“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time” – Abraham Lincoln
In last week’s post, we talked about the importance of the next decade. It feels like the ten years ahead of you is so far away, yet the last ten years seems to have gone so quickly. No matter what you think, feel or do in 3650 days, you WILL be that age you declared. It’s coming. Who will you be when that number is here?
For the record, I will be 44 on my next birthday in ten years. I can hardly imagine that! No offence to the forty plus leaders interacting here. I’m sure it’s real to you, just not to me. What makes it even more exciting is the age-old saying ‘life begins at forty’. That on its own carries a weight that just forces you to want to ready yourself for whatever that life begins at forty is.
Now, what will it take to make the next decade of your life the best decade of your life?
There is only ever a handful of things that will give you the most progress and momentum in the context of your life plan. Obviously, we may differ on what those might be, however here is my top four.
Destination. Know where you want to end up. Fred Smith said it best when he wrote, “Direction is better than goals.” That is so true. A goal measures progress but won’t set your direction. I once raced to get on a train and once on that train immersed myself in a book while the trip progressed. We met every goal we intended to. Stopped at every station we were meant to and only at the very last minute did I realise that I was on the wrong train. I accomplished every goal I was supposed to on the way to a destination I didn’t want. My direction was out from the beginning.
Take the time, do the work and put the effort in to have crystal clear clarity on where you want to end up. That’s your north star for the next season of your leadership, your personal development and your life planning. Be bold, be brave, be courageous.
Responsibility. Creation through ownership. Jim Rohn says most people ‘earn a living rather than designing a life.’ Jim is right. At its core, I believe that I must take personal responsibility for my life, attitude, choices and outcomes. Life happens when we decide that someone else is not to blame for our current situation and no one else is responsible for that except you. Yes, it can be favourably or unfavourably influenced by people, but in the midst of that, I can still choose who I am and what I focus on, and who I become.
This is entirely consistent with the faith perspective I have as well. What I have faith for, what I allow to be my most dominant thoughts and meditations, what I believe and lean into, all influence and make up my future. How I respond when things DON’T go my way, what I make that mean about God and community, are all elements in the personal responsibility journey.
Collaboration. We, is better than me. In the movie Gladiator, Maximus says in the midst of impending peril “Whatever comes out of these gates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together we survive.” Your next decade is exactly like that. If we work together we thrive. When you lean into positive relationships you exponentially increase your chances of success.
As much as I believe in personal responsibility, I equally believe that we don’t have every resource in us as individuals. We need to rely on, receive from, and give to the many relationships we have in our life. Work with people you know, love and trust to become that person you’d be delighted to meet. As Woodrow Wilson said ‘I use all the brains I have got and all the brains I can borrow.”
Movement. Prioritise progress and personal growth. Perfection should never be your goal. Progress, however, must be. A Chinese proverb says, “The person who hesitates spends life on one leg” You must recognise that you need to be consistently moving forward in a purposeful way. Keep learning, keep growing, stay curious, ask questions and elevate others. Create a process to take what you learn into and build it into your everyday life. Have a community of trusted friends that will be your “iron sharpening iron” team. Learn to read efficiently, keep up with what’s happening in the world. Be interested rather than interesting.
Above all, focus on the kind of personal growth that will add the most value to you and to your life plan. Ruthlessly jettison the rest. Say no more than yes and watch the cumulative effect of your yeses add so much value to your life and the others that you maintain the intrinsic motivation to continue. Dr Seuss paints the picture of progress as well as anyone can when he wrote, “The more you read, the more you’ll know; the more you learn, the more places you go!”
QUESTION: What principles have you found serve your future? I’d love you to share your thoughts in the comments section.