If it is your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first – Mark Twain
The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one – Mark Twain
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover – Mark Twain
Mark Twain, the nineteenth century American author of classics such as Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was born Samuel Clemens. He was a prolific writer and highly sought-after public lecturer. He often spoke about procrastination and success – and how the key to success was to begin rather than to wait around and react to what life has thrown your way.
In their new book Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy deal with many of the same issues, but approach it in a systematic way. Their basic question is: “How can you achieve the life you want to live?” Don’t we all want to know the answer to that question!
Hyatt and Harkavy begin their book by explaining a term they coined: drift. They explain that we have the tendency to drift or to veer from what our own intentions. It is as if you are out in the ocean and you lose sight of the shore, but do not realize it until you have moved many miles away. This drift can occur in our careers, in our marriages, in our health, or in other arenas that are particularly important to us. Why does this drift happen? The authors ascribe it to four different factors:
It happens when we are unaware. We don’t have a plan for what we want and thus are not even aware of what our goal is.
It happens when we are distracted. We are so focused on one area of our lives that we ignore everything else. For example, you might be building your business and heavily investing your time and energy into that for many years. Then, one day you might turn around and notice that your marriage is struggling because you have not focused on it at all.
It happens when we are overwhelmed. Sometimes in the busy pace of life, we are just struggling to keep up and say we will “get to that when this next project is done” or “I will think about that over the summer.” In reality, those are often just excuses and we don’t ever get to the thing we said we would.
It happens when we are deceived. Sometimes we believe that we cannot do things or make changes. In those cases we might be deceiving ourselves (and we think we can’t change…)
Consequences of drifting:
Expense – Fix your health or fix your marriage.
Lost opportunity – Busy trying to keep up, you can’t take opportunities.
Pain – Hurts not to be in optimal health or your careers is not where you want it to be. Regrets – You are not in the place you want to be.
“Life Planning is the exact opposite of the drift. The drift is about passivity. Life Planning is about proactivity. The drift is about blaming our circumstances or other people. Life Planning is about taking responsibility. The drift is about living without a plan. Life Planning is about having a plan and working it.”
Benjamin Franklin is the first Life Planner we know of. Around 1730, while in his late twenties, he drafted a plan for self-improvement. He listed thirteen essential virtues he wanted to develop in his life – things like temperance, frugality, industry, and humility. He chose one virtue to focus on each week and kept a daily chart to track his progress.
A Life Plan is a short written document, usually five to fifteen pages long. Yes, that’s right. Not a big, fat, three-ring binder with a hundred pages of detailed plans. No, just a short, written document that you can read with ease on a daily or weekly basis.
It is created by you and for you. It describes how you want to be remembered. It articulates your personal priorities. It provides the specific actions necessary to take you from where you are to where you want to be in every major area of your life.
Three powerful questions: How do I want to be remembered? What matters most?
How can I get from here to where I want to be?
Plan a wedding, plan which car to buy, but who plans their life? The drift – reactive. The plan – proactive.
Life will be different: Clarity – where you want to end up, what the action steps are. Courage – can say yes to what is truly important. Control – go through life feeling out of control, but this allows us to be in control.Rifka Schonfeld