As Brooke made her way up the trail, climbing over rocks and avoiding the ice patches left by the spring sunshine, she was thinking about all the thoughts she’d chronicled in the last few weeks about her life vision, her values, and perspective. Looking back on her forty plus years, she realized her life didn’t turn out the way she had envisioned, the vision she had just fifteen years ago. Life had taken an unexpected turn and had left not only her financial goals in shambles but she was having a hard time remembering her accomplishments which took a toll on her self esteem. It was difficult to stay positive these days and she knew she needed to change her perspective, which is why she was out climbing a fourteener in early spring. She used to plan adventures like this on a regular basis, but somehow she lost site of her personal goals, and worried she wouldn’t be able to leave a positive legacy for her children.
Divorce had put a halt to her life plans and she became stressed about how she would help her kids with college expenses, her own impending medical bills, housing costs, and then ultimately lost sight of any retirement plans. In recent months she had started to re-evaluate her overall vision for her life and her purpose, and decided she needed a formula for success. She was tired of quoting the self deprecating tweets she’d seen on Twitter to her friends, “Getting a divorce is like getting fired from a job you've hated for years.” “Divorce is basically life giving you a participation medal,” or her favorite tweet, “Divorce is like getting out of jail but not having any money to do anything cool.” She knew she had to start thinking positive thoughts and was determined to change.
As she crested the peak of the fourteener and saw the sunlight highlighting the adjacent peaks, she looked out at the vastness of the world below and realized she had the world at her fingertips. Brooke sat down on the flattop of the peak to catch her breath, and she started wondering what her friends and family would say about her if they were asked to speak at her funeral. She’d been so caught up in her own affairs these last few years she’d many times forgotten to spend quality time with those who could be an encouragement to her. She’d lost sight of those important relationships and heartfelt connections and wanted to do something to change that. She’d recently listened to a podcast which gave her the idea of keeping a notebook that she could write questions, prior to meeting a friend for happy hour or going on a date or before family conversations around the table. She could thoughtfully write down ideas and conversation starters to make their time together more meaningful. She unzipped her backpack, which she’d propped up against the rocks, and slid the notebook and her favorite purple pen out of the front pocket. She looked out at the clouds and estimated she had an hour or so to rest up before heading down the mountain.
Looking at her previous notes on the pages of her notebook, she read over her list of questions she hadn’t answered yet:
1. How am I treating others?
2. Do I have a positive outlook for my future?
3. What are my values, my vision and perspective for now and the future?
4. What are my defining moments?
Number four jumped out at her as she knew she could answer that right now. She’d just climbed a fourteener, and although the actual hike was done by herself, she’d consulted with friends, family, and acquaintances who had “been there, done that” and it helped her prepare and be successful in her journey. This was a good lesson for her, because without their advice she wouldn’t have made it up the mountain and it reminded her she needed the advice and support of others to be successful in her life goals. Not just on the mountain, but also being successful in her financial goals, life strategy and leaving a legacy of helping others. Her plan was to define her life vision so it acts as her guidance system.
She laid back on the flat rock in the sunshine and dozed off until a loud “boom” woke her up and she noticed the thunderous black clouds approaching. Her lightening monitor started beeping and it was going off frequently. She’d lost track of time and knew she needed to get down the mountain quick. She packed up her backpack and started down the trail. Lightening was flashing with thunder right behind and it started to rain, rain hard, which caused her to lose her footing on the trail that was quickly turning to mud. She took shelter under a rocky ledge for a few moments until the storm blew over and it would be safe to continue down the trail. She laughed to herself as she realized she’d let her napping on the top of the mountain get in the way of her life goal which was to complete the mountain climb by getting down the mountain, back to safety, her family, and her friends.
Have you taken time to describe your life philosophy? Would you like to? In the coming weeks, I’ll lay out the key ingredients to defining your life philosophy that acts as a guidance system. A few good questions to ask yourself and family from time to time is, “How am I doing? How are we doing? Are we growing toward our vision? How am I spending my time? How are we spending our time? Are we on-track? Are we being intentional?”
Plan, Invest, Live™