I received a Direct Message (basically an email) on Twitter the other day from someone who told me that he was writing an article for his site, and he wanted to know the most profound thing anyone had ever said to me.
I thought about it for a couple days, and when I got back to him, this was my chosen quote: “Every day takes you closer to your life goals, or farther away from them. It’s your choice which direction you go.”
This implies two things. A) We all need goals in life if we want to accomplish things that are important to us, and B) everything we do, no matter how big or how small, makes a difference in reaching or falling short of these goals.
These thoughts dovetail quite nicely with a fantastic article I was reading last week from a friend of mine, David Cain. He spoke about building an ambitious “life list” of things you want to accomplish before you die. I encourage you to give it a read – his stuff is always really good. Oh, and if you enjoy that article, you’ll find that Jenny Blake has provided a free template for you to use to construct your own life list.
I agree that we all need to set goals in life, but I come at it from a slightly different perspective. Instead of making a list of 100+ specific things to do, I prefer to set an overall framework in broad strokes, and then make sure that everything I do advances at least one of those goals in some way, shape or form. This is not to say that the “life list” method is wrong . . . in fact, a combination of the two methods may be ideal.
One of the tactics used for a business purpose at my company really resonates with me in terms of personal goal-setting, so it’s what I’ve been using for the past year or two to frame everything else I do.
It’s called the Big 5.
Basically, every employee has a yearly Big 5 list of things that they want to accomplish. They could be large projects, personal improvement, networking activities, etc. You and your boss agree on them, and if you accomplish them during the year (in addition to your other work), you are sufficiently advancing your career.
I’ve taken that idea and applied it to my entire life as it stands right now. Maybe I’ll re-evaluate in five years or so and see where things fall then. But for now and during the foreseeable future, this is what my Big 5 looks like:
This is the framework for my life right now, in order of importance. I’m trying to keep at least 75% of everything I do aligned with these goals, so that no matter what I do, I’m advancing at least one of them in some way. I use short, two-word bullets so I can easily remember the list and apply it to whatever I’m doing at the moment. If what I’m about to do doesn’t bring me closer to achieving any of these goals, I give it a strong second thought.
To bring it back to the original quote, everything we do brings us closer or takes us farther away from what we want to accomplish in life. This is especially true for the small things, even though we may not think much of them at the time.
The theme of ItStartsWith.Us centers around all the small, everyday things we can do to make a positive impact in the lives of those around us. When you take all these little things and multiply them by many people over a long time, they add up to produce world-changing effects. In the same way, when we consciously align everything we do with our broad life goals, we can accomplish some very big things over time.
So how about you? What are the things that drive you in your life? I’d love to see you leave a comment below and drop in your personal Big 5 . . . let’s use this time to get to know each other a little better, and maybe take away some ideas from one another as well.
- How To Do Big Things
- ItStartsWith.Us 2009 Year In Review
- Thank You
- A Solemn Anniversary – And A Choice
- Our First ItStartsWith.Us Meetup