What Will Matter – by Michael Josephson

I love to teach. I live to teach. I need to teach. So, in an effort to create a new platform for my teachings I recently created this new website called WhatWillMatter.com. I hope you’ll visit and subscribe and stay regularly engaged in the search for what matters.

The name of the website or blog comes from the title of a poem I wrote in 2003. This poem sums up my core philosophy.

WHAT WILL MATTER by Michael Josephson (c) 2003

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, or days.

All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame, and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.

It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.

So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.

It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.

It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.

Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought but what you built; not what you got but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage,

or sacrifice that enriched, empowered, or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories but the memories of those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.

It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.

You can download a copy of the poem suitable for framing from http://charactercounts.org/pdf/whatwillmatter-1203.pdf or view a slide show of the poem at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-Lm_U9yEP0

If you like this poem you may also like a wonderful poem called The Dash by Linda Ellis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsY6UrFIsNs

Comments 28

    1. Post

      Thanks Carissa (that’s the name of one of our daughters – beautiful!)

      Yes, you can get a printed version if you make a tax-deductible donation to the Josephson Institute for of $20 or more (though you can download it for free from the website) You can also get a personally signed version if you make a donation of $50 or more.

      1. Hiya Michael, I first saw this poem on charlot gersons documentary “The Beautiful Truth” it was read out at the end, its such a work of art, beautiful, well done. hope your doing well. kudos

        1. I wondered if you found this poem anywhere for framing? The link that was given doesn’t work anymore ❤️

  1. What a great poem! For me, it couldn’t have come to me at a better time in my life. It was stated so eloquently and to the point. Thank you so much for sharing it with your readers.

    1. Post

      You are welcome. Feel free to download a copy of our website and please visit this new blog often — and send your friends>

  2. I have borrowed your poem three times in my life to honor three people who I thought embodied the sentiments of the poem. On each occasion, there were tears throughout the audience. It is, truly, an inspiring poem. I try to live my life so that someone will honor me with these words. Thank you for all you have done and for this awesome poem.

  3. Pingback: The Stature of Our Nation is on the Horizon | StatureOfOurNation.org

  4. Great poetry, great philosophy to live by!
    You’re really a breath of fresh air, a flagrant aroma.
    Keep up the good work.
    I am convinced you will be richly rewarded in this life and eternity!

  5. I loved being a teacher. I know that society and the government told me that what was important was test results. I always knew there was something more important. This poem sums up perfectly how I wanted to be remembered as a teacher. That is why I helped begin our anti-bully program. I wanted my kids to know that at least in my room they were safe! I continue that quest today. Thank you for a wonderful piece that also told my story!!!!!!! Jane

  6. Afternoon Michael

    I am the chairman of Harties Reflections Swimming club. I read your poem What will matter. It was truly inspiring. So much so, that I wanted to know if I can get your permission to publish the poem in our monthly newsletter.



  7. My brother was just 46 when he passed away two months ago in an ATV accident. He worked at our family business and my mom finally had the courage to go into his office two weeks ago. My mom found a copy of this poem taped to his wall and it brought so much peace to know it was so important to him. You see, my brother LIVED his life! He didn’t sit back and let his life direct him! He went out and made friends, he lived and worked with great integrity. He leaves behind 3 children and 7 grandchildren, 2 parents, 2 siblings, and countless friends and other family. After his death, we learned about all the people he had become friends with and we live in awe of the friend he was to those people!

  8. My supervisor gave me this poem back in 2003. She retired not long after but returned out of retirement to be a consultant. She was in my office and saw it and read it and really liked it and asked if she could make a copy. She did not remember that she was the one who gave it to me. She made a copy but I would like to present her with something nicer. I don’t know if you sell this in a frame or etched into wood or something like that but I would be interested in purchasing for her as a gift if I knew where to find it.

  9. Hello,
    How can i get a signed copy of a what will it matter poster? Ive tried going to the website to donate but have been unable to make a donation. Any help is much appreciated, thank you.

  10. I am a secretary at a Middle School and I saw this poem posted on one of our teacher’s bulletin boards. I didn’t have a chance to read it all but I read the first few lines and was struck. I came home and the first thing I did was look for it on google and here I am. What a beautiful poem. I am so moved and so touched and am reminded of what I want to create in my life. Thank you for writing this and thank you for sharing it with the world.


  11. Hello. Years and years ago, I cut out of our paper a copy of “What will it Matter” by Michael Josephson. In the poem I have there is a line different from all other copies on the internet. My copy states, “”It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. Your gender, skin color, ethnicity will be irrelevant.”

    The word “ethnicity” isn’t on any copies of the poem on the internet. Would this suggest it was added to the published copy I have? It’s very perplexing. Thank you inadvance for any information on this. I love this poem and have my treasured (yellowed and dogearred) copy posted on my wall.

  12. I have previously tried to sign up for your newsletter; however I never received it. I would very much like to receive it.

    Thank you,


  13. Hello Michael. Thank you for this beautiful poem. It perfectly captures my life philosophy too! I am writing a book about my sister who has a very powerful life story and who I believe is a greta example of a life that matters, I am using you poem as inspiration and basis for her story. I am acknowledging you and the poem in the book. Do I need any formal document or agreement with you for this?

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