.”Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want”, is to me, a timeless book with so many nuggets, and honestly trying to contain it in a review doesn’t feel complete but I will start with a quote from the book.
The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you are not going to stay where you are – J. P. Morgan
If I was to summarize the biggest lesson I got from reading this book, it would be that it simply enabled me to create a life plan, a concert document that will continue to help set the stage for what I want in my life; making every moment of my life intentionally set towards achieving the life I want.
One of the biggest things we need to acknowledge and be truthful to ourselves about is the need to know if we are living the life we want to live or living someone else’s plans for our life. We need to acknowledge the drift and know that it is never too late to change our lives to become all we want it to become.
One of the lessons the authors keep on pointing out is that self-leadership always precedes team leadership and a life plan can be one of the most powerful tools to help you best lead yourself.
A life plan helps you become an active participant in your life, intentionally shaping your future.
But why do you need a life plan you might wonder – the authors gives some benefits
- Clarifying priorities
Having a life plan helps clarify your priorities. You begin to realize that work isn’t your whole life it is only one aspect; an important one but not the exclusion of everything else.
- Maintaining balance
A life plan helps you maintain balance in your life, however, the author made me realize that balance does not mean applying equal resources to every area of life. Balance only happens in dynamic tension (unclear). Balance is not giving equal but appropriate attention to each of the various categories of your life. This will necessarily mean that some categories get more time and some less, but each will get the attention and resources necessary to keep it moving towards an intentional outcome.
- Filtering opportunities
This enables us to have the ability to say yes to what truly matters and no to almost everything else.
- Facing reality
You can’t get where you want to go unless you start with where you are; You can’t improve what you won’t face and own.
- Envisioning the future
What do you want in each major categories of your life what would they look like in their ideal state? Pull power – your goal needs to draw you.
- Avoiding regrets
People lose their way when they lose their why.
So what then you might ask, is a life plan?
A life plan is a short written document, usually eight to fifteen pages long. It is created by you for you. It describes how you want to be remembered. It articulates your personal priorities. It provides the specific actions necessary to take you from where you are to where you want to be in every major area of your life. It is most of all, a living document that you will tweak and adjust as necessary, for the rest of your life
Questions a life plan makes us think about are
1. How do I want to be remembered?
2. What matters most?
3. How can I from here, get to where I want to be?
How do we create a life plan?
There are 5 major steps in creating a life plan
Step one: Write your eulogy
All external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things fall away in the face of death leaving only what is truly important – Steve Jobs
The end usually determines everything else – the characters you include in your story, the roles they play in your life (and you in theirs), the projects you initiate and the way you conduct your affairs.
The first step is writing out your eulogy like it was being read today.
A Eulogy is a good word about your life
People will tell stories about you and express to others what you truly meant to them. Imagine you could attend your funeral and listen in to those conversations.
What would those closest to you remember about your life what would they say?
What stories would they tell one another?
Would those stories make them laugh, cry, sigh or all three?
How would they summarize what your life meant to them?
Our days add up to a lifetime and what we do each day counts to what people will remember us for. But the good news is, you can still influence the conversation that will happen once you are gone.
A sub-step is to write a legacy statement
Our legacy comprises the spiritual, intellectual, relational, vocational and social capital we pass on. It is the sum total of the beliefs we embrace, the values we live by, the love we express and the service we render to others. It is the ‘you shaped stamp’ you leave when you go. The truth is everyone is in the process of creating and leaving a legacy. The question is not will you will a legacy, but what kind of legacy will you leave?
So, the goal is to approach step 1 like a 2-step process.
The first, write your eulogy as if it were being read today;
The second step is to craft a series of legacy statements as you would hope they would be read at some point in the future.
To create your legacy statement, identify your key relationships
The important thing to note is that these people represent the groups you can still influence. As long as they and you are alive, you can have a positive impact.
Describe how you want to be remembered by each group.
Make your legacy statement as compelling as you can
Step 2: Establish your life account
Your life account is made up of three concentric circles emanating from the centre – you.
- The circle of being – relates to you it includes your spiritual, intellectual and physical account.
- The circle of relating -centres on you in relation to others. It includes your marital, parental and social account(e.g friendship, church, book club and so on)
- Circle of doing – dealings relating to your output. It includes your vocation (job), avocation (hobbies) and your financial account.
A typical life account can include
You can personalize and customize your list so it works well for you and try to keep it under 10 accounts
Step 3: Determine the condition of your account
The goal here is thinking of your life account as a bank account and reviewing its balance.
Some accounts can be growing – you have more than you need
Some accounts have a consistent balance – you have what you need
Some accounts have a declining balance – you have less than you need
There are four main conditions your account might be experiencing
Drift – this is a state of no passion, no progress
Lift – this is a state of having passion, but not experiencing progress
Shift – this is a state of experiencing progress without passion
Gift – the state of experiencing both passion and progress
The goal is to have positive balance in each of your life accounts. People have a positive balance when they experience Passion and Progress
Passion relates to your enthusiasm for a specific life account,
Progress relates to the result you are getting in a specific life account.
The point is your life is a collection of accounts and each of them requires the right attention.
If you are finding it difficult to give an appropriate score or category for each of your life accounts, the author created a life assessment test to help you on this go to click on HERE to take the test.
Step 4: Prioritize your life account
In this step, I learnt that having priorities is essential, and so is having them in the right order.
Arrange your life accounts in priority, from the most important to the least important – all of them are important but not all of them have the same importance.
Ranking your life account forces you to decide what takes precedence if push comes to shove and shoving will happen guaranteed
Ask what is the most important account on my list? what is the one I would not be willing to sacrifice no matter what?
And remember that You can’t take care of anyone else unless you first take care of yourself so put yourself and your self-care as one of the first accounts.
Step 5: Create the Life Plan by filling out each life account
How do you do this? You complete 5 key areas for each life account you selected earlier. For each account you will;
1.Draft a purpose statement that identifies your roles and responsibility in this account
2. Envision a future you want for this account; use present tense and write down what that looks like
3. Include an inspiring quote or verse that helps you connect emotionally with your purpose and the future you envisioned
4. State your current reality – good, bad or ugly. The more honest you are, the easier it is to see what needs to change
5. Finally, make specific commitments that detail the actions you need to take from your current reality to your envisioned future -Using the SMARTER principles (read more here)
And viola!!! — You have your life plan to help you get a concrete example. I would share my life account on what I title my physical health and body (this is as at May 2020)
To be a healthy me every day to take proper stewardship of this body God has given me in every area
My envisioned future
I am never sick ever
I have strength and vitality every day
My skin is radiant and beautiful
My hair is growing daily with no dandruff
My tummy is flat and I can wear lovely bikinis
I have beautiful white teeth
I exercise daily
I only eat healthy meals and snack on fruit
I take lots of water I love water
I meditate daily and practise mindfulness and gratitude
I go on sabbaticals every 7th week and 7th year
My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and I am a steward of God’s temple.
I am not eating a balanced diet (I don’t even fully know what a balanced diet is)
I currently exercise every day
I still have some signs of pain
I don’t sleep enough
I haven’t had a sabbatical
I struggle to find time for meditation and mindfulness
I like water but it’s still a struggle
I take fruits regularly now
My teeth, hair, body need more work to be done; seeing progress but more work yet in these areas
Finish Shaw Academy course on Nutrition. Google and study what a balanced diet is before December 2020
Continue to study divine health
Go and wash my teeth – book a dental appointment
Continue to use hair and skin products bought
Sabbatical – start a one-day sabbatical
Sleep by 11 am, wake up by 6 am (Thanks to COVID 19 )
I hope my example helped you get it
To create this plan the author suggests dedicating one full day. Personally speaking, you should do this because it takes a lot of energy and concentration and you don’t want to start and continue at another time, there is a flow that just happens when you can start and finish it. So, yes. Dedicate one day to creating your life plan.
After the Life Plan what next?
After creating your life plan the next thing you need to do is implement and review it continuously
How do you implement it?
- Triage your calendar
With regards to your calendar, triage means you must know which things you can safely cancel or reschedule and which ones demand your participation
Protect the basic -Review your current appointments and ask how they relate to your life account priorities
Eliminate the non-essentials. Realize things that are not really important and cancel them or see how you can handle them another way
Reschedule some of what matters – some things are important but are not important now.
- Schedule your priorities
The goal here is not to have fewer commitment but the right commitment
Two tools to achieving this –
- Ideal week
- Annual time block
Your ideal week is the week you would like if you could control 100 per cent of what happens
Ensure each day has a theme and each day is also segmented according to a specific focus area
Your Annual time block
This tool enables you to put the big rocks into your calendar first so the important is not overwhelmed by the urgent. The best way to do this is to claim your calendar before someone else does
Begin by scheduling the most non-discretionary things and move to the most discretionary things like birthdays and anniversaries. Other things you can schedule are; holidays, industry events, vacations, board meeting, business review meeting, time with friends, etc.
The main thing is to grab dates while you can before someone else does. We would rather have other people plan around our priorities than be forced to plan around theirs. Remember if you don’t have a plan for your life someone else does
- Learn to say no with grace
He teaches a concept he learnt from a book called ‘A Positive No’ by William Ury
A positive no begins with a ‘Yes’ and ends with a ‘Yes, here’s how it’ll work’
Yes – it begins by saying yes to yourself and protecting what is important to you. We would add the importance of affirming the person making the request
No- it continues with a matter of fact no that sets clear boundaries we recommend. You avoid leaving the door open by saying maybe next time
Yes – a positive no ends with a Yes that affirms the relationship and offers another solution to the person’s request.
How do you keep it alive? – You review it
The secret to staying atop of your priorities is to schedule regular times for review and reflection.
1. Start by reading your plan daily – For the first 90 days read out loud your life plan
2. Review your plan weekly
3. Tweak your quarterly plan – It is like an extended weekly review where you have two main agenda
- Review your life plan – read through it without editing then begin the revision process
- Write goals for the upcoming quarter
Take the review of your life plan and translate it into specific 90 days goals or objectives
Making appointments with yourself and scheduling other things around them is the key to proactive self-management
- Revise your plan yearly
This is the Time to take an extended look at your plan. Evaluate what you have accomplished over the past year and determine where you want to go in the next
The next thing is spreading this idea to your teams, family and the people in your life
To end this review you need to know that the power is in your hand. You have been given a great gift – your life. What will you do with it?
Let us endeavour to live so that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry – Mark Twain
You can get the book from Amazon here
** The link above is an affiliate link – meaning when you buy through the link I get a small percentage