Continuing as you are now, and looking back at age 90, what will you feel – satisfaction or regret? You know what’s required to make it an extraordinary life, don’t you?
One of the questions in my pre executive coaching questionnaire is to imagine looking back on your life at age 90 and reflecting on what you would have achieved with it. If you continued exactly as you are today, would you be looking back more with satisfaction or perhaps regret? What would it take to change that? To “turn up the volume” and make the picture more compelling?
Recently a client responded to this point that suggested they didn’t want to have lived “an ordinary life”. We quickly reframed that along the lines of Moving Away versus Moving Towards and he ended up affirming to want to have lived “an extraordinary life”. What a great affirmation.
I have had a wonderful break over this Festive Season with my 92 year old father visiting us from Africa. We think it extraordinary that he is still able and willing to take on such an arduous journey at that age and we with our adult children all certainly appreciated and enjoyed reflecting on his extraordinary life so far together with him. So one of our goals coming up is how (and where) we will be able to join him to celebrate his 95th.
You know, I have learned that most people that are considered “extraordinary” are just “ordinary” people that have done something “extra”. They have persevered at something worthwhile, like I described in Dancing until it rains. They have learned that to “see a mile” you have to “walk a mile” first but that having walked the mile you are then able to see another mile and so on until you realize that you are at age 90 looking back and are amazed at all the miles you’ve seen and the miles you’ve walked.
Co-incidence or planned?
That all sounds a little “drifty”, doesn’t it? As though “things will just happen” along the way? Whilst that is certainly desirable to enjoy the journey and appreciate what you experience and learn along the way, and to “go with the flow”, I have learned that the extraordinary does need some planning and strategising etc. I have learned that everything and anything worthwhile usually starts out as a dream or a vision in somebody’s mind and is usually followed up with some sort of plan.
The difference between one of those “one day I’m going to….” dreams and those that are turned into reality is usually that:
- they are written down and committed to (invoking the “Law of Attraction”)
- then they are planned
- before they are carried out by the necessary actions
- and subject to some form of measurement and progress monitoring
- plus the most successful ones have someone appointed to hold their “creator” accountable for fulfilling them.
I have found that a well rounded life, which is well balanced between work and play as well as including a few more other dimensions beyond those is usually a platform that results in a life reflection of satisfaction rather than regret.
I like to use the “Wheel of Life”, which my clients find to be a great tool to help them map out key areas of their life that they might want to use more structure in pursuing them with. I find the link: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_93.htm very useful for this.
Of course this will want to span the larger and longer term “big picture” of your life and your life’s work. The breakdown may well be in terms of decades or years or perhaps you might also prefer to link them to “life chapters”.
What’s it going to take?
So what is it going to take for you to map out some of these life dreams and relevant strategies that will set you on a focused journey to really make a significant difference in your life, in that of your loved ones and those you are responsible to and for? So that your life can end up as your “masterpiece”?
What will inspire you to think really big? Who might inspire you? Are you going to live your life day by day, week by week, month by month and get to the end of the year (anyway) and looking back on this year and say – “oh well, another year gone by: ho- hum”?
Or are you going to be inspired to map out some really worthwhile “beings, doings and goings” that you will want to have achieved at some point in your life? Go on, why not consider some things that deep down you know you feel really passionate about? Some things that will make a real difference? To you. To those around you? To those that will follow you? So that your great grandchildren will still speak glowingly of who you were and what you achieved when they are adults?
(By the way – did you notice I haven’t included any “havings” in the above list? At this big picture level I have found that in the scheme of things, the havings” actually feature much less than the others. )
Also, please don’t underestimate how much of an impact you will have on others around you and looking at and to you as you map out and live “an extraordinary life” – how much you will inspire them too.
However, nobody can do this “for you”. You might find some people that might want to accompany you and do this “with you”, but at the end of the day this is your journey. The cliché: “if it’s going to be – it’s up to me” is most appropriate here.
I remember hearing Bev Brock speaking once where she (paraphrased) said: “Why is everyone so cautious and fearful? Why is everyone so intent on being buried in a “pristine condition”? I’d far rather have the battle scars of a full on life of “living, playing, daring and loving” and arrive at my funeral “spent and content” that “I had a go”. What a marvelous attitude and outlook!
So what if you did find yourself a couple hours and map out a handful of longer term and bigger picture “things, beings, doings and goings” that you really feel strongly and passionately about? What if you just wrote them down? And what if you put some rough time frames to them? Like: “by the time my children leave home, I will…..” or maybe: “for my 60th birthday I am going to have achieved the…..” and then map out some broad parameters and ideas on what it is going to take to achieve them.
Having done that you can look at them again each new decade and then also each new year and strategise and plan what you might need to do to work towards their fulfillment.
You know that most people spend more time each year planning an annual holiday than they ever spend planning their year, let alone considering what they would seriously like to achieve in their life?
Are you going to be one of those or is this year going to be different? Is this “the first year of the rest of your life” and it is going to be a remarkable journey from here on?
And if you feel inspired by this but don’t know how to go about it, why not find a coach to help you and then hold you accountable to doing what it takes?
What if you could?