photo by by chefranden (flickr creative commons)
My hypothesis is that the answers are different depending on whom you ask. So I'm curious...
- Length in years?
- Accomplishments? (If so - what kind?)
- Impact? (If so, on what? Or on whom?)
- No regrets?
- Financial success?
- Fun? Laughter?
- "Goodness" (i.e. not getting in trouble)?
- Number of children raised? Cats adopted?
How will you measure the success of YOUR life?
It doesn't need to be your "final answer". I would love to just hear your thoughts. What are you leaning towards including in the overall assessment, when you look back on your life from your retirement party or your deathbed?
Please share in the comments below...
- Hugs and cuddles when I go into each of their rooms in the morning;
- The excited dancing and jumping up and down when we mention anything from "playground" to "plums" to "Grandma's here!"
- Elizabeth's knowledge of animal sounds. My favourite is the whole-body shake she does as she "neighs" like a horse;
- Oscar offering to give me a back massage when I tell him I'm tired or have a sore back. It lasts about 10 seconds and he's still working to get the pressure right, but I'm sure he'll eventually get the knack...
- Seeing their ecstatic faces in the window, and them jumping up and down on the couch, when I come home from work;
- Elizabeth's pleasure in washing her hands - she loves to just stand there and let the water run over and through her fingers;
- Oscar taking his sister's hand in the playground and saying, "I'm going to take care of you, Elizabeth," as he leads her toward the slide;
- Their immense joy when we arrive at the pool a few minutes early and they have time to play in the waterfall splash area before their lessons;
- Oscar giving kisses, one by one, to each family member (he even kisses himself on the arm);
- The way they thoroughly enjoy their meals. Sometimes, Oscar will even say, "You made a delicious dinner, Dad!";
- Oscar saying, "I love you, Mom" for seemingly no reason at all, and Elizabeth following suit by saying "lovoo" (never to be left out).
Watching the "In Memoriam
" segment of the Emmys tonight made me sad and reflective. It's not just because I had a glass of wine (okay, two) that I'm feeling a bit emotional. Or that many of the actors listed reminded me of my childhood and adolescence (Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Falk, Leslie Nielsen, Tom Bosley...). It's that it's hard to watch videos of people at the height of their acting careers, knowing that their careers (and lives) are complete.
It made me think about what I would like to have on my life's "highlights reel" (and by "highlights reel, I do NOT mean this
. Or this
I mean - what do I want to look back on, and be proud of, in my life?
Obviously, the "big events". My wedding day. The births of my kids. Their first steps, and their first words. And of course all the big stuff still to come: my kids' wedding days, the births of my grandchildren...
I imagine work stuff will come into it too. A new client? A promotion? A great performance review from my boss? I know these things make my day (even my month), but will they really be included in my life's "highlights reel"? Probably not. But what might
make my reel is the enjoyable moments
I have at work. Going for lunch with a few colleagues and talking work politics. Someone telling me my coaching made a big difference in their life. Telling my mentor how much she means to me, how much I admire her, and seeing this strong, amazing woman with tears in her eyes because no-one's ever said that to her before.
It's the same with my family. It's the little moments that will be my favourite highlights. Playing peek-a-boo and giving (and receiving) zerberts. Tickle-fights. The silly songs my son makes up. I know there will be many more of these moments, and I wish I could record them so I could play them back later.
Of course I would also include the time spent with my husband, extended family, or good friends. Enjoying a glass of wine after we've put the kids down to bed. A romantic getaway to Whistler while my mom kindly looks after the kids. Surprising my friend at the nail spa so we could squeeze some time together into our busy lives. Camping trips, beach days, aquarium visits, living-room dancing, cottage weekends... these will all be on there. Having a clean house? Probably not. Fitting into my pre-pregnancy jeans? Nope. Don't get me wrong - it's a good feeling. But it won't make my reel.
So... what's on your "highlights reel"?
When you are asked to describe yourself, what do you say? Do you list:
- What you do for a living?
- How many kids you have?
- Where you grew up?
- Where you went to school?
- Your hobbies?
Do these bits and pieces truly describe who you are? Of course, they're all accurate. They describe aspects of who you are, but they only scratch the surface. What about your values? Your passions? Your life priorities? Your "essence"?
If you've worked with a coach, a mentor, a therapist, or another professional, you may have had the opportunity to dive deeper and define your values and purpose. If you haven't spent the time to do this, you probably aren't living your "ideal life".Why?
Because to map out your "Big A" Agenda - the path you want your life to take, your life's purpose - you need to be clear on what you're passionate about, what truly makes you tick, your values, and your priorities.
Because then, for each decision you need to make (from "what should I have for lunch?" to "should I apply for that promotion?"), you can ask yourself how well each choice aligns with your Agenda.
Because then you can prevent yourself from getting sidetracked, becoming lost, or "falling off the wagon".
Because then, one day, you'll wake up and realize that life's pretty great. You wake up and are excited to start your day. You've got more on your "accomplishment list" than on your "to-do list", you're proud of who you've become, and you LOVE your life!
Photo by Ava Lowery.
So now you're probably thinking, "Where do I start?"Well, of course I'm going to say, "Start with a free sample coaching session"!
I can work with you to discover your values, your passions, and your priorities, and to map out your "Big A" Agenda.
You can also start with this simple, but enlightening, exercise:Reflecting Back on Life
Imagine you are very old (whatever "old" means to you) and you are sitting at home relaxing in your rocking chair. You are looking back on your life, reflecting on everything you've achieved. Write down your answers to these questions:
- What have you accomplished?
- What are the highlights that you enjoy re-living?
- Whose lives have you touched?
- What difference have you made?
- What are you most proud of?
What are the main themes that emerge? These give you an indication of your core values and priorities, and can help you define your life's purpose, or "Big A" Agenda.
Once you've done that, contact me for your free sample coaching session
, and together we can use this information to map out the path you want your life to take, and take the first few steps along that path.
We each have an idea of who we would like to be and the lives we would like to live. Think about your own ideals. How are they different from who you currently are and the life you're currently living?
Do any of these sound familiar?
- You tell everyone you "love the outdoors" but can't remember the last time you went hiking, camping, or kayaking.
- You see yourself as a patient, fun-loving parent, but you frequently find yourself raising your voice when the kids are ignoring your requests.
- Living a "green" lifestyle is important to you, but sometimes you just don't have time separate your garbage, walk rather than drive, or use cloth diapers.
- You envision yourself as fit and athletic, but you never seem to find the time to go to the gym or participate in the sports you love.
- You hate the idea of eating packaged food, but regularly cooking fresh, whole foods takes so much energy, time and planning that you just don't know where to start.
It all becomes a little overwhelming, doesn't it?
Well, I'm here to reassure you that you don't need to do it all at once. Just make one or two small changes, and you'll be amazed at how you'll feel rewarded and more confident! This will then have a ripple effect
to other areas of your life, and some of those big, scary changes will start to seem more and more within your reach.
Need some inspiration? Head over to Eager Beaver (live like you give a damn)
to get some fun ideas for your bucket list. Sara Kinninmont talks about choosing "to live your life with intention, breaking out of long-held routines and comfort zones, filling it with adventures, big and small. The focus is on feeling alive, right now."
Matt Cutts (Engineer at Google) gave an inspiring TED Talk entitled "Try Something New for 30 Days"
. He talks about biking to work, writing a novel, giving up sugar, and other challenges he gave himself. Some of them stuck, and others he discarded on day 31. It sounds like a fun way to get closer to living your "ideal" life, or maybe discovering that what you thought
was your ideal life was really more about what other people
expect from you. But that's a topic for another blog post. :)
So, will you accept my challenge? If so, please share with us in the comments... what new thing are you going to try?