I recently took a retreat weekend for a “mid-life reset”. (You can read about my fasting experience during my retreat at http://davidscotts.blog/fitness-over-50/hiit-and-run). I took several tools with me for the weekend, including the book “Living Forward” by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. I’ve been planning this retreat for a long time. Case in point: I scheduled the weekend for May 29-June 2, 2019. I bought this book March 4, 2016. I guess you could say I don’t do anything on a whim.
Even though it took me two years to get to it, Living Forward didn’t disappoint. It was an invaluable tool for my Reset Weekend, and will be even more valuable if I continue in the plan it helped me create.
The book’s purpose is “ten chapters that take you on a journey through realizing your need for a Life Plan, the process of creating one, and the encouragement to make it happen. It’s all about equipping you to fill your days with the decisions that enable you to live a more intentional life.” (p. 22)
The Life Plan
Hyatt and Harkavy take you step-by-step through the Life Planning process with lots of examples. In fact, there’s an appendices that’s packed with examples. What you find is that although there is a defined process, it can be customized for your own preferences and life situation.
You start in classic Covey fashion (Stephen Covey, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”) by beginning with the end in mind. You literally write your own eulogy from the perspective of the people who know you best. Imagine walking through the crowd at your own funeral, eavesdropping on the conversations. What would you want to hear? Once you define how you want to be remembered, you begin working backward, planning to make that happen.
The next steps involve defining “Life Accounts”, the key relationships and activities that are a priority for you, and putting together concrete purpose statements and action steps to nurture those relationships into the the picture you defined in Step 1 (your eulogy). I won’t bore you with all of mine, but I’ll share with you a few that were important for me:
My Life Accounts
Wife / Marriage
As Stacey’s husband, my job is to know that she is loved in the same way that Christ loves the church. I encourage her, build her up, provide for her, serve her and lead her. Together our marriage is an insight into God’s love for our children and the people who come into our lives.
Stacey and I love to be around each other. Our weekly dates are full of fun and intimacy, both emotionally and physically. Because we’ve conquered our demons, we are able to help our kids conquer theirs. Our finances are in order, our careers are where we want them to be, and we have time to travel and serve others.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”, Eph. 5:25
Short Term Goals / Specific Commitments
- Regular (weekly) text messages and affirming notes
- Purposeful weekly dates
- Tackle “to do” list of house problems
I will be debt-free by 55 and have a savings/investment plan in place to secure our future and allow us to help others.
Because I have worked in a career that excites me and pays me well, my income has doubled over the past three years. Stacey and I have been diligent and disciplined and used the increased income to pay off all our consumer debt and our house. We have begun investing in a VTSAX IRA and have put aside a full six-month emergency fund.
Short Term Goals / Specific Commitments
- Quit going to coffee shops and use my office instead
- Schedule Tuesday night finance meeting with Stacey
- Put our budget in a prominent location
- Focus on additional income, either within current job, or new job
- Finish taxes by July 15
My full list of accounts, in order of priority are: Self, Marriage, Kids, Career, Finances, Other Family and Church Family. Your accounts may be different, and your priorities may be different. They should be. And they will probably change over time. Your Life Plan is a living, breathing document that changes as the stages of your life changes.
A Vision for your Life
More than anything, Living Forward helped me envision a future for my life. A key step in the plan is defining an “envisioned future”. These words, spoken in present tense, opens your eyes to possibilities. My finances are not where I want them to be. They’re pretty screwed up. Although I’m fairly successful in my career, it’s not my ultimate professional destination. Creating my Life Plan helped me see the future clearly, and put me in the direction to get there. As Andy Stanley says, “Direction – not intention – determines destination.” A lot of us walk around with a vague idea of where we want to end up. My Life Plan has helped me set the course to get there.
My life is 2/3 over. I’m plotting out the last 25 years of my life and I want to make it count. But you don’t have to wait until you’re 50 for this to be valuable. It’s like compounded interest; the younger you start this process, the more valuable it becomes. Young men, young couples, could make such a huge impact in their lives, their marriages, their families, their communities by creating and regularly revising their Life Plans. I’m a fan.
You can purchase “Living Forward” using my affiliate link here. It won’t cost you any more, but will provide a little income for the blog.