This is the season of anticipation. Last week I talked about the unusual temporal turducken we just experienced. We, like that dish of a chicken nested in a duck nested in a turkey, experienced an extended weekend beginning with Hanukkah, middling with Thanksgiving and “begending” with Advent.
As I reflect on conversations with business owners, I see that the end of a year provides us with another temporal turducken–the trilemma of living today, planning for the next year and awareness of our longing for a legacy. We are wrapping up 2013—completing projects, invoicing, preparing for end of year accounting. We are also ramping up plans for 2014. And for those of us walking with the gift of loved ones approaching death, we are acutely aware of both their imminent departure and the legacy we want for ourselves.
Let’s listen to the wisdom of those have already passed on. What if we were to live in the Present while Planning for 2014 and aligning to our Finish Line (the ultimate liminal dimension)? While I first learned of the following as five regrets, I have reframed them as five powerful beacons lighting our way into our legacy. If we are clear about where we are and where we want to end up, 2014 planning, important as it is, becomes a mere waypoint toward our Finish Line–be it in a day, a year or a lifetime away.
What are these five beacons illuminating us into the future?
The first two have to do with who we are–our authenticity and happiness. You get to be your own best parent if you begin planning your turducken with these two first two beacons:
1. “I choose to live a life true to myself.”
Those approaching death framed this as a regret: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I believe this smoldering candle can be re-lit as a positive intention: I choose to live a life true to myself. Whatever we pay attention to, positively or negatively, is what we end up aiming for. If you’re skiing through trees and focus on missing the trees, you’re more likely to hit one. If, instead, you focus on the path through the trees, you’re more likely to get through them unscathed! So if you focus on fending off other’s expectations of you, you’re more likely to succumb to them.
My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.
Being true to yourself begins with knowing who you are and being committed to being yourself. If you haven’t done so already, consider taking some time in your planning to utilize a tool that emphasizes what your strengths are. (See the toolkit below for suggestions).
My personal current favorite is the Enneagram: it provides a more holistic and nuanced view of what motivates you and what holds you back and also a framework for living out of your authentic self.
“The morning glories and the sunflowers turn naturally toward the light, but we have to be taught, it seems.”
― Richard Rohr
2. “I choose to let myself be happy.”
Think of the one thing any good parent wishes for her kid: “I just want Jonnie to be happy.” When you view your life from within any one of your three time frames—present, 2014 or your legacy–consider asking yourself the following:
- Am I putting myself in situations I love? Do I feel happy as I consider my calendar or my Quickbooks reports?
- Am I spending time with people I enjoy? Do I get to laugh and be silly? (Really).
- Am I considering my true self and my desires as strongly as those I am in relationships with?
- Do my plans enhance my mental, physical and spiritual health?
- Do my plans create peace? Or do they arouse my inner “grrr?” (Grr = the inner whining or growling precipitated by something you either hate or are not good at).
Authenticity and happiness are the foundations upon which to live into your legacy.
- AUTHENTICITY: Consider a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being “Not at all” and 5 being “Completely.” How would you rate how much you’ve been true to yourself today? this last week? What do you intend to do differently tomorrow?
Consider taking the Enneagram to increase your self-knowledge.
- HAPPY: What is the one thing you can do to increase your happiness?