What do you want from your life?
At the end of your life, if you could choose one word (or concept) to describe your life, what would it be?
We will all be known for something. Certainly, some will be more known than others, but in the end very few people will be known. Just consider how many people you can name from history prior to 1800. For many people reading this blog, a healthy portion of those names will come from the Bible or from the period around the American Revolution. If those names are removed, the list will shrink substantially.
Still, being famous may be your goal. But famous for what? How will you achieve that?
Questions of significance are a constant part of life. Will I be liked? Do I look ok? Am I capable? Etc. All of these questions and so many more are a part of helping us determine our significance and even our identity.
Now, our identity is truly something different than our significance, but it does influence how we think about ourselves and thus, it will affect the system we develop for ourselves. Again, this series is about developing a personal system to guide YOU and that guidance is dependent on who you are, what you desire from life, and what you believe is possible and are willing to do to make those desires reality.
Very simply, as I define it, the SYSTEM is based upon four components – VISION, MISSION, STRATEGY, and STEPS. I believe CALLING can be a fifth step, but not everyone believes in CALLING, or not in the same way, so I will just stick with the other four components (although I will share my CALLING).
As I mentioned last week, my SYSTEM is unashamedly based upon biblical ideals. I am a follower of Christ, and thus, all aspects of my system relate to that fact. As such, each aspect of my SYSTEM has Scripture to back it. Actually, I should state that Scripture informs each component (and sub-points). That is, my SYSTEM starts with Scripture. It was designed with Scripture in mind rather than simply developing a system and then matching a few verses to it.
If you are not a Christian, the ideas in this series will still work for you. However, I want to be clear – I am approaching this from a biblical worldview and with Christian intent, so that will dominate the choice of my words and energy. This blog is about living in, not of the world, so the SYSTEM described throughout this series has that idea at the forefront. However, if you wish to follow along anyway, and make adaptations, I am thankful you trust me to lead you through this process.
Now, as for adaptations, each one will have to make many adjustments. I will share the principles and how those principles fit into my SYSTEM, but your end of life goals are different than mine, your experiences are different from mine, your abilities are different than mine, and thus your SYSTEM will be different from mine.
And that SYSTEM begins with what the end goal is. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we must know where we are in order to get where we want to go. But we have to choose a destination. If not, we will just spin around in circles. Walking on a track is good exercise, but it does not lead anywhere. So, knowing where you are is important, but taking time to reflect on what you truly want from life is critical.
Last week’s post ended with the following questions:
- What is important in your life?
- What do you want to accomplish with your life?
- What resources do you have, or will you need, to accomplish your goal(s)?
Like the first couple of lines on this post, truly reflecting on those questions can help you begin the journey. What is the purpose of these questions?
They provide you with a VISION.
VISION is important. It is that end goal that keeps us moving forward (or desiring to move forward when we can’t). A VISION is something we strive to be at some point in the future. It is possible to change the scope of your VISION over the course of life, but the essence of the statement will likely remain the same, in my opinion (at least for most adults).
Many people have different ideas of VISION. Some combine the idea of VISION and MISSION, for instance. I do not. I see VISION as the end of the goal (the journey). VISION is the WHY. MISSION helps us achieve the VISION. MISSION is the WHAT. Then the STRATEGY is the HOW, and my STEPS are the points of action to affect the HOW.
So, what is your VISION for your life?
One common way to approach this thought is to consider what you want said about you at your funeral (or what you might want on a headstone, if you have one). This goal is important as it will serve as the foundation for everything else in your SYSTEM. So take time to consider what you truly want. It may be specific or it may be more ambiguous. Just make it something that you is so important to you that you are willing to sacrifice less important ideas to achieve your VISION. In other words, in the midst of the unexpected (like COVID), what goal will serve to redirect you?
For me, my VISION is simple in words, and profound in meaning. My VISION is: “to be the man God has called me to be.” This VISION is based upon Ephesians 4.1 and 5.1. Ephesians 4.1 is a call to walk worthy of my calling as a child of God (and even moreso as a pastor, professor, etc.). As I strive to live according to Ephesians 4.1, I begin to imitate God, which is the command in 5.1.
Now, I know on this earth, I will never fully achieve my VISION. And therefore, some will say that it is not a valid VISION. I see their argument. It is unattainable on this side of eternity, but it is my goal. And it is my VISION. I will not achieve it in this life, and that is a problem. But I will achieve it when this life ends, so I want to prepare myself as best as I can while I am living this life. So, as we shall see, the rest of my SYSTEM is designed to help me move towards this goal.
I am not perfect. Not at all. But if I do not have a target, then when I get off track, I will be unable to reset, and get back on track. Any of us can have a difficult time getting back on course, but without a goal to guide us, the difficulty grows exponentially.
So, the SYSTEM begins with having a VISION. And the VISION begins with understanding who you are and what you want from your life.
Therefore, I encourage you to review the questions I posted last week and at the beginning of this post. As you reflect on your answers, you may discover new questions that need to be addressed. In fact, I suspect you will have more questions. If so, I think that is good. Take time to reflect further. The more thinking you do on the front end of building your SYSTEM, the more likely you will have a SYSTEM that truly reflects who you are and what you want for (and from) your life.
And that is exactly what this series is designed to help you do. In other words, that is my VISION for this series of posts on this blog.