3 Steps Toward the Life You Always Wanted
We live in a day where knowledge is easily accessible. You can Google anything. You can watch YouTube videos to learn how to do anything including parenting, changing a tire, decoupage furniture, gourmet cooking and everything in between. The era in which we live is called the “Information Age.” But where information is ubiquitous, understanding and wisdom are as rare as a content Millennial with a satisfying career.
When I think about people who are wise, two people immediately pop into my mind: Yoda and Mr. Miyagi. As a child of the 80s, these were the two best examples of wisdom. These two actually had a lot in common. They were old, experienced, insightful and intentional. Their wisdom was often hidden behind their cryptic actions and speech. Why couldn’t Mr. Miyagi just train Daniel-San to kick Johnny’s butt instead of making him remodel his house in Reseda? Why couldn’t Yoda give Luke clear instructions instead of saying, “Do or do not, their is no try”? The reason is that wisdom is gained from experience and perspective, and not knowledge and information.
There is a big difference between knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
Knowledge is about facts and information.
Understanding refers to meaning.
Wisdom is the practical application of both knowledge and understanding.
Listen to what Charles Spurgeon says about being a person of wisdom.
So how do we grow in wisdom? Moses knew the answer to this question. In Psalm 90:12, he wrote:
Moses connected having a “heart of wisdom” with the concept of “numbering your days.” Stephen Covey would say that you should “begin with the end in mind.” Other productivity gurus would say that you should have a clear vision of your life and reverse engineer your life to get to where you want to be.
“Numbering our days” is thinking about where you want your life to end up and charting a course to get there with the amount of time you have left on earth.
So if you want to grow in wisdom, I have three suggestions for you. So let me your Mr. Miyagi. I promise not to make you wax on, wax off my car.
STEP 1 - THINK ABOUT YOUR DEATH
Sorry, I’m not trying to be morbid. I’m not referring to when or how you will die. Instead, I want you to imagine your funeral or memorial service.
Imagine that you lived a full life and you accomplished everything you set out to accomplish and you died at the ripe age of 92 years old. Everyone you love is still alive and they are all gathered together in to celebrate your life and honor your memory. Think about the people in that room. What do you want them to say about you? How do you want them to remember you? What stories will they tell about you?
In my personal coaching business, I ask my clients to write out their own eulogy. “Eulogy” literally means “good words” and refers to what people say about you at your funeral. I have done this myself, and my eulogy acts as my Northstar and guide for my life. This one step will revolutionize and clarify what is really important in your life.
Suggestions for writing your own eulogy:
1) Think about the different groups of people in your life.
Your spouse. Your children. Your family and friends. Your co-workers, etc.
2) Think about how you want them to remember you.
For each group of people, complete this statement:
“I want _________ to remember that I was __________…”
“I want my children to remember that I was present in their lives and that I was proud of them…”
Just keep on writing until you run out of ideas. The first time I did this exercise, I filled up 6 pages of ideas. I suggest that you start with the group of people who are most distant from you. Don’t start with your spouse or your kids. It may be too hard or emotional. When I did this exercise, tears were flowing freely when I got to my kids.
3) Summarize those memories into a formal eulogy.
Take the memory statements from the different groups of people and consolidate those ideas into a form eulogy. It should be a maximum of one or two pages long. Then once you have your eulogy, read it everyday. This will help guide you to what is most important in your life.
STEP 2 - BE INTENTIONAL WITH YOUR TIME
Father Time is undefeated. Just ask Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods and Manny Pacquiao. Time is not unlimited. We are all allotted by God a certain amount of time on earth and no more. People worry about managing their money, but don’t talk about managing their time. That’s foolish. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.
If you are a parent, you only have 936 weeks with your child from birth to when they turn 18 years old. If they are seven, you only have 572 weeks left. I have a 15 year old and I have only 156 weeks left. That’s only 156 more Saturday mornings together. Only 156 Sundays we can go to church together.
We all need to be intentional with our time. It is our most valued commodity. You can’t save time. You can’t “manage” time or slow it down. The only thing you can do is have an intentional plan to invest your time in what is important to you.
STEP 3 - CREATE INTENTIONAL HABITS
Dreams without plans are wishes. How do you get from Point A to Point B? The first thing you have to do is have a clear destination. Then you need to chart your course.
That makes sense when talking about a cross-country road trip. But how do we chart a course in life? I think the answer is intentional habits. Our destination in life is the predictable result of our choices and habits. Gandhi taught that our habits will determine our destination in life.
I’ll write about the importance of intentional habits and how to create them in another post. But I want to impress upon you the importance of creating habits that will lead you to the life you desire.
These three steps are not the end, but the beginning of the journey towards your eulogy. An influential and fulfilling life is rare. The road from where we are to that far off destination is filled with difficulty, challenges, obstacles and set-backs. If we want to get to our destination, we must choose to be intentional every step of the way. We must choose to live the intentional life.