Living Forward in 2019

Happy New Year to everyone on this New Year’s Day in 2019!   I wanted to share with you all the experience I had with the Life Plan system put forward in Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s book Living Forward:  A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life you Want.   I used the system last year in 2018, and decided that since I had such a positive experience with it that I would try it again this year in 2019.

So if you are looking to increase the passion and progress that you are making in all areas of your life, then I recommend this book.

Here’s how it works.

Understand your Needs

One of the reasons why the holiday movies Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life are such perennial favorites is because they are ultimately very hopeful movies that speak of redemption.   Despite how much you have messed up in your life in the past, you can still redeem yourself and gain a positive future if you change your behavior in the present.

That essentially is the worldview behind Living Forward.   The first step is imagining your own funeral, and what eulogies will be said on your behalf by all the people that attend them.   What would you like them to say about the legacy you left behind?   This is a very emotional exercise, and I can tell you it is the most difficult because it requires you to be vulnerable and look at your faults in the most honest way imaginable.

However, just like in the movies I mentioned it, it always enables you to feel the sense of hope of a positive future.  Then once you have pictured this envisioned future in as much detail as possible, you can go on to the next step.

Create Your Plan

Okay, you have an envisioned future and your current reality, you can now work on a plan to get from here to there.

Once the reasons why I like the Life Plan process is because it is a full-spectrum plan, meaning that it covers every aspect of your life.   You first determine your various life accounts, or the various aspects of your life.   Here are some suggestions, but of course you can tailor them to your particular situation:

Circle of Being (focuses on you):  Physical, Spiritual, Intellectual

Circle of Relating (focuses on relationships to others):  Social, Parental, Marital

Circle of Doing (focuses on your work):  Financial, Vocational, Avocational (hobbies)

For each account, you give an account of how it went in the previous year:   were you experiencing passion and/or progress in each of those areas?   Rank them in terms of your priority of what you would like to work on.   Normally it is best to focus on those priorities in your Circle of Being, and then to focus on those areas that you are lacking in both passion and progress.   It’s easier to raise your passion for an area first, because that passion will be the “wind in your sails” that inspires you to have greater progress.

You then figure out, for each account, those five or six specific accomplishments you would like to achieve by the end of the year in each account.   And that, my friends, is the essence of the work you have to do in the following year!

Implement Your Plan

You create space in your calendar for many of the activities you will need to do in order to accomplish your goals, after you account for the various fixed activities that you would have to do in any case (birthdays, holidays, work-related activities, etc.).

What I do is I take those yearly goals I figured out in the last section, then I break them out into quarterly goals/tasks.   Then I take those quarterly goals/tasks, break them down into monthly ones, and then the monthly ones into those I am going to during the first week.

Voila!   I have taken the macro plan and broken it down, like a true project manager would, into a series of tasks that can be done within a week.

Even though Michael Hyatt says you need a day to do the entire process, I find that it can be physically and mentally exhausting to try to do it in a day.   I used the time on my vacation to my cousins in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to do a bit each day.

You should avoid being a perfectionist and try to do the best you can on your plan–believe me, you will be reviewing it on a regular basis so if some new situation comes up, you will be able to adjust your plan accordingly.

So I recommend you get the Living Forward book to help you create a Life Plan for the upcoming year!   As a bonus tip, I recommend you get Michael Hyatt’s Full-Focus Planner that helps you do the breakdown mentioned above.   Otherwise, you can just get a journal-like notebook and use that to do the exercises mentioned in the book.

Why I am recommending it, especially to project managers?   Because it treats your life as a project, and a lot of the approaches you already take towards your projects at work, are perfectly adapted in Living Forward to the biggest project you will tackle in the coming year!

Leave comments if you have any questions about the approach–either in terms of logistics or how it might be able to help you personally.   I did so much last year, so I can attest to its power as a tool for moving forward.   And that’s why I am doing it again, because I want to continue my progress I did last year!

And for those who are dreading creating an endless list of “to-do’s”, one of the reasons why I appreciate this approach is that, on the micro level, it has you build in to your schedule those activities which will help you recharge your batteries.   One of the insights that Michael Hyatt gives you in the Full-Focus Planner is that sometimes being (taking time off for your enrichment) is as important as doing things either for others or for your job.

It is therefore truly a full-spectrum plan that covers every conceivable area of your life!  Try it this coming year and see!






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