I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the importance of strategy. And even more talking about the importance of vision. And just as much talking about the importance of leadership.
I really believe that if your organisation is going to succeed it needs to know:
- What it is going to do
- How it is going to it
- Why it does it in the first place
And it only knows these things if its leaders know them and communicate them to their teams.
But, if it’s essential to know those things about your business, I’ve come to believe that it’s even more important to know these things about your life.
Self-leadership precedes team leadership
I was walking to a meeting in London recently, in a part of town that I don’t know well. I was using Apple Maps on my iPhone to show me the route. At a very busy junction, with at least six different choices, I inadvertently took the wrong exit and started to head in the wrong direction. Within 30 seconds, Apple Maps had noticed, let me know, recalibrated my route and set me back on the right track.
Life can get like that. Have you ever found yourself, personally, in a destination that you didn’t choose? That you’d never have chosen if you’d realised you were making a choice? Life is complicated, with lots of busy junctions and choices of direction – about your career, your marriage, your family, your lifestyle, your health and so much more. Sometimes, without even realising it, we go the wrong way.
Wouldn’t it be handy, in those circumstances, to have a GPS mapping app, that:
- Let you know you had strayed off track
- Reminded you of your destination
- Reprogrammed the route for you
- Pointed you back in the right direction?
In Living Forward, Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy outline their manifesto for life planning. It is a genuinely life-changing book – and it’s absolutely intended to be. It’s short and practical, with a very clear message – you can be intentional about how you live your life or you can drift towards a destination that you didn’t choose.
They outline five outcomes of letting yourself drift: confusion, expense, lost opportunity, pain and regret. None of which sound good. And all of which sound familiar. They walk you through a process that allows you to answer three critical questions:
- How do I want to be remembered?
- What matters most?
- How can I get from here to where I want to be?
By doing this, you start to construct a plan for your life, which outlines what your priorities are and the actions you are going to take to meet them.
Even the simple act of prioritising can be extremely powerful. If you’ve clarified that your family is more important to you than work, what choice are you going to make the next time you are asked to stay in the office for an unnecessary meeting that clashes with your child’s nativity play? The next time you are offered an eye-watering promotion that you know, in your heart of hearts, will mean 80 hour weeks, most of your time on the road and will damage your relationship with your partner? The next time you stay up late, drink a few glasses of wine more than your should and miss your morning run?
Why is this important?
I’m passionate about public services. To deliver better public services we need to create and run better organisations. To do that, we need to be the best versions of ourselves. I’m convinced that taking the time to work out what that looks like and how we live it, is time well spent. I’m sold on the idea of life planning – I’d encourage you to take a look at Living Forward.
What do you think of the idea of creating a written Life Plan?
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