Living Forward

Summary Written by Dianne Coppola
"Life Planning is fundamentally about imagining a better future. It’s about breaking free of your limiting beliefs, tapping into your deepest desires, and standing in the realm of possibility."

- Living Forward, page 106

The Big Idea

Invest in the Important

"We’re convinced you can do almost anything if you are willing to clarify your commitments and make incremental investments over time to achieve them."- Living Forward, page 101

This quote is actually a magic wand in disguise. The proverbial silver bullet. First, you need to get clear about what you really want. Then you need to commit to making incremental investments over time to generate that success. Implement this idea consistently and the magic of compound interest does most of the heavy lifting.

At its most basic, your Life Plan requires you answer three questions:

  1. How do I want to be remembered (by family, friends, colleagues, community)?
  2. What matters the most (to me)?
  3. How can I get from where I currently am to where I want to be?

Hyatt and Harkavy use banking as an analogy to guide your planning. First you establish different Life Accounts (who and what is important to you), identify your account balance (your current situation) and outline your investment goals (your desired future). Then you consider different investment strategies (ways to reach your desired future) and decide what you can commit to do in order to realize growth in that account (daily/weekly action steps). It’s a great metaphor that reminds us we need to actively align our actions (our deposits) with what is important to us on a regular basis if we want to see progress (wealth creation).

Getting clear on who and what is important to you, along with the specific things you can do daily, weekly and monthly to achieve that vision will make it easier to take the next step – eliminating the tasks and activities that don’t support your identified priorities to make room for those that do.

Insight #1

Create Margin

"What we desperately need is margin – time to breathe, to reflect, to act."- Living Forward, page 50

I love the concept of creating margin – some buffer time in our day and week where we pause and reconnect to what is important so we can be more deliberate about our choices and decisions. Too often we are flying from meeting to meeting and task to task with barely time to eat lunch or grab a coffee. We react to what gets thrown at us instead of considering whether it’s actually worthy of our time and resources. To create margin, we need to adopt three essential practices:

  1. Triage our calendar.
  2. Schedule our priorities.
  3. Say no to more requests.

Triaging your calendar means taking a good hard look at what you do with your time and eliminating activities and commitments that don’t add value to your life accounts (that’s the saying no part). I have found Dr. Stephen Covey’s Urgent/Important matrix a useful tool for gaining some much needed perspective on where my time and energy is going. Next we have to ‘selfishly’ schedule time to work on our identified priorities first before agreeing to consider requests from others. This takes discipline and practice but is well worth the effort if you are serious about achieving your dreams.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that life won’t throw you curveballs. Successful people anticipate potential detours and have alternate routes they can choose if the need arises. They also make lemonade with life’s lemons.

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Insight #2

Accentuate the Positive

"One of the best questions you can ask when something negative happens is: What does this experience make possible?"- Living Forward, page 39

For those of you who may not be naturally optimistic, this is the second magic wand hiding up your sleeve. Rather than using valuable and finite energy to lament and bemoan something ‘gone wrong’, stop and look for the benefit or advantage the situation offers you. Thomas Edison was a master at this. He and his team tried 10,000 different combinations of wire filament before discovering the one that made the incandescent light possible. They studied each setback to glean clues for how to set up the next experiment.

Michael Hyatt once broke his ankle at what he described as a crazy busy and most inopportune time. By asking himself, What does this experience make possible?, he was able to recognize it offered him an opportunity to slow down, recharge and regain some work-life balance. And, it provided opportunities for other team members to grow through new assignments and leadership opportunities.

Answering ‘What does this experience make possible?’ forces you to shift your focus from the past (which you can do nothing about) to the future which you can definitely influence. Looking for the hidden opportunities and benefits within our setbacks is the quickest way to turn those lemons into lemonade and harness the power of positivity. Remember, the rear view mirror is a fraction of the size of the front windshield for a reason!

Benjamin Franklin and Sir Winston Churchill are both credited with variations of the saying, “Those who fail to plan, are planning to fail.” Hyatt and Harkavy would say, “Those who fail to plan are doomed to drift through life.” Yikes! That’s not what I want my obituary to say! How about you?

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Daniel Harkavy

Daniel Harkavy is founder of Building Champions, an executive coaching company with more than ten years of experience. As CEO and Head Coach, Daniel leads the Building Champions team while also coaching a select group of high-profile executives and leadership authorities. His team has successfully coached thousands of top executives, managers, and producers to improve their professional and personal lives.

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