learnt the joy of tolerance and that he who judges shall be judged. People are different and I am different too.
? I believe in mercy and forgiveness. I am still working on second chances though. We all make mistakes.
? Fame does not last but the people you have helped will remember your forever.
? Beauty does not last either but the people who see your heart will always see your beauty.
? I have made so many men jealous because no matter how much I gave, they could never have all of me.
? I have made so many women jealous because no matter how hard they tried, they could never be me.
? I am very competitive and it distracts me from my goals – work in progress.
? I love teaching and only this year that I began running into my previous students in all sorts of companies – they are doing well and now I know that I did well too.
? Anger is not such a bad thing; anger is the driver behind change and we definitely need huge changes in this society. Anger and rage push me forward.
? Life is not always fair but God is. I have faith in God. I have faith in myself.
? By being positive and happy I attract good things and good people into my life. I try to remember that every time I lose hope.
? I color my dreams in my head only to open my eyes and find them a reality.
? I touched a baby for the first time in my life – yes, I know this is creepy. I held my niece and I now worry about her future.
? My mission is to get people to think, to question, and to analyze everything in their lives. I vow to shock their beliefs, to look them in the eye, to tell them the truth, and to wake them from their beauty sleep.
? I grew to hate ostriches and anyone who buries their head in the sand.
? I realized that my personal problems and anything that used to bother me on a personal level is tiny if I let myself be involved in a bigger circle of social and gender issues.
? Now people see me the same way that I see myself and the same way that I want them to see me – now I have to maintain that level of transparency.
? I respect my brother; I might not agree with him on most things in life but I respect how honest he is with himself.
? With power comes a lot of responsibility and my pen has given me a lot of power; I try to use it wisely and in accordance with my mission.
? I chose to write about women and for women in an attempt to help men understand us better.
? I chose to cross many red lines. I get scared at times but most of the time I feel that I did the right thing.
? I finally understood that black means the absence of color and that white means all the colors combined. We cannot choose black or white because they are not options; we live in a world of colors, shades, and hues and our decisions always have to have a color.
? Perceptions could be very tricky. What I perceive to be right could be perceived by other people as a nonnegotiable wrong. I might change my mind. They might change their minds. Change and death are the only constants in life.
? I finally understood that no one has the power to hurt me unless I delegate that power onto them.
? I also realized that those who love me and those who hate me love or hate what they willingly chose to love or hate about me – I have nothing to do with their choice.
? In my training room I see samples of Egyptian ladies and gentlemen from different walks in life; some of them make me see a bright future and others just make me want to cry.
? I will never forget the time I told one of my readers that I want to be her mother when she told me how she cannot talk to her real mother.
? I discovered politics – yes at the age of 34!
? I want the coming generations to have dreams; many people my age have given up on the power of dreams.
? I consider myself a very lucky person; I have met great people in my life who have supported me and held my hand when I needed it the most. I owe them anything and everything that I am good at now.
? Fact of life: Love is a spice that I cannot handle well.
? Heartbreaks do not hurt as much as they used to before.
? I am still the genius of messed up relationships but instead of using it to feel sorry for myself, I am using it to help others.
? I now know that I have become the man that I wanted to get married to and I am proud of it.
? This year I have reconnected with a lot of my schoolmates and they turned out to be just fine. I am so proud of them.
? 2008 has given me friends who are ten years younger – age is just a number.
? Facebook is the best thing that happened to me in 2008
? I fall in love with my cats all over again every time I look at them.
I am glad I shared my first ethical will with you my dear readers. I will revisit it every few months and enhance it with more lessons, stories, and values. I am leaving my words to my niece and to all of you hoping that my words tell the stories that I cared not to lose. Writing those lines has helped me identify the things and the people that I value most, and what I stand for. I advise you to draft your very own ethical will – it will give you a sense of completion.