Travel forward through time and imagine a gathering of colleagues, friends and family discussing a very important subject. There is a heavy tension in the room. Everyone is present except for you. Technically you are there however this is your memorial service. You wander around in a ghost like state and recognize people you’re close with. You also recognize people that frankly you’re surprised to see. The people you don’t recognize represent individuals you have yet to meet. One by one everyone begins to give speeches. You try to listen but cannot quite hear what they are saying. At certain moments you see people shaking their heads in agreement. At other moments, people are keeled over in laughter. Returning to the present time, think to yourself – What would you like to be remembered for? What does the ideal version of yourself represent?
1The Ideal: Begin with the End in Mind
My favorite habit in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey is Habit 2. It says to “Begin with the End in Mind”. The funeral exercise from the book, while a bit morbid, emphasizes our power to shape our happiness and legacy. However, we need to be clear about what we want and where we are going. Looking at the totality of our lives from a bird’s eye view makes it easier to see what we should consider priorities and which relationships to cultivate. This should be in alignment with our values, hopes for the future and what we define as our purpose. As a result, this task requires a great deal of introspection. Without it, we find ourselves in wrong careers, relationships and situations, making decisions that have nothing to do with how we would perceive our happiness.
It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall….If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster. Stephen Covey
2Consult the “Ideal You” & Fake it ’til you make it!
Defining our long term vision allows us the opportunity to take the daily steps to achieve it. There are psychological arguments that suggest that reality is created and constructed by our mind. If we are clear on the image of who we want to be spiritually, physically, financially, professionally, and socially then we can start to align our actions to become that image. For example, if the ideal version of yourself is someone who places value on physical health, think about what this person would do in situations that are inconsistent with that desire. If “Ideal You” values integrity at all costs, consider their opinion before getting entangled in situations that may compromise that. The most difficult part of all of this is maintaining and remembering that image consistently. Outside distractions intrude and cause us to forget this image and to react to circumstances instead.
A Vision and a Compass
At the end of the day, life can be like being dropped in the middle of nowhere and having to find our way to civilization. Rather than running off in different directions aimlessly, one of the best things we could do is take the time to orient ourselves and find higher ground to survey the situation. Once the desired path is discovered, it makes sense to map out a strategic way to navigate where we want to go. It becomes obvious that certain detours or shortcuts are really distractions from our ultimate purpose.
How would you like to be remembered? Is the current version of you in line with “Ideal You”?