Strategic development, also known as strategic planning, is fundamental to creating and running a business or one’s life. Simply put, it is a blueprint that outlines specific goals and objectives for pre-determined success. Business goals and objectives are certainly important, but no more so than the life’s purposes of the founders, executives, and employees of the business. I think that we would all agree that the long-term success for any company is critically dependent upon the vision, goals, values, and expectations of its leaders. How they, or you, might develop those vitally important characteristics is the focus of this document.
As a former licensed architect, I fully understand the importance of a master blueprint for building something as important as your life’s purpose. One of my favorite adages is to begin with the end in mind. In other words, have a vision for whatever it is that you want to accomplish. It is never too late to start doing something positive in your life and the best way to begin is to have a blueprint or a plan.
In the famous tale of Alice and Wonderland there is a part of the story where Alice is wandering on a path in the woods and comes to a fork in the road. Not knowing which way to go she sees a Cheshire cat lying on the branch of a nearby tree. So, she asks, “Mr. Cat, I’m lost, can you tell me which road to take?” To which the cat responds, “That depends; where do you want to go?” To which Alice responds, “I don’t know.” To which the cat responds, “Then it doesn’t really matter which road you take.” The question is, where do you want to go on your life’s journey?
What do you want your life’s purpose to be? Again, my recommendation is to begin with the end in mind and use a blueprint to help you get there. But not just any blueprint, this blueprint, this set of plans should be custom drawn specifically to your specifications. As an architect, whenever the project was first assigned, the design team would visit the site that the building was to be built on and spend quite a bit of time there; sometimes an entire day just experiencing the site, the traffic flow, the orientation of the sun, prevailing winds, and so on. We wanted to help ensure that the building to be built would maximize everything the location had to offer. I would suggest that you take sufficient time to architect your life’s plan just as thoroughly, don’t rush it. Get away, be by yourself and quietly reflect upon and ponder what your truly would like to accomplish in order to achieve the freedom you sincerely desire for yourself and your family, if you have one.
There are many self-help books and online articles having to do with goal setting and life purposes that go into great detail about identifying a myriad of items, thoughts, strategies and ideas to accomplish this objective. Rather than approach this topic in that particular manner, I prefer to simplify it a bit by using an easy to remember acrostic as a blueprint for what you are trying to achieve in terms of setting out to Visualize, Realize, Materialize, and the Capitalize on your life’s purpose. What better word to use as the focus than the word LIFE.
The first letter in Life is “L” which stands for….Let go of whatever is holding you back.
In your quiet time be honest with yourself. What is it that you believe is really holding you back in life? Is it your past mistakes, your current job, a challenging health condition, bad marriage, poor self-image, a bitter divorce, financial difficulties, physical impairment? Whatever it is, no matter how difficult it is, I empathetically and respectfully submit that it does not have the power to define you or your future. You can overcome virtually every challenge with the right positive attitude, and I will add…the right spiritual beliefs. Please know that I am not minimizing any setbacks, but I truly believe there is a silver lining with every cloud. Some of life’s greatest triumphs have come from what appeared to be a devastating tragedy.
As examples…well known individuals such as Helen Keller and Stevie Wonder are two of the people who quickly come to mind because of their triumph over blindness.
Although his name is practically synonymis with intelligence, Albert Einstein had a learning disability and did not even speak until he was 3 years old.
A well known French journalist, Jean Dominique Bauby suffered a stroke at the age of 43. After waking up 20 days later, he could only blink his left eyelid. Diagnosed with Locked-in Syndrome, a debilitating disorder where your entire body is paralyzed but your mental capabilities remain intact. Despite his condition, Bauby dictated an entire best-selling book by blinking one eyelid, even though it took him 8 months to do so. Now there is an example of persistence.
And perhaps the most triumphant hero of all is Nick Vujisic. A gentleman who was born without arms or legs, yet taught himself to do things like skateboard, write with a pen and even surf. Today he is a motivational speaker, a husband, a father, a best-selling author, and the winner of the Australian Young Citizen Award.
These individuals, and thousands like them, refused to see themselves as victims but instead as victors. As I said earlier, let go of whatever is holding you back and press on with the vision that has been waiting to be released inside of you. Today is the day and now is the time.
The second letter is “I” which stands for…Inscribe your vision.
As you begin to set yourself free to dream again, write down what you see as the vision of the life you want to help create. Do not try to organize your thoughts at first. Just write down what you want, what you feel and who you want to join you on your life’s journey. A huge part of your vision should focus on WHY you want to succeed and realize who you will become during this process. Later, as you begin to crystallize your thoughts; compile your vision into affirmative statements such as:
In 30 days, I will enroll in a Debt Elimination course and implement it.
In 3 months, I will volunteer to head up the local Food Bank.
In 6 months, I will take a series of golf lessons followed by a 3-day golf vacation to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho with my special companion.
In 12 months, I will have paid off $6,000 in credit card debt.
In 3 years, I will own my own business and work remotely if I choose.
In 5 years, I will have set up trust funds for each of my children.
When my life on earth is over, I want my children and loved ones to remember me as the happiest, most loving, generous person who always had time to listen to them, mentor them, make them laugh and take special trips making memories together.
Write down an affirmative statement about every goal you have as you visualize them and materialize your vision by writing it down. Now go one step further, read them out loud to yourself as you are looking in a mirror. Point to yourself in the mirror and tell yourself…you can do this, you are not a victim, you are a victor, and nothing is going to stop you. Keep saying it until you begin to get it from your head to your heart and believe that it is true.
The third letter is “F” which stands for….Follow the plan to freedom.
After you have written your Vision Statement and your Why, it is now time to realize that you need a specific plan to accomplish your goals. This is a perfect time to identify a mentor, or a coach…someone who has been where you want to go and is willing to help you get there yourself. This is also an appropriate time to quote another one of my favorite sayings which is, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Frequently there is someone within your sphere of influence who can be your teacher, but you need eyes to see them and a heart to reach out to them. Once you have mastered the system and developed the desired life skills, you will then be in position to be a mentor yourself; whereby each one can teach one for sustained longevity and legacy. As the “A Team” used to say on television, “Don’t you love it when a great plan comes together?”
The fourth letter in Life is “E” which stands for….Enjoy the journey.
Now that you have successfully Visualized, Realized and Materialized the Master Blueprint of your life’s purpose, it is time to Capitalize on the benefits. In my theology, the journey is the destination. By that I mean that I love to enjoy my creator’s presence in the present. Will I make some mistakes along the way…of course! But here is another adage to always remember when you are on a “Star Wars” type of journey to a galaxy far, far away and you find yourself wandering off course. Take a deep breath, relax and then implement this 3-word irrefutable strategy…”Correct and Continue”. One of my mentors told me to fail forward until I succeeded. What he meant was, do not be afraid to make a mistake or take a risk. Challenges and obstacles are a given. Ancient scripture says that, “in this world you shall have tribulation” so be prepared for failure; it is a rite of passage. Thomas Edison literally had a thousand failures before the light bulb was invented.
Let me ask you a question, “How many times did you fall as a toddler before you could walk?” Who cares! The pain was worth the gain. I cannot begin to tell you how many really bad golf shots I hit prior to m finally having my first hole-in-one, but I can tell you they were all worth it. In my lifetime I had probably made over 50,000 casts until I caught my first 8-pound large- mouth bass in Florida several years ago. But that did not stop me from fishing and believing that I was going to catch a bass that large on every cast prior to it finally happening.
Looking back on those personal accomplishments, everything I did wrong was necessary for me to get it right. That is the way life is supposed to be. But in our previous examples; when you experience that relief to realize you are debt free. When you see the look on your children’s faces when you tell them about their trust funds. When you can go to sleep next to someone you love knowing that person is sleeping soundly with a smile on their face because of the financial and personal freedom you have been responsible for gifting them with; trust me, it will all be well worth it.
That is the vision of a life well lived; a living blueprint of a life that is waiting for you to enjoy and celebrate from your heart. Here is a chorus from one of “Casting Crowns” hit songs, “Just to know you and to make you known we lift your name on high. Shine like the sun made darkness run and hide. We know that we were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive.” It’s your life song. Sing it loud and sing it proud. Carpe diem…seize the day and show them the way!