Time To Write Your Story

I had the most interesting conversation last week with a client of mine. He told me he handed the President of his company a blank piece of paper and said, “The Paper is going to write a story about you and its ten years from now – what will it say?  Write it down”.

Wow! While I certainly have been goal oriented all my life, I’ve never heard anyone put it in this way. So, of course, it got me thinking about my own story and what I would like it to say.

Surprisingly, I realized the challenging part of this exercise is that it’s just ten years – it’s not like writing your eulogy, or what the end game is, but simply the path during the next ten.

Let me preface that my purpose for writing this article is not to share my story, but to get you thinking about your own. I will however share a bit of mine to get you thinking.

So, I began logically. Sharon, think of each aspect of your life – family, career, health, finances, spiritual etc.  Quite frankly, that’s when it started to get hard.

My first thought, family, freaked me out – Katie, my daughter, will be 18 in October…holy moly, in ten years she will be 28! She could conceivably be married and have children of her own. My heart is now pounding. So as a Mom, I wrote that I would like my daughter to have found a terrific love and that they are blessed with a healthy family. Myself, yeah it would be nice to also maybe be married – but I make no commitment to that part of the story. I focused more on being a great Grandma. A Grandma, oh my.

I did set goals around building a new home. My home will be way too large for myself and a kitty, so I got very excited as I thought through not only what I would want my Appleton home to look like, but also a place to go so I could escape at least a bit of winter once Katie is out of college.

Next I moved to career – well, unless some unforeseeable act of God happens, it’s likely I’ll be in the same career. I will however only be a few years away from retirement in ten years – and that brought out all kinds of emotions from “how did I get that old?” to “I sure hope I’m financially ready to retire”.

There is much to be done at work. I’ve hardly achieved all my goals, but there is something about the comfort of loving one’s career. So I decide rather than focus on retirement, I focused on how far I want to move the needle in my business over the next ten years.  This exercise also created a new energy around possibilities, not only for me, but for my teammates. I set revenue goals, profit goals and leadership development goals for the folks that want to make this business their career. I’m excited about watching this one unfold.

I’m now starting to see why this exercise is effective. By not focusing on what the end game looks like, but a stretch of runway, it actually helped me to get a clearer picture on growth and not sliding into home plate.

I also realize how fast the last ten years went. So making sure I keep this document in front of me and vowing to review it frequently will be key – otherwise I will turn around and in a blink of an eye the ten years will have passed.

Next I focus on fitness, not my favorite category. Being truthful, I’ll probably be struggling more to remain fit, as I already have the aches and pains of arthritis. But because I’m so much like my father who “never wanted to be old”, I vow to keep up the fight. I set what I think are good but realistic goals, mainly around staying flexible and keeping my weight in check.

Once I completed each area and what I thought was realistic yet a stretch, I let it sit for a while. I wanted to take some time to really understand if I was being wishful or if I truly was focused on all the right things for myself and those most important to me. I also am a realist – lots of twist and turns can happen in ten years. But I also know that it’s a whole lot easier to achieve a goal if you know what it is you want to accomplish.

So here is my challenge to each of you. Whether you are 18 or 80, I challenge you to think about what your life will look in ten years. I truly believe in the power of the mind and if you write it down, visualize it and review it…you can have everything you’ve ever wanted. Not that it will all be easy, it’s just achievable.

The Paper just requested your content – start writing your story.