Don’t Leave Your 2021 Goals to Your Future Self
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This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want
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Publisher: Baker Books
Also available in audiobook, download now:
Have you ever felt like you are just meandering through life, rather than really living it, or as if you do not have a sense of direction? Or, on the other hand, are you pretty happy with your life so far but want to make the most of the time you have left? “Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want” by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy is a step-by-step guide to help make your life more enriching and fulfilling. So, get ready to learn how to create a plan that helps you get the most out of your life!
The authors begin with their own experiences of feeling like something wasn’t quite right with their lives, even though they were “successful” by such conventional measures as a high-level job and a great salary. They each realized that even though they were highly successful in one or two areas of their lives, some of the most important parts of their lives, such as their family and health, were being neglected. They saw where this could lead by looking at some of their colleagues who had gotten divorced or ended up in very poor health. This was their “wake-up call” that they needed to make some radical changes in their lives. They learned about the concept of Life Planning from a colleague, and began using it for themselves along with the business and leadership clients they worked with.
So what exactly is a Life Plan? As the authors explain, “A Life Plan is the app you need to stay on the path to the life you desire. Without a plan, chances are good you’ll end up at an unintended destination: an unhappy marriage, an unfulfilling career, in bad health, or all of the above.” Think of it as “a GPS for your life.” Developing and using a Life Plan doesn’t mean that your entire life is figured out, however, “but it will help you become an active participant in your life, intentionally shaping your own future.” Once you go through the processes and exercises the authors describe in this book, you will discover what you need to feel truly fulfilled in your life, in a way that you likely would not have imagined before.
By investing this time in yourself, you will be crafting a vision for your life as a whole, and come to understand what is vital to having a fulfilling life. Creating your own personal GPS will help you make the best decisions for your life, because they will be based on what’s just right for you. By becoming the best possible version of yourself, you will then be able “to make the most significant contribution in this world that you can and add the most value to those around you.”
Like the authors, many of us feel stuck or unfulfilled at some point in our lives - we “drift.” This can happen as a result of being unaware, distracted, or overwhelmed, and we eventually come to believe that we don’t have much control over our lives and can’t change anything. As a result, many of us never really plan our lives in any meaningful way, which is usually why “we arrive at destinations we don’t consciously choose.” Developing a Life Plan will help you avoid this by acknowledging where you are, deciding where you want to go, and then working toward that destination.
Before you begin creating your Life Plan, you first need to acknowledge that you have “drifted.” This is not to make you feel bad about yourself, but to help you move forward by taking stock of where you are. Next, you need to start thinking about your Life Plan in terms of what is most important to you, so that you can always refer to it when you lose your way. There are several benefits to this: it helps you clarify your priorities, face reality, envision the future, and avoid regrets. While it may not seem like it, every part of your life affects the other, it’s all connected. All of this will help make your Life Plan an ongoing practice that is incorporated into your life so that you can be an “active participant” instead of just a spectator.
A Life Plan has several important, unique components that separate it from anything else calling it the same thing (often offered by companies trying to sell you something you probably don’t need). First, a Life Plan is not meant to be a thick book, but something short - from about five to 15 pages, as it is meant to be easily read each day or week. A short document like this will have a great deal of impact. Second, the Life Plan is created for you, by you. Only you can provide the necessary information and goals to create it. Third, “it describes how you want to be remembered” when you are gone, giving you the chance to envision right now how you affect those you care about. Fourth, “it articulates your personal priorities,” not anyone else’s. This may be the first time in your life that you are thinking about and deciding your own priorities based only on what’s important to you. Fifth, it provides the specific actions for each aspect of your life to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. And finally, your Life Plan is a living document that you will adjust over the course of your life. Though it is difficult to create the plan from scratch, it will be much easier to make changes over time once you have it, as your priorities change and evolve.
Once you are convinced of the many ways a Life Plan will improve your life, you will be ready to go about actually creating it. The first step in this process is to think about what you want your legacy to be once you are gone. Imagine what you hope people will say about you at your funeral. Even if you are not famous, your life still matters and you will leave some sort of legacy. As an exercise, you should write your own eulogy based on the most important relationships in your life, and how you would want those people to remember you. These are known as Legacy Statements. Remember that anyone can create a Life Plan. Even if you are unhappy with the way your life has progressed so far, you can always make the most of the time you have left on Earth, starting right now.
Begin by listing your priorities based on what is important to you, not anyone else’s expectations. These priorities, such as yourself, your family, relationships, and job, are known as Life Accounts - similar to bank accounts that need to be replenished. Life Accounts are all interrelated - none is independent from the rest. Having these in mind will help you create your Life Assessment Profile, the goal of which is to keep a “positive balance” in each of your accounts, where you experience both passion and progress. Finally, you will put your Accounts into order of priority, making sure your personal needs are properly served so you can be fully available when you serve others.
Now it’s finally time to start acting. If you are truly committed to enacting this Life Plan, you will need to set aside a full day devoted to creating it - no excuses! Treat it as a day just for yourself with no other commitments - offline, away from others, and ready to have an attitude of openness and gratitude.
For each Account, you will create an Action Plan, which includes: a Purpose Statement, an Envisioned Future, an Inspiring Quote, a Current Reality, and Specific Commitments. Don’t worry about accomplishing all of this at once. Small, incremental daily changes are key to making your Life Plan successful for you. Adopting the mindset of taking small actions rather than sitting on the sidelines is all you need to begin making real changes in your life.
After spending a day working on your Life Plan, you are now ready to make it part of your daily life. To do this, you will need to assess your current schedule and eliminate whatever is not essential to your life, while strategically rescheduling whatever is still essential. Think of what your ideal week would include, if everything went your way. Incorporating this plan into your life will not be easy at first because it can be hard to say “no” to the things you previously said “yes” to. But by saying “no” to some things, you can say “yes” to what is really important to you and your Life Plan.
You should consider your Life Plan a living document that will change as you do. You should review and adjust it regularly (whether it is daily, weekly or yearly) as new priorities become important to you. Doing all of this on a regular basis will keep you on track so that you are creating the future for the life that you really want. This is hard work, but it will be worth it.
Once you’ve created and started using a Life Plan for yourself, the authors encourage you to get your colleagues at your organization to adopt one, too. Not only will it be good for them personally, but it will improve the organization as a whole because “self-leadership always precedes team leadership.” Also, just as every area of your life is interconnected, the same is true for your team and how your organization runs. Even if you are not the CEO or in executive leadership, you can get them on board by having them read this book, which will hopefully help them appreciate the process and want it for themselves and their employees.
The goal of the authors is to create a “Life Planning revolution” that will eventually change the world, because they believe that any kind of change must start at the individual level: “Real transformation happens when people take responsibility for their own lives and begin to live intentionally in every area. When they begin recovering their passion and start seeing progress, their lives change. Changed people result in changed families, schools, synagogues, churches, companies, and governments. And when this happens, you begin transforming culture in profound and lasting ways.” Life doesn’t have to feel like a chore. It can be all you want to be, but you just need to be willing to put in the work to make it happen - and you truly will see the benefits.
Real change is never easy, and it takes time to make it a serious part of your life. The same is true in creating and using a Life Plan. But acknowledging where you are and where you’ve come from and choosing to make the change is the first step in this process. It’s better to go through the hard work of trying to make change than to never try at all. As the authors note, “The power is in your hands. You have been given a great gift — your life. What will you do with it?”
If you feel like a spectator in your life instead of a real participant, you can change that by evaluating what is important to you and creating a Life Plan. This will help you live a life of real purpose and meaning.
Michael Hyatt is a former chairman and CEO in faith-based publishing, as well as a popular blogger, podcaster, and bestselling au... (Read more)
Daniel Harkavy is founder, CEO and executive coach at Building Champions, which coaches business leaders to improve perfo... (Read more)
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