Strategic planning has the sound of dull - boring - labor intensive WORK. Yet a life of meaning and purpose doesn't just happen. Our world is naturally prone to atrophy and death. If we don't intentionally, strategically, purposefully DECIDE what our life will be, it will only slip and slide toward death without legacy.
90% of us move through the day without any real plan for where we're headed - except to bed - so we can start all over again tomorrow.
What if I told you you could stop the rat race, create a plan that makes sense, is fun, and will set you up for a great ending? Would you want to know how?
The End from the Beginning
Stephen Covey is famous for 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and for the Franklin-Covey organization. The book and its concepts create life change for millions. His one idea is a multi-million dollar enterprise. (Hint. Hint.)
Just in case you haven't read the book, here is a list of the 7 Habits:
- Be Proactive
- Begin with the End in Mind
- Put First Things First
- Think Win/Win
- Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
- Sharpen the Saw
Number 2 is our focus today. However, I submit to you this idea doesn't originate with Covey, but with God.
"I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." Isaiah 46:10
Thus, I submit to you, since the God of the universe made a plan, and it all started with the end in mind, then perhaps it's a good strategy for us, too.
I call it, Thinking From the End.
How Do You Want It All to End?
As a student of personal development, you know this question - "What is your why?".
My coaching clients consider their Perfect Life Day. In essence, you develop a picture of what everything looks like when all the plans come together beautifully. We create practices to move life and work in that direction. Recently, I've discovered that scenario doesn't go far enough. We need to go even further down the road. All the way down to the day we're about to take our last breath in life. It's not what others say about you. And, I'm not talking about writing your obituary.
I want you to consider what your last day on life would be filled with wishing you had done or accomplished.
Think about the regrets of what haven't been done and the joy of what you have done. Decide now to live a life and create a business that answers those questions.
Death is Inevitable. Life is Optional.
My road, like yours, is filled with life-shifting moments. But, I've had two life and death crossroads moments.
When I was about 27, I contracted chickenpox pneumonia. My life was sustained by a respirator for 10 days. I died. Yes. I died. The full story is a miraculous, holy event and I won't go into it here. Let's just say, I carried a new perspective on life - for awhile.
Yes, for months I was an appreciative, glowing example of holy fire and gratitude for even the smell of the air. Inevitably, the responsibility of raising two sons, caring for a husband and housework took over the sense of wonder.
Again in 2012, the specter of death and life hovered over us when my Richard was diagnosed with the worst stage (Stage III) of Multiple Myeloma and Renal Cell Carcinoma. He teetered-and-tottered on the brink of death for years. In fact, our daughter-in-love calls him Dodge - because he dodged death time and again.
Over a span of four years, we zigged and zagged through life, trying to find a new normal.
See us today and you would never know the miraculous events that sustained my Richard, kept us out of bankruptcy and put me on the path I am on today. We look like any other middle-aged couple.
Yet this time - I choose life - not existence. There is a difference.
Death to Trivia
You get to choose.
That's my number one advice to clients. YOU get to CHOOSE!
Is your life filled with things that do not bring you joy? Why do you tolerate them?
Are you in a job or career that doesn't ring with purpose? Why?
Do you tolerate people who tear you down? Why?
Are you overweight, under loved, passive or unmotivated? Do you float through your days? Why?
On your last day, will the best coverlet on the bed be the most important, or the hand of your children and grandchildren?
Will you wish you had gone to Hawaii, or to Madrid, or to the mountains? Do you have a plan in place today to make it happen?
Will you wish you had fought over the right to be right, or the smile of your son?
Get rid of the junk and and make room for life.
Legacy, Lineage and Life
When was the last time you laughed? I mean REALLY laughed? Who were you with? What were you doing? Do more of that.
When was the last time you cried for joy and thankfulness? Where where you? Who were you with? Do more of that.
Most of us don't have the privilege of leaving a bankroll of money for our children and grandchildren. Yet, you do have the ability to leave them a legacy. You do have the choice to leave them a story. You do have the right to show them how to live. And die.
Even if you have totally screwed everything up until now - as long as you are alive - you can change things for the better.
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Romans 12:2
You can't fix everything, but you can change some things. Your road begins today. Right now. Right as you read this. You can decide to leave a different story behind. You can decide to make a new start and create a new ending.
But, you can't do what I did with my first life-altering moment. You can't fall back into routine. You MUST decide what you want and then identify how to get there.
Think From the End
It isn't hard to figure it out. Do these three simple steps - over and again.
- Decide what you want the end point to be.
- Take one step back and decide what has to happen to get to the point: what has to be in place, where you need to be, who you need to be.
- Repeat - until you get to where you are today.
- Voila'! You have a roadmap!
For instance, Richard and I are going to return to Hawaii. It's our hope - it must become our plan.
In order to travel to Hawaii we need transportation, a place to stay and money to spend. All of those things can be easily calculated and figured out. Yet if we don't invest the time to do the planning, we'll just wish and never go.
We plan to fund our grandchildren's education. Again, a plan makes it possible.
What is the ONE THING you will want to know at the end of your life here on earth? If you don't know, invest some time thinking about it. If you do know, invest some time and make a plan.
My Death Bed Story
As I was lying helpless in the hospital, about to be placed on a respirator, I had one thought. I told my mother, "take care of my babies." On my death bed, I want to know these things:
1) My family knows I love them.
2) I played in the sand on the beach.
3) I served without reserve.
4) I taught my sons how to be dreamers and doers of the dream.
5) I taught others how to live a Living At My Best life.
6) I led people to trust in Jesus Christ.
7) I created a plan bigger than myself that I am leaving in the hands of others to continue.
8) I am leaving life only because I am satisfied.
9) I lived young in heart, strong in spirit, filled with gratitude and eternally hopeful for good.
Therefore, since I intend to have those things THEN, I do something about them NOW. I am intentional about time with my family. The message I declare is purposeful. I give daily attention to my relationship with Christ. Business planning is both holy and strategic. I cultivate a young attitude and refuse to get "old."
On the day my mother passed into heavenly glory, all I could think about were all the times I wish I had called or traveled to see her. Regret is simply a part of life. There's no perfect journey, but we can be more intentional.
What do you want your story to be? Write it now. Begin today.
Live At Your Best! Live Inspired!
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