Reader’s Guide: 10 Questions (PDF)
1. Why does the author embark on his year-long project? What does he hope to accomplish by tying up his life’s loose ends?
2. The author lists several reasons why he lets important matters slide: not enough time or energy, his tendency to procrastinate, his fear of doing the wrong thing. What are some of the reasons that you accumulate unfinished business?
3. The author writes that his family is the source of his “most intimate and anxiety-producing” unfinished business. Do you think that's true for most people? Is it true for you?
4. The author goes on ten journeys to close circles or make amends. Which of his journeys -- for example, paying back a debt, finding a long-lost relative, thanking an old teacher -- resonated most with you? Why?
5. If you had one year to tie up your loose emotional ends, how would you spend it? What items would be at the top of your list of unfinished business?
6. Shahid believes that it's important to address your unfinished business because "we need to make an accounting of these things before we die, so that our souls can rest." Akmal says, "It's not about resting in peace. It's about moving forward. It's about optimizing your human potential." Who in your opinion is right?
7. Think of all the people you cared about who have passed away. Did any of them die without knowing what they had meant to you? If you had one more conversation with those people, what would you say to them?
8. The author says that he wants to live "a more connected life?" What does he mean by that phrase? Rate your own life. On a scale of 1 to 10, how rich is it in terms of human connectedness?
9. Mr. Jarvis challenges his students by saying: "After you die, what would you like people to say about you? Your answer to that question should guide the way you live." What would you like people to say about you after you die?
10. Has this book given you a perspective on your life that you find useful? What ideas are you likely to take away or apply from it? Can you think of any steps you can take in your own life to keep yourself from accumulating unfinished business?