Have you lost your way? Consumed by the daily grind, you can’t see the wood for the trees. Deep down, you know something’s wrong, something has to change, but you don’t know what. Or perhaps you do know what you want. You have a vision of your desired future, but you can’t seem to make it happen. You battle procrastination or find it impossible to focus and follow things through. Maybe you’ve accomplished a lot only to realise you were climbing the wrong ladder. You arrived at your destination but feel more miserable than ever.
Wherever you are, there’s a way forward to something better. It starts with you deciding not to settle for things the way they are then taking responsibility for creating the future you want. You and only you can do the work.
But you’re not alone there’s lots of help out there. Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work? You can make your dreams a reality, and here are three books that will show you how.
Living Forward By Michael Hyatt And Daniel Harkavy
In their book, ‘Living Forward’, Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy help you find the clarity you need to articulate a vision for your life, one that pushes on the limits of what you may believe is possible. The book will help you establish a plan for getting to your vision and equip you with the tools you need to make better decisions in every area of your life.
Your approach to life will change, moving from reactive to proactive and it starts with a life plan.
What is a life plan and why do you need it?
If you’ve been drifting with no clear direction or just wandered off track, a life plan is the vehicle you will use to get refocused and re-energised. It’s a short written document, usually eight to fifteen pages long that is created by you and for you. It describes how you want to be remembered and articulates your personal priorities. It also provides the specific actions you need to take to move from where you are to where you want to be. Most importantly, it is a living document that you will tweak and adjust as necessary for the rest of your life. The content of a life plan is driven by the answers to three powerful questions:
- How do you want to be remembered?
- What matters most to you?
- How can you get from where you are to where you want to be?
Creating a life plan brings a number of benefits including: clarity on priorities and why they matter to you, a clear vision of the future you are trying to create and the ability to filter opportunities that you encounter through that lens.
1. Begin at the end
Creating your life plan starts at the end and by that the authors literally mean your death; you get to write your eulogy. What will your friends and family say about you when you’re gone? What stories would they tell and would those stories bring them joy or pain? Through this process you come to realise that you will leave a legacy behind when you die but you still have a chance to influence it while you’re still alive. How can you use that as a driver to make the changes you need?
2. Evaluate your life accounts
You’ll learn about life accounts, those areas of your life that are important to you and need to be nurtured. For example: Health, Finances or Family. There’s also a handy online Life Assessment Profile tool that will help you determine the current condition of each of these accounts. The results of that assessment are your starting point.
3. Where are you and where do you want to be?
You’ll get to choose the life accounts that matter to you the most and honestly assess and describe your current reality. More importantly, however, you get the chance to visualise your desired future in as much detail as possible. A clear vision of the future you want to create is critical to an effective life plan as knowing where you want to get to will help you to make better decisions. In addition, you will commit to improve in those areas that you decide matter most. Commitments are specific actions that will help you move from your current reality to your envisioned reality.
4. Execute on your life plan
You know where you’re trying to get to and now it’s time to take action on those commitments. That will mean planning and scheduling the actions that you have determined you need to take. Achieving your goals won’t happen overnight but will require incremental investments in each of your life accounts over time. Consistent action is key.
5. Maintain momentum
Your life plan isn’t something you create once and stick in a drawer or a virtual folder, it’s a living, breathing document. To have any chance of success you will need to review it regularly to assess your progress, celebrate your wins and adjust where required.
The beauty of this book is its straightforward approach to helping you figure out what you want and how to go about achieving it. It reminds you that real change only happens when you take responsibility for your life and start to live more intentionally.
If you’re drifting then there’s a chance you’ll end up somewhere wonderful but it’s more likely that you’ll end up somewhere you don’t want to be. If you’re no longer willing to leave your future to chance and you’re looking for a simple, methodical approach to life change then look no further. Living Forward will provide all the inspiration, training and tools you need to bring that vision of the future to reality.
Designing Your Life By Bill Burnett And Dave Evans
How do you find a job you love? How do you build a meaningful life and career? Is it really possible to balance career and family? These are just some of the questions the book ‘Designing Your Life’ will help you answer. In the book, the authors present a process that incorporates the principles of design thinking to help you craft a life that is meaningful, fulfilling and joyful. The book will help you figure out what you want, who you want to become and how to create that life.
Success will hinge on your ability to adopt the following mindsets:
- Curiosity. It encourages exploration and makes everything seem new.
- Bias to action. You don’t sit around thinking and waiting, you commit to building your way to the answers.
- Reframing. This requires that you take new information about a problem and restate your point of view. It will help you get unstuck and ensures that you are working on the right problems.
- Awareness. You understand that the process rather than the goal should be your focus and how to let go of good but not great solutions.
- Radical collaboration. You realise that you don’t have to come up with the answers all by yourself, you can ask for help.
The biggest reframe that you will need to adopt (and it’s pretty powerful) is that your life can’t be perfectly planned and that there isn’t just one solution. That along with the other mindsets described will help you take full advantage of the Designing Your Life process:
1. Where are you now and what problem are you trying to solve?
It starts with an assessment of the key areas of your life: health, work, play and love. How happy are you with how things are and what areas need action?
2. Build your compass
What does work mean to you? What gives life meaning? The answers will define your work and life views respectively and together constitute your ‘true north’. Knowing your true north will come in handy whenever you’re going through a change or need to make an important decision. It will help you reorient yourself.
3. Find your way
It’s time to find your way but you won’t actually know your destination. The beauty of this approach is you won’t need to, you just need a compass and a direction. You’ve built your compass in the previous step but now it’s time to figure out the direction you should take. To do this you will learn how to tune into what engages and energises you and what doesn’t. Through intense reflection you will figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
4. What to do if you don’t know what you want
If you think you’re stuck you’ll learn that you’re not because you can always generate lots of ideas. If you think that you have to find the perfect idea you’ll learn that what you really need is lots of ideas that you can explore. You’ll also learn that a good life designer never chooses the first solution to a problem. You’ll move out of problem solving mode (what do you do next) to design thinking mode(what can you imagine) You will also learn to use tools like mind mapping to come up with lots of ideas.
5. Design your future
Now comes the exciting part. With all the information you’ve gathered you are invited to imagine and design multiple versions of your future. These are called Odyssey plans and will help you choose which wayfinding direction you want to explore further.
6. Try it out
It’s time to take action and in design thinking, prototyping is a tool used when trying to solve a problem. Prototypes help you visualize alternatives and allow you to “try out” some version of a potentially interesting future. Creating new experiences through prototyping will give you an opportunity to understand what a new career path, for example, may feel like, even for a limited period. Through these experiments you get to test your assumptions, fail fast and iterate. Prototyping is an integral part of the life design process and helps you uncover more and more of the path to your desired destination.
This book will challenge a number of beliefs that hold you back from the life you want and you will get lots of opportunities to reframe them in a more empowering way. I find myself coming back to ‘Designing Your Life’ time and again especially for brainstorming ideas and prototyping my way forward. It’s pretty exciting to know that there isn’t one grand design for your life, that you get to imagine different versions and explore them through on the ground experimentation. If you can embrace this truly liberating idea then the tools and techniques provided will only enhance your journey as you grow towards a happy and productive future.
7 Steps To Purpose By Neil Prem
Are you trying to find meaning and purpose in your life and yearn to do something that makes an impact? In his book, ‘7 Steps to Purpose’, author Neil Prem describes an approach aimed at helping you figure out what your unique gifts are and how to use them to make a contribution to the world. The book provides a roadmap for creating what the author calls an abundant life.
What is an abundant life?
- A life of purpose and meaning where you wake up everyday knowing that what you do is important.
- One where you are able to make a contribution and a difference to the lives of others.
- A life where you connect with others.
- One where you aspire to live up to your potential while you set goals and pursue them.
- A life that blends adventure and stability where you’re able to explore and cultivate your passions.
You may be at a turning point
If you find yourself looking for direction, confused about what to do yet knowing something is missing then you’re at a crossroads. That turning point can come in a number of guises and the author describes seven:
You have a need to know who you are, why you’re here on this planet and what you’re meant to do.
You have a deep desire to understand whether you’re on the right path to achieving what you want out of life. Are you going to make your biggest dreams come true?
You feel overwhelmed and exhausted and you desperately need to create balance in your life.
Does what you do really matter and is it too late to change? You have a burning need to be of value.
It’s not just about being successful but is what you’re doing also making an impact.
You need to reinvent yourself and find a new sense of purpose and direction.
You’re dealing with a sudden change and feel unable to deal with it.
Whatever your turning point looks like it will require that you learn to align your deepest desires (your heart) with what you believe is possible (your head). The book shows you how to reconnect to your unique gifts and calling, let go of past regrets and false beliefs to take meaningful action. You learn how to demonstrate and share your gifts, talents and passion in all you do and with those you interact with.
How do you get to the abundant life?
The book goes on to detail seven steps that will take you from feeling stuck and confused to a sense of clarity and direction. It will show you what you need to do and fuel you with the confidence to keep taking consistent action. Here are the 7 steps in summary:
1. Slow Down
Pause to take stock and create the space to reconnect with what matters most.
2. Get Out of Your Head
Get clarity and the confidence that you’re on track, build resilience and know that you are able to deal with the challenges that come your way.
3. Remember Who You Are
Dream big and believe it’s possible for you. Rewire your limiting beliefs.
4. Let Go of the Past
Let go of regret and the burden of past failures. You’re not going to always get what you want and that’s ok.
5. Find Your Why
What does success and happiness mean to you? What is the driving reason behind everything that you do. Why is it important?
6. Discover Your Gift
What work were you meant to do and how can you align that with your purpose?
7. Find Your Flow
Uncover your Superpower by aligning your gifts, passion and values in the service of others and let it drive everything you do.
Change Takes Action
You can have all the tools in the world but success hinges on taking action. The author introduces the concept of purpose projects, planned periods of time in which you cultivate more of the things you want to do. These projects allow you to reconnect with those things you’ve identified as bringing you more joy and meaning. Purpose projects are the vehicle through which you will start to create the changes you seek.
If you’re longing to bring your gifts to the world and know you have a contribution to make then this is the book for you. You learn how to step into your purpose and finally tap into your unfulfilled potential. You’ll learn that there is no one path although some may allow you to express more joy, fulfilment and happiness. It’s useful to remember that you get to choose a purpose that allows you to do what you love and are meant to do.
Are you ready to make your dream life a reality?
Change isn’t easy, it requires commitment and consistent action but it is possible. These three books have different approaches but they are all aimed at helping you define what you want and then making it happen. They’ve helped me over the years and I hope they can do the same for you. It’s not too late to change your life for the better but you have to want it. Don’t leave your future to chance, take action today.
Now over to you.
Are you ready to make that big change in your life?
What do you think of the books I’ve outlined?
Let me know in the comments.