“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there” – Lewis Carroll
In order to lead a fulfilling life, it is important to step back and think about what gives meaning to your life and what are your most important goals. It is too easy to get absorbed in doing what you think you should do instead of focusing on what is really important to you.
For example, you might get sucked into working long hours to earn more money to keep up with the Joneses, when in reality what you value most is spending more time with your children.
To identify your most important goals, it is important to reflect on your values and purpose in life. Here are some questions to help clarify your values and goals:
- What are your current passions and hobbies?
- If you had more free time, what would you be doing more of?
- If money were no object, how would you be living your life?
- The date is one, five, ten years from now. Your life is amazing. What has happened to make you think so?
- What are the top things you want to experience in life?
- What do you want your legacy to be to your family and community?
Take some time to reflect on these questions and write down your answers. Then, if appropriate, sit down with your partner and review your answers with him/her. It can be insightful and helpful to synch up your top goals list. Once you have consolidated them, you can talk about prioritizing them. Most people will find that their ability to achieve their dreams and goals is limited by their resources. I often tell my clients “you can have it all, just not at the same time”. What this means is you might need to prioritize the goals that are most important to you and tackle them first. Then, as resources allow, you can work your way down your list to less important items.
Another way to help focus on what is important to you is to create a Life List. I created my own Life List after reading about Ted Leonis and his 101 List, a list of the 101 things he’d like to accomplish in his life. Ted’s list has the following categories on it:
- Family Matters
- Financial Matters
The list is not meant to be rigid in composition or structure. My list currently has 69 items on it, but I plan to regularly update it, by adding things as I think of them and removing items, or better yet, checking items off as I complete them. In order to facilitate this process I have saved the list to my desktop on my laptop so it is always accessible.
The point of this process is to live life to the fullest by taking stock of what is important to you in life and what you hope to accomplish. The goal is to arrive at the end of your life having completed many, if not most, of the items on the list and feel that yours was a life well-lived. I think it is a particularly useful tool for couples to use together to better align their lives and talk about what is important to them.