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You can either live the life you want or the life that others choose for you. Most people don’t actively pick one of the other. When we’re children we do what our parents tell us to do or rebel against them. Both mean someone else is deciding on our life path. Once out of high school we tend to follow the customs of being in college, the military, or entering the work force. Some conventions are fine, even laudatory. But often, only as we approach mid to later life, do we realize how much of our lives aren’t what we wanted them to be.
The good news is it’s never too late to start living the life you want.
You Can’t Arrive at an Unknown Destination
The biggest hurdle to living an intentional life is knowing what you really want. Unlike two or three generations ago, most of us have a bewildering number of choices. Deciding among such a vast array can be challenging. As well, you may unwittingly limit yourself by being very clear about one area of your life, say professional success, to the neglect of the other domains of your life.
Frequently I see veterans struggling with this issue. Life in the service is clear-cut. Career paths are set. Deployments occur fairly regularly and everything else takes a back seat to the needs of the military. But when they re-enter civilian life all the constraints are gone. They drift. Unhappiness sets in. They don’t know why.
The solution: Create a life plan that identifies where you want to go in life and how to get there.
Plan Your Life
As a long time follower of Michael Hyatt’s work, I am honored to be on the launch team for his new book. Written with Daniel Harkavy, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want lays out a compelling case for writing a life plan. Short and to the point, it can be read in one sitting.
Like Michael's first book, Platform, the prose is well crafted to get you to take action. It guides you step-by-step through a simple process designed to get you in touch with the deepest desires in your life and then commit them to paper. Then it lays out a simple plan for integrating your blueprint into your life and making it a reality.
If you’re brand new to life planning Living Forward gives a solid strategy for taking control of your life’s direction. While I didn’t check them out, the online resources undoubtedly make the process even easier. If you are a veteran life planner like me, it has several ideas well worth adopting.
The book has two shortcomings:
- Both Michael and Daniel are established professionals who have significant financial resources at their command. The balance they advocate is much more easily attained at their stage in life then it is for someone struggling financially. The book would have been enhanced by some advice as to how to deal with competing interests beyond being intentional about the decisions you make. How did they attain the kind of professional success they have while maintaining solid marriages and relationships with their children? What life planning issues should their readers be aware of to avoid potential problems?
- Once your plan is written, Michael and Daniel advise reading it every day for the first 90 days and then at least weekly thereafter. Undoubtedly this effectively integrates it into your life. Better would be going through an extraction process whereby your life plan is distilled to a personal mission statement. Clarity comes not just from writing a plan, but from understanding it well enough that you can express it in a short, simple statement.
Notwithstanding these omissions, Living Forward stands as the book on life planning. If you are ready to stop drifting, join the revolution Michael and Daniel advocate and use this valuable resource to help chart the course of your life.
Do you have a life plan? Please comment below.