We spend so much time focused on our careers and our businesses; how often do we slow down to identify and appreciate the things that make our life feel whole and balanced? We know that planning is important. We plan for our financial security, but we also need to plan for ourselves. How do we achieve our best and brightest selves that aligns with what we are really looking for? The answers sometimes arrive when we least expect it.
I recently took a long weekend to fly out East to visit with my aunt who lives in New England. Throughout the weekend, I thought a lot about family, specifically, my two aunts, the one I was visiting, and my aunt-in-law, aunt of my husband. These two are very different and distinct in their own right, yet are both fiercely independent, strong women. My aunt Ann was a nun for many years. She eventually left the convent and later met the love of her life, my uncle. Ann is fun-loving, quick-witted, and as they say in Massachusetts, “wicked smaaart.” We spent the weekend together hanging out, eating ice cream and discussing our shared family secret: a shared ancestor, Mary, who was murdered in the Salem witch trials. (Yes, for those of you who may have suspected it, , it’s true. I am a descendent of a “witch!”) Ann is one example of someone living a full and balanced life with work, family, spirituality, whole relationships, and service.
Marilyn, my husband’s aunt, was, in her day, a tough-as-nails corporate professional, which was highly unlikely for the time. She’s a person who spoke her mind and often masterfully got the results she was pursuing. Marilyn grew up on a farm and did not initially plan to go to college but when her sister, my mother-in-law, put her foot down and insisted, Marilyn went to college where she met Carl. Together they raised a family of daughters. Even after losing Carl a few years ago, Marilyn, into her late eighties, continued to travel with friends.
What was remarkable on this weekend was that on the same morning my husband dropped me off to go see my aunt, my husband received news that Marilyn had suffered a stroke. There it was, right in front of us. This. This is why we take, devote, and share time with those we love. This got me thinking about the lives we lead and the legacy we leave. How do we make the most of our time here and live our best life?
As part of my own business practice, I participate in a weekly mastermind program. During one of our recent sessions, one of the leaders, Chris, walked us through an exercise I found immensely impactful. I want to share it with you and encourage anyone seeking to connect joy in your work and life outside of work to do this exercise as well.
For this exercise, it is important to grab a pen and paper. No keyboards! Things flow out differently on paper than they when we type. There's actually scientific research that backs the fact that your brain operates differently when writing. Allow your imagination to wander to different possibilities. Reach inside of yourself for your childlike curiosity. Allow yourself three to five minutes to fully answer each question. (Set a timer.) Most importantly, have some fun with this exercise!
Broadly, imagine your ideal life in five years; What kind of person are you? What do you have?
Now that you have answered each of the questions above, you have a more complete picture of the ideal life scenario you want for yourself. Read through your answers. Look for signs on how you can build a life that has balance, not just in terms of financial wealth, but plentiful worth and wealth in every aspect of your life. This is part of the three-legged stool, wealth, and financial success, - having joy and pride in the work that you do, and a full and passionate life outside of work.
You can take this exercise a step further by converting your answers into goals and making them measurable. I would encourage you to go back after a period of time has passed and look at your answers. This is the great part of having them written down rather than lost in the files on your computer.
Having a written plan for where you are going and where you want to be helps bring clarity to your everyday activities. If you know your desired direction, the day-to-day decisions become easier and more focused toward the results you expect. It makes your dreams more real, giving in to the power of manifestation. You get more done so, when, in five years, you reflect on what you have actually accomplished, you can take pride in it all.
Marilyn and Ann are two of my role models for living a life authentically and in line with my values, beliefs, and goals. Life is amazing. It can bring us these lessons at the most remarkable times. Fare thee well, dear Marilyn and I can’t wait to go back and share more ice cream with Ann. Who knows what new secrets and directions it may reveal?!
Special thanks and acknowledgement to (c) Chris Winfield Twiceasproductive.com Your Ideal Scene
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