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Focus forward by working backward

Laura Cook Newman //October 3, 2013//

Focus forward by working backward

Laura Cook Newman //October 3, 2013//

A milestone birthday is in my immediate future.  Next week, I gain entry to the “fourth floor”.

Like New Year’s Eve, birthdays are a good time for resolutions; except we don’t call them that.  Instead we pause for a moment, conjure up a wish, blow out a candle (or 40), and hope for the best.

It seems like we put more effort into submitting our expense report than making our dreams reality. This wish-making business sounds a bit wishy-washy to me.

If it’s important, you’ll find a way.  If not, you’ll find an excuse.

Lately, this mantra’s been on auto play in my brain like a catchy Top 40 tune.  Since planning my future is important, I take pen to paper and begin to craft my “wishes”. 

It makes perfect sense to start today and map out 10, 20, 30, 40 years ahead.  But this task feels like pushing a boulder up Mt. Massive.  Writer’s block sets in immediately paralyzing my progress.

Then it occurs to me I’m going about this ALL WRONG. 

Scrapping my original strategy, prior to my birthday – of all days – I decide to write my own eulogy.  Relinquishing the obvious thoughts of mortality, my Sisyphean struggle ceases. 

I won’t bore you with the details of my eulogy (spoiler alert: Anthony Bourdain and I run away to Bora Bora and open up the world’s coolest Tiki Bar).  Instead, I leave this fulfilling discovery of self-awareness in your capable hands.

Start with the end result in mind and work your way backwards.

Some suggestions to get you started thinking about your life’s script:

  1.  Quality Trumps Quantity – The amount of time you predict is in you future isn’t as important as how you fill it.
  2. Be Fearless – Rapper Pit Bull said “Reach for the stars and if you don’t grab them, at least you’re on top of the world.”  Be the alpha dog.  Woof.
  3. Permission to Self-Indulge – You are the leading role in the movie of You.  You’re not the gullible sidekick, less handsome wingman, or flaky best friend.  Give yourself the star treatment. “Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up.”
  4. “I’d like to thank…” – In your moment of self-indulgence, don’t forget the little guys during life’s journey; the ones you helped and the ones who helped you.  Props to you for giving them props in your eulogy.
  5. Get Creative – Throw logic to the wind.  Eliminate doldrum barriers and so-called reality.  Think like Willy Wonka: “Inside this room, all of my dreams become realities. And some of my realities become dreams.”
  6. Leave a Legacy – When you make your mark, do it with a Sharpie, not a dry erase marker.  Other than the fact that you know the choreography to Thriller by heart, what’s the one thing you want your great grandchildren to know about you?

Remember: If it’s important, you’ll find a way.  If not, you’ll find an excuse.

I wish you luck.