This is the time of the year when we all turn reflective. We evaluate who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. Sometimes this evaluation isn’t as positive as we might like. Hence, the topic of this blog. . . YOUR ‘life’s map.’
I personally didn’t create my life map until my mid-30’s, and I’m now happier and more fulfilled than ever. So let’s talk about how 2017 can become your year to achieve your ‘highest self.’ Here’s 7 steps to get you started.
And, BTW, I’m a firm believer that it’s never too late . . . for anything.
I’m Only the Messenger
I want to be clear on something before I dive in, I am NO Dalai Lama or Saint, far from it! But I do know that personal happiness comes from within as you set a life course that YOU feel good about. Mind you, use the information as you see fit, take it all in or don’t use any of it at all. I know it has done wonders for me.
The 7 Core Areas of the Life Map
Step 1 – Focus on Your Regrets NOW!
One of my best wake-up call’s to creating a life map was – and continues to be – exploring my regrets should I die tomorrow. This thought-provoking exercise can instantly crystalize what you feel is truly important in your life.
In fact, in Bronnie Ware’s best-selling book, The Top 5 Regrets of Dying, based on her time as a palliative nurse, she shares the following top 5 regrets expressed by people on their death beds:
#1 Regret: The courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
#2 Regret: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
#3 Regret: I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
#4 Regret: I wish I stayed in touch with my friends.
#5 Regret: I wish I let myself be happier.
Noticeably absent from this list are regrets focused on making more money or achieving a CEO status! The very things that drive most of us are NOT the things that people focus on when faced with little time left on this earth. For me, this was an AHA moment.
Your Challenge: Make your list of regrets and take it seriously. Review the regrets with a trusted friend or family member and then begin shaping a life map around them.
Step 2 – Daily ‘Spiritual’ Focus
Personally, this is my MOST important category. It helps me tap into my ‘eternal’ self on a daily basis, the part of me that is NOT defined by anything external. I realized the benefit of spiritual focus when I was ready to blame God and everyone else for my circumstances . . . without acknowledging my accountability in negatively affecting those circumstances.
This one started me on the path of self-awareness. I start and end each and every day, the same way, through prayer and meditation. I read inspiring words from scripture and other sources of inspiration. For you, it may be other uplifting messages from favorite authors, poets, or others you admire. The point is to start the day with positive thoughts that inspire you.
Your Challenge: Find inspirational thoughts that are meaningful to you and make them a part of your daily morning routine. Start the day positive and you’ll be more positive.
Step 3 – Daily Family Focus
Live in the moment with your family and be there for them. The greatest present you can give is your “presence.” Much easier said than done, my friends! In fact, before I step into my home, I turn off the car, take a deep breath, and simply say to myself, ‘Rubi, be present for your family. They have nothing to do with the challenges of your work. Love them, be there for them, period.’ Then I remind myself about what each family member cares about – a listening ear for my wife, play time for my son, a hug for my mother-in-law. And then, and only then, do I go in.
Your Challenge: Make a list of your important family and friends in your life. Next to each name, think about what they need most from you in terms of your presence. Then think about who needs your presence most today and be present for them. Repeat this each and every day and watch your relationships transform before your very eyes!
Step 4 – Daily ‘World Impact’ Focus
Yes, I really do mean ‘world impact.’ World impact is not about size and quantity, but measure of service to the people in your lives. Mother Teresa once said, ‘to the world you might not be everything, but to one individual, you could be the world.’
What does this mean for you? Be happy where you are and don’t wallow in the ‘victim mentality’ state. Focus, instead, on the ‘service’ mentality. Unless you are in a dire, unhealthy work circumstance that you need to leave immediately, believe there is a reason you are there. And if it’s not for you personally, it could be for others you directly influence. Trust, be present, and serve.
To be clear, I’m not saying don’t shoot for the stars and the haughty goals. It’s ALL good. Just don’t let them become you and let it be your ‘end all be all.’ I have seen many more individuals happy because they know who they are and their purpose, not because they are trying conquer the next mountain.
Your Challenge: ‘World Impact’ is not a destination but more focused on service to others. It’s a combination of your talents, your passion, and a legitimate demand for your services. Determine how you can serve others in a healthy way that is mutually beneficial to you and to others.
Step 5 – Daily ‘Physical Health’ Accomplishments
This is about being both mentally and physically healthy. Let’s tackle physical health first.
Here’s a hard truth: Knowing that you are going to die one day will not be enough for you to want to lead a healthier lifestyle. In Alan Deutschman’s book, Change or Die, he studied drug addicts, felons, and cancer patients whose conditions were self-induced and proved that the only thing that ultimately changed behaviors was a sense of purpose and internal motivation.
This means I can’t ‘scare’ you or ‘fact’ you into having a healthier lifestyle! Simply put, start to live out the core areas of your life map and watch your health styles change through motivation and purpose!
Your Challenge: Make a list of your physical health concerns and what you plan to do about them. Then create a timeline with specific goals and share them with others to increase your accountability.
At the end of the day, the primary reasons for you to be as physically healthy as possible is for your family and for your ‘world impact’ area.
Step 6 – Daily ‘Mental Health’ Accomplishments with a Focus on the Positive
You’ve often heard we only use about 10% of our true brain capacity. I believe that number is even less. The bottom line is an active, growing mind is a healthy mind. Case in point, my church sponsors, the ones who helped our family come from Vietnam, are now 90 and 95 respectfully. And they are as ‘sharp’ as ever! They conduct weekly book reading groups and go bowling! My brother and I were blessed to join them a few years ago! What a humbling, blast!
On the positive mind front, I’m not talking about being this ‘unrealistic in the clouds’ positive minded person! I’m talking about keeping a realistic perspective and recognizing that life has its ups and downs. But it’s your positive or negative mental state and attitude about those situations that will determine whether or not you are a victim or you are blessed, period!
Your Challenge: Take the same challenge as your physical health concerns, only focus on your mental attitude. Guess which one is more challenging J
Step 7 – Daily ‘Financial’ Focus
None can argue, financial “chains” are some of the most stressful burdens people can encounter. But they must be brought under control if you are to live a fulfilled life.
The majority of us have financial obligations. To be clear, this is NOT a bad thing. We simply want to be in a healthy financial state, where we are ultimately in control of our finances and our finances don’t control us.
If you aren’t in a healthy financial state, start taking some firm, baby steps towards getting on the right track. Your financial health does have an impact on your overall happiness, at least in this world. Don’t let it become the thing that prevents you from your happiness and joy.
Your Challenge: Start creating yearly financial goals, if you are not already doing so. How much do you want to give every year? How much do you want to invest? What are your family’s ‘operating’ expenses for the year? Do you have an emergency fund, a vacation budget, savings goals? There are many great financial programs that not only focus on finance but also make it not only about money, but the higher purposes in life. Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey is an example. At the end of the day, keeping money and finances in perspective is key. Money doesn’t define you, but controlling and learning how to leverage it can absolutely bring you more happiness!
There you have it, the Life Compass, key focus areas to live out, daily, for the rest of your life. Make the commitment because you’re worth it.
Here’s to living out each and every day, like it is your last!
Here’s to a Spectacular 2017!
I’d Love to Help You, really
Privately send me your challenges, questions and comments at email@example.com. I can’t guarantee I’ll have all the answers, but I will be candid, truthful and genuine at all times with you. All of us deserve to be inspired and joyful in our lives. We simply need to work towards it.
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