This week I had my six-month dental check-up. Laying in the chair with the light in my eyes and various dental “paraphernalia” in my mouth, I discovered that the dental chair is a good place for reflecting back on the past six months and looking ahead to the next six.
“How’s your summer?” asked Kathy, my lovely and kind dental assistant! Like everyone else, my summer is a “blur,” flying by, and already half over. More than half over. Where has it gone? Summer held so much promise only what seems like a few moments ago. What have I been up to? How can I account for myself?
While I contemplated Kathy’s question, I “flashed back” to the January 2017 dental “return and report.”
Kathy: “How were your holidays?”
Me: “Wonderful! Our daughter, Rachel, got engaged!”
Kathy: “When is the wedding?”
Me: “October 28th!”
Then I “flashed back” once again. This is the same Rachel I wrote about in my blog in August 2014. Rachel graduated from college that May, and in August we took a 2,500 mile road trip to Houston so Rachel could start her career as a marketing specialist for a CPA firm. Since then, Rachel found her own apartment and roommate, Sandra, adopted her little “Chug” – Chihuahua and Pug mix – Arlo, and met her husband-to-be, Kyle. She has also relocated to Austin with Kyle to lead the opening of a new office for the firm, became engaged to Kyle, and planned a wedding!
All this has “happened” in what feels like such a “short time” – are you starting to see my “theme?”
Rachel and Kyle’s wedding plans and activities gave me plenty to share with Kathy in between her polishing and scraping, so she seemed satisfied with my summer update. As I was leaving the dental office, the receptionist said, “Have a nice rest of your summer!” I turned back to wish her the same, and then added, “I better wish you Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, too, since all that will happen before we see each other again.” Wow! A whole year of life lived and to be lived between dental check-ups!
The powerful lesson for me and I hope for you, as well is: We Don’t Have All the Time In the World. Before we know it, a summer, six months, a whole year, and three years is lived and gone. Do we have anything to show for it? Are we building and leaving behind any kind of legacy? Can we do anything to become better “stewards” of the limited, precious and unknown amount of time we have in this life?
Here are my ideas on how we might do better:
Vision – Invest time in thinking ahead and dreaming about what you want to be able say six months, a year or three years from now – what would you like to “return and report?” Where do you want to go? Would you like to become a regular exerciser, run a mile without stopping, lose the extra pounds you’ve been carrying, speak up more in meetings, establish a business networking group, become a better listener, etc.
“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra
Prioritize - Concentrate on 1 or 2 BIG THINGS. Establish a “possibilities list” to keep track of all the dreams you have, but don’t “sabotage” the achievement of your vision by trying to go too many places at the same time.
Set Goals – Where are you today? Break your dream or vision into action steps that will take you from Point A to Point B, from today to your destination. Do you need to research something? Do you need to register for something? Do you need to reschedule something? What specific actions do you need to take and can you take to start and complete the journey to your vision?
Get started – Right away, today. Visioning and planning are critical. But don’t get “stuck” in the planning and analysis stage. Getting started helps to build the momentum needed to achieve your vision. Just trust your “gut” and get started. Don’t wait until your goals are “polished” and “perfect” – it is OK to learn and “course correct” along the way. Plus you don’t have time to waste.
Tell others – This makes your vision and your goals “real” – telling others creates a binding “promise” that you will want to keep with those you tell. Don’t hide your light under a bushel – tell others and you will inspire them to start working on their own vision and goals. And when you tell others, they will often have advice, ideas and information that will make all the difference in arriving at your destination.
Be accountable - Ask a coach or mentor to hold you accountable. Establish and submit to a “return and report” process with interim action steps and milestones. Review your goals and progress regularly and frequently ask “Are we there yet?”
Let go of “time wasters” – Don’t procrastinate by watching TV, surfing the internet, or playing Candy Crush – we all have our own personal pitfalls to be avoided – you know yours. Important Reminder: We Don’t Have All the Time In the World.
Start again – When, not if, you fail or fall short on the journey to your vision – simply get up the next day and start again. Don’t listen to that negative little voice accusing you of failure. Getting better, growing, and learning are life-time pursuits. You do get “credit” for the part of the journey you accomplished before you went off track. The only true failure is not starting again.
We will continue to help our clients to learn and grow and succeed at life by being better stewards of the limited, precious and unknown amount of time we have in this life. If you have ideas or experiences to share, please post them so others can benefit.