Your Life Goals
What would it look like to have a life you didn’t need a vacation from? I don’t mean a life that didn’t include fun vacations to exciting destinations, because traveling and exploring is part of the sweetness of life. I mean, what would it look like to have a life that you didn’t spend trudging through each day to get to the weekend and each week to get to your goal of a 2-week vacation once a year?
Is a life like that even possible?
The answer is yes, but before we get to how we need to bust through an important myth about living a dream life.
Myth-Busting Your Dream Life
The classic starting place when people think about architecting a life they love is to stop and think about the job they want to have. “If I won the lottery, I would never work again” or “If I could do anything I would be a Movie Star”.
So-called dream jobs or non-jobs do not solve the quintessential need we all face, which is to live a life of meaning. It does not matter what you do for a job, or whether or not you have a 9-5 job at all. What matters is that you find meaning and significance in whatever you are doing.
In my life, I’ve had many different jobs. Babysitter, caterer, lifeguard, strawberry picker, shoe salesgirl, theater box office worker, cafeteria worker, maid, production assistant, props manager, tv sales assistant, ad sales account manager, ad salesperson and blogger, to name a few.
All of these jobs had meaning to me. Even the ones I didn’t enjoy were meaningful because they were a means to an end. Obviously, you should not give your life to something that you hate but stepping stone jobs are important because they prepare us with the skills and relationships for what’s next.
Even if you have a job that is just a paycheck to you, there is meaning in it. You can appreciate the skills you are learning while on that job and you can set aside money each paycheck to fund the dream you want to accomplish. You can foster the relationships with people you meet in that job and look for ways to be a positive force in their lives.
Your job can become a means to an end.
What is that end for you?
Begin With The End In Mind
When I was in college one of my communications class assignments was to write my own obituary. While it seemed like a morbid assignment to most of my 19-year-old peers, my sense of achievement and love for planning kicked into high gear because what is the golden rule of any plan? Begin with the end in mind.
I dreamed of all the accomplishments I would have made, of the things I wanted people to remember of my life and of what I wanted to leave behind. I proceeded to architect my life from the end to the beginning rather than from my adolescent beginning to a hopeful end.
I pulled out this said obituary from my big blue memorabilia bin in the garage yesterday, because yes, I save everything, and the thing that stood out most to me was not what came true but rather what held true over the years.
The one thing that held true was my desire to live a meaningful life. Through all the goals that have changed since then, the one that stayed the same was my goal to leave the world a better place because I had lived. This was my why. When you know your why, you have the foundation upon which to build a life you will be proud of, no matter what life throws at you.
The biggest thing that changed for me was that back then I did not envision having children of my own, whereas now I have come to believe that being a parent is the most significant thing you can do with your life.
So, if you want to craft a life you are proud of, begin with imagining the end of your life and work backwards to uncover what’s most important to you. This will become your why.
What Do You Want To Do?
Once you have your why, you can move on to your what. What do you want to do?
We always find a way to do what we really want to do. Case in point, you may not feel like you have any time but you likely find time to binge watch your favorite show on Netflix. How is that? It’s because we always make time for what we really want to do.
The question is what do you really want to do with your one crazy precious life?
Here are my wants in case you need some thought starters:
I want to raise my son well. I want to sponsor children out of poverty. I want to write and speak. I want to share my knowledge and experience with others. I want to make my life count. I want to leave the world a better place because I lived.
Do you have something you want to do?
Write it down.
If you’re still stuck, here are a few questions that might help.
If today were the last day of your life would you want to be doing what you are about to do today?
If the answer is no, ask yourself what would you want to be doing today that you’re not doing?
Write that down.
Ask yourself, what you would do with your life if money were not an issue.
My husband, who is a pastor, is a boss at this question. For as long as I’ve known him I’ve asked him this periodically and his answer has always been, I wouldn’t change what I’m doing. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. Helping people follow Jesus. If he won the lottery tomorrow, it wouldn’t change a thing about the way he lives his life because he is doing what he wants to be doing with his one beautiful, precious life.
Still don’t know what you want to do? I can relate. This was the hardest thing for me to determine but when I took the time to figure it out everything opened up for me. I realized what I was gifted at and that helped me to discover my purpose in helping people be more productive and live more abundant lives.
If you’re struggling with what you’re good at, you can read this post which chronicles my journey and offers you a process to help you find your purpose.
What’s Standing In Your Way?
Once you have determined what you want to do, the next step is to figure out what is holding you back from doing it. What is it that is keeping you from living out your why and accomplishing your what?
I submit that the only thing standing in your way is you.
For example, let’s say what’s holding you back is debt. You don’t have the financial means to start that business or create that product you want to create because your hard-earned cash is going to service your debt every month.
It may seem like your debt is standing in your way but in actuality, it is only you who are in the way.
You are making decisions with your money that are more important to you than paying off your debt and therefore your debt is not going away. You alone can fix it by getting out of your own way and setting up a plan to knock out that debt to begin saving for the thing you want to do.
Let’s say what’s holding you back is time. You don’t have any time to devote to doing what you really want. Actually, you are in the way of that.
You alone run your calendar. You can find the time to do what you want to do. Ruth Soukup, NY Times Best Selling author and founder of the blog Living Well Spending Less, would wake up at 3am every morning to work on her blog before her two toddlers woke up. You alone are standing in the way of finding time to do what you want to do.
Maybe it’s fear holding you back? You are afraid to try and fail or to try and succeed and be saddled with the pressure and responsibility that success brings. Fear is not in your way. You alone are in the way.
Take a deep breath and get to the place where you realize that fear of failure or even fear of success are things that are manufactured in your mind. FEAR stands for False. Evidence. that Appears. Real. You have to leapfrog over your fear. The only way to get over your fear is to face it. You’re the only one stopping you.
The only thing standing in the way of living the life of your dreams is you. Get out of your own way.
Make a Plan
Now that you know what you want, have written it down and decided to get our of your own way, you need to create a plan to achieve what you want. The biggest reason people don’t actually achieve their dreams is because they don’t have a plan and the reason they don’t plan is because they often don’t know where to start.
I’ve found that the best way to start is with the end in mind and work backwards. It’s similar to figuring out one of those mazes as a kid. Always start at the end and backtrack to the beginning, you’ll solve the maze every time on the first try.
Start with the end result you want to achieve and then ask yourself the question “how” for each back-tracking step along the way. As you answer it, ask “how” again. Until you get all the way back to step 1.
For instance, Let’s say you want to launch a skincare product. Here’s what a backtracking plan might look like.
By starting with the end result and backtracking each step by using the question “how?”, you can see we have mapped out a hypothetical skincare product launch in 20 steps. Most importantly, we’ve found a path back to a starting point.
You can use this same backwards process for anything you want to do. Write a book, start a non-profit, start a blog, etc.
The steps don’t have to be perfect or even correct at first, they will change as you go along and discover the things needed for your product. The important thing is that you find a way to your starting point and work from there.
Break Down Your Plan
Going with your skincare launch plan sample, you have just created 20 steps to doing what you want. Now take those 20 steps and divide by 4.
This gives you five months to accomplish them if you do four each month.
Break down the monthly tasks into weekly tasks. This will give you 1 task each week to accomplish.
Break down the weekly tasks into daily tasks you need to do in order to accomplish each weekly goal.
Architect Your Days
Now you have a big picture of a life you imagine. You have a dream. You have a plan. You have daily tasks to complete. The last step is scheduling the time for those tasks.
The time management struggle is real. I no longer work a 9-5 office job yet I still do not seem to have any time! If I am not careful, the weeks tick by like hours and I wonder what happened. I have to force myself to steward my time wisely. You need to become an architect of your life. The way you do this is by scheduling the time to do the thing you want.
For example, what I want to do is to have a blog that helps people find meaning and productivity in the everyday. To accomplish this, I have architected my life around this meaningful goal. I have baked time into my day for doing the activities necessary for my blog to be successful. This is how I’ve architected my life on Mondays:
Typical Monday Routine
- 7am wakeup
- Meditate- 5 Minutes
- 7:05 Get up. Make bed. Throw in load of laundry
- 7:10 drink hot cup of water with lemon, read my bible, journal & pray
- 7:30 get luke breakfast
- 7:40 Walk the dog
- 7:50 take luke to school
- 8:20 workout
- 9:00 daily cleaning routine
- 9:30 shower
- 10:00 Write Blog Post
- 12:30 Lunch outside
- 1:00 Blog Photos
- 2:00 Blog Promotion
- 3:30 Pick up luke
- 4:00 Monday Funday adventure with Luke and Jeff
- 5:00 Help Luke with homework
- 6:00 Make dinner
- 7:00 Clean up
- 7:30 Give Luke Bath
- 8:00 Take Bath
- 8:30 Put Luke to Bed
- 9:00 Write Blog Post
- 11:00 Go to sleep
Note that I’ve found blocks of time throughout my Monday to work toward what I want. I’m sure your schedule is as packed as mine but if you block off time in at least one of your days when you can work on what you want to do, you are architecting a life you eventually won’t need a vacation from.
The Dream Killer
You know what the biggest killer of your dreams is? Interruptions. I have about a thousand interruptions a day.
Each interruption causes you to have to start over in your thought process and it’s estimated you lose 25 minutes of productivity with every interruption. Since locking myself in a padded room is not an option as a mom, here are the steps I take to keep interruptions at a minimum:
- Turn off all social media alerts on my phone
- Turn off the ringer on my phone for the hours of the day I am focused on a specific task like writing or creating.
- Work in a separate space from my living space.
If you suffer from real people interrupters coming by your desk throughout the day, think about investing in headphones or simply letting them know you’re in the middle of a productivity time block but are happy to chat later.
Welcome to Honey & Figs! I’m Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.
Become part of the Honey & Figs Community & get the Newsletter