Last week, we covered the questions that need answering for your eulogy. The eulogy exercise is about your relationships. When it is all said and done, our lives will be the sum total of the impact we made on others. Those left behind will not celebrate all that we have accumulated or the monuments we erected. They will focus on how we showed up in their lives. Success and impact are not mutually exclusive. If done correctly, these two will multiply your influence.
The Ideal Future State
Now that you have clarified how you need to show up in your relationships, it is time to create your ideal future state. My coach, Dan Sullivan, uses a question he calls the R-factor. “Three years from today, what would have to happen in your personal and professional life for you to be satisfied with your progress.” Write out your answers. Be specific about what you desire. How will you feel (health)? What will you have accomplished? Who will be a part of your life (relationships)? How will you show up for others (service)? What will be your ideal financial situation in three years?
Poverty is infinitely more challenging than success. The major difference between the two is our focus. Unfortunately, we train ourselves to focus on what we don’t want. The key is to focus on what we do want. Imagine that you are on a treasure hunt. You spent at least 12 years preparing for the treasure hunt (formal education). You hear stories about others that have discovered their treasure and are eager to begin the quest for yours. One problem, you don’t have a treasure map. You decide to start by looking at the maps used by others. Your parents, bosses, friends, and celebrities influence your direction. You set sail on the vast ocean in search of your treasure. No compass. No map. Only hope.
The chance of finding your treasure without a map is equivalent to your chance of winning the lottery. You begin the quest full of ambition and aspiration. In time you begin to lose hope. The storms seem to get stronger each day. Instead of pursuing your treasure, you spend your days bailing water out of the boat and making repairs. The journey has taken its toll on your ambition. Finally, you wash up an island. It isn’t the island you had imagined, but at least you are no longer lost at sea. You search the island for your treasure. No luck, so you give up. Here is where you will remain until forced to leave.
The treasure hunt without a map is the same as a life without a vision. After you have defined your treasure, it is up to you to draw the map.
Creating the Action Plan
If you are serious about resetting your life, you will need a plan. The only way to out of your current situation is by taking action. In step one, we accepted responsibility for our lives. In step two, we got clear on how we want to show up, who we want to experience life with, and how we will serve. Now we go.
Exercise: Again, we have a series of questions to answer. What are the steps required to realize my vision? Write them out. What skills will I need to develop, and who can help me? Who can I study? What is the next action? It is important to be specific when describing your action plan. If you are unclear about what your next move should be, ask for help. Who has traveled the road you are on? Don’t be proud. Be curious. Who can help? What is a reasonable time to allow yourself to achieve this step?
Example: I want to be capable of walking five miles within three months.
- Buy a pair of walking shoes.
- Find an accountability partner (ideal but not necessary)
- Determine precisely when you will walk each day.
- Put on your shoes and walk a half-mile.
- Walk a mile, two miles, three miles.
- Celebrate your progress.
- Count your steps.
- Share your experience with others and encourage them to join you.
- Be grateful that you are capable of walking.
- What is next? 10 miles? 5K run?
The example above is simple. Step three should not be complicated. Keep it simple, or you will quit. People often don’t start because the plan they created was too complicated. They become overwhelmed.
Evaluate Your Progress & Course Correct
Remember that you are on an epic journey called your life. You are going for it. Head down and digging in. You must look up from time to time to check progress. Here is the challenge for most of us. We measure our progress based on our ideal future state. The better method is to measure our progress from where we started. Why does it matter? Dan Sullivan tells us about the Gap. The Gap is the distance from where we are to where we want to go. Too often, we live in the Gap and become discouraged or depressed. The alternative is to celebrate our progress from where we started.
Why is it so important to check progress? When a plane takes off from LAX en route to New York’s JFK airport and is one degree off course, it will arrive in Washington DC. Only one degree! Imagine identifying your ideal destination, activating your action plan, and arriving at a place completely different from where you had intended. This situation is easily avoidable.
Exercise: Each quarter (every three months) take a day and go to the library or any quiet place. Bring your journal and your plan (treasure map). How are you doing? How are you progressing? What is working for you, and what is not working for you? How are you tracking versus your plan? What adjustments should you consider making to your plan? The beauty of being human is that humans can choose thanks to our prefrontal cortex. Only humans are capable of observing their situation and making changes. We can change, but to do so wisely must check our progress.
Now is the time for a reset.
Did this pandemic allow you an opportunity to reduce stress? Did it help remind you of what truly matters? We over-complicate our lives in pursuit of stuff that we will soon discard. We set sail without a map and settle for less than we are capable of achieving. Deep down, each of us desires to live our Full Potential but have never learned how. All that is required of you to begin living your Full Potential is to implement these four simple steps. Accept responsibility for your current situation. Develop a vision for your ideal future. Create a plan to help you navigate toward your ideal future. Check your progress and adjust your sails.