Last week, I began to explore five beacons to guide us in the Present while Planning for 2014 and aligning to our Finish Line. Although I first learned of these 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, whether a day, a year or a lifetime away.
Let’s continue exploring the final three of the five beacons drawing us into the future.
3. “I choose to stay in touch with friends.”
According to Robin Dunbar (click here for his theory) we still–even in a social media saturated world–have meaningful relationships with about 5-12 people in our inner circle and 150 without whom we’d feel our life to be diminished. For many business owners, it’s too easy to allow business relationships overshadow long-standing personal relationships.
What about cultivating your friendship with your spouse? S/he is also your friend! Beginning today, here are some ideas on how you can cultivate that most important relationship:
Consider what you might do today, next year and in the future to keep this beacon of friendship lit–even at the end. A man who became both mentor and friend was in his early sixties and I a mere pup of 21 when we met. In his inimitable way, he reached across the decades and toward his Finish Line claimed, generously, that several of us “youngsters” in our 40s to 80s were the highlight of his life. Those of us who knew and loved him are friends and still meet once a month thanks to his friendship with each one of us.
4. “I choose to express my true feelings.”
Many of us are so busy multitasking that we ignore what feel, let alone bring that part of ourselves to our planning. As you look at your present, your 2014 and your Finish Line, consider the following questions:
- Am I aware of what I am feeling?
- Am I aware of times that I chicken out on expressing those feelings?
- Do I rehearse what I could say in a difficult situation?
- Do I actually say it?!
- Do I learn from either speaking up or suppressing those feelings?
Placating others—holding in your true feelings in relationships–comes with a price that’s too dear. You are the only “you” in the world. Without you expressing your true feelings both you and your world are diminished.
Some of you may remember the children’s book, Are You My Mother? It’s the tale of a baby bird who hatched when his mother was away and goes out in search of his mother/identity. The wonderful thing about finding your Mom, your true feelings, is that you’re freed up to be the bird you are. To do so is to avoid illnesses spawned by the resulting bitterness and resentment of not expressing your true feelings.
5. “I choose to work enough.”
Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. –Kahlil Gibran
The top regret of every male hospice patient Bronnie Ware worked with was that he had spent too much time on the treadmill of work.
Most of us have a natural tendency is to put off what’s important. As we look toward a particular future milestone, we believe that when we meet it, “then” we will do that important thing. I recall setting aggressive promotion and income goals when I worked for a large corporation. Once I achieved those goals, I oozed into the next ones, neglecting the Important. What I thought would be “enough” became a mere waypoint toward “more.”
Millennials have much to teach us here: they are masterful at living in the present. Alternatively, Boomers have much to teach us as well; they plan as though that treadmill matters. Just as light can be described as both particle-like and wave-like, so too, these approaches to determining enough work can make a single beacon into the future.
Here are some questions we tackle in answering how much is enough:
- Is enough work maximizing our social security benefits?
- Is enough work funding a particular cause?
- Is it freeing time for the relationships I care about?
- Is it setting organic or programmatic growth?
As you plan 2014, be sure to integrate all of your life into the plan!
Consider adding to your business plan for 2014 broad objectives that encompass
- Personal growth
- Physical fitness
- Mental and spiritual fitness
- Time with family and friends
In past years, my wife and I set goals around key relationships we wanted to nurture in the coming year, numbers of trips to the mountains, number of trips to visit kids, and the like.
If you do so, you can back into what “enough” work is. When you think you know what “enough” is, ask yourself:
“From my Finish Line, will I think this is too much?”
- FRIENDS: Look at your calendar over the last month and ask yourself, “Am I happy with the amount of contact I’ve had with my best friends?” If your answer is yes, pat yourself on the back! If no, who do you want to set up that date with and when will you do it?
- FEELINGS: Consider a draining interchange you’ve had in the last 24 hours. Reflect on what you said. When were you sharing your true feelings? What else might you have shared?
- WORK: Are you “living to work” or are you “working to live”? Are you happy with the amount of work you’re doing and plan to do in 2014 and beyond?