Having just turned 60, and reading about setting goals and being successful, I have decided that my next decade is going to be the best of my life. I’ll mention again that one of the books I’ve just finished and that prompted some of my recent reflection is The Magic of Thinking Big, by David Schwartz. He advises to compute how much productive time you have left. The book was originally published in 1959 and life expectancy has grown since then. But he calculates that you have 20 percent of your productive life for each of the five decades between age 20 and age 70. He would say I have just started my last productive decade. I have gleaned four steps that are necessary for me to begin this next, best, decade.
(1) I need to plan and set goals for what I want to accomplish. I started this a couple times over the last two years and have some goals, but now need to get more specific and make sure they are all written down in one place. I was prompted to begin this process with the free ebook Creating Your Personal Life Plan, by Michael Hyatt. You can get this ebook by signing up for his blog, Intentional Leadership. Without goals and timeframes it is too hard to track any progress, or lack thereof. Then it becomes easy to waste time and just occupy my mind watching reruns of Law and Order. Then I am on the path to mediocrity rather than the path to my best decade.
(2) I need to constantly battle my tendency to procrastinate. I’ve talked about the Spanish coworker who told me mañana does not mean tomorrow. It might be tomorrow or it might be the next day. But mañana means “not today.” Too often mañana means never, which translates to failure. For success, I need to say I am going to do it or start to do it right now. I had a personal milestone this past week and took two weeks to accomplish something I had battled doing for years. My success in this one area has helped me to see that this next decade is going to be my best.
(3) I need to focus on what I don’t need to do, or better said, on what I need to not do even more than what I want to do and accomplish. The plans and goals help define what I want to accomplish and by when. But in addition to fighting procrastination, I need to look at all the things that are a waste of time when viewed from the perspective of whether they contribute to my overall goal of the best decade yet. Watching TV is one of those, perhaps even the amount of time I spend watching news. There is so much I want to read, much of it directly related to my long term goals that I need to be selective and not spend so much time reading things not in line with those goals.
(4) Finally I need to take action and make application. It is not enough to read motivational positive books on setting goals and then planning and setting my goals. I need to take action to move forward towards the accomplishment of those goals. I must make application of the principles I hear and read, and that I recognize are necessary to make this my best decade. Without application all the knowledge and insights are like the exercise machine collecting dust or gym membership unused.
How about you? Could these four steps help you be more productive and get more out of life? Whatever your preliminary steps, determine to take action and make application, now.