If you’re like most people reading this, you regularly use a GPS app on your smartphone to help you get where you want to go. What difference would it make if you had a GPS for your life? As you think through and plan for what you want from 2015, you can use these three simple questions in this post to create a Life GPS® to help you get where you want to go.
The Life GPS® is a personal planning tool that my wife and I came up with when we were parents of two young boys and had very busy lives filled with work, family and community commitments. We wanted a “one pager” that would keep us focused on how we wanted to be and the routines that would help us show up in a way that led to the outcomes that were most important to us in the different arenas of life. Over the past fifteen years, I’ve used the Life GPS® to help thousands of clients and readers get clear about what they’re trying to do and how they need to show up to do that. The Life GPS® is at the heart of my most recent book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. There’s a lot more in the book than we can cover in one blog post but here are the three big Life GPS® questions to help you get started with setting your direction for 2015. (You can download an editable Life GPS® worksheet here.)
How Are You When You’re at Your Best?
This first big question is all about recognizing the characteristics and behaviors that reflect how you are when you’re showing up as the best version of your self. Your answers to that question should be based on the self knowledge that comes through a bit of quiet reflection on the times in your life when you’ve felt most comfortable and productive. What you’re looking for is the non-sports equivalent of what athletes call being “in the zone.”
What you’re doing by answering this question is setting up a reference point for your best case performance state or your preferred state of being. As you get increasingly clear about that, you’ll begin to see where the leverage is in showing up that way on an integrated basis in all aspects of your life.
What Are the Routines Will Help You Show Up at Your Best?
One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Aristotle – “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” The basic idea behind this quote is that if you want to be a certain way (excellent for example), you have to do things that reinforce that state. It’s one of those ideas that is so simple it’s brilliant.
That’s why it’s so important to identify and implement “easy to do, likely to make a difference” routines that help you to show up at your best more consistently and more often. The routines that will become part of your Life GPS® fall into four domains:
Physical: Your physical health – energy, strength, flexibility, balance and stamina – is the foundation for everything you do.
Mental: Your mental acuity and capacity to make mindful choices about your life and work can be enhanced by routines that keep your brain healthy and your neural networks strong.
Relational: The important relationships in your life – with family, friends, co-workers and loved ones – can be enhanced through mindful routines that keep them vibrant and resilient.
Spiritual: Regular routines can help keep you connected with your answers to the biggest picture question of all – “What am I here on earth to really do?”
Effective routines often have a ripple effect that enable you to show up at your best more often by cutting across one or more of these four domains. You don’t need to load yourself up with a bunch of new routines to make it more likely that you show up at your best. The more mindful approach is to choose a few that are relatively easy for you to do and likely to make a difference in your life.
What Outcomes Do You Expect to See in the Big Arenas of Life?
In his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, Gandhi wrote “In regard to every action one must know the result that is expected to follow.” With that in mind, the last of the three big Life GPS® questions encourages you to consider the outcomes you would expect to see from showing up at your best in the three big arenas of life:
- Your life at home,
- Your life at work and
- Your life in your broader community.
What difference do you want to make with your life at home, at work and in your community? In the midst of the overworked and overwhelmed state that all too often comes with modern life, it can be hard to remember to even ask those questions, let alone answer them. Before 2015 moves into overdrive, take a little bit of time to get clear about your expected or hoped for outcomes. You won’t be looking for answers that need to last you for the rest of your life. Rather, you just want to get clear on the outcomes you’re hoping for in each of these arenas as of now.
You don’t need to solve for 100 percent. There are so many variables at play in life that none of us control that spending a lot of time trying to solve for 100 percent just doesn’t make a lot of sense for most endeavors. Life is just not that linear. By the time you have enough information to solve for 100 percent, the variables will have changed anyway. You don’t want to get attached to specific outcomes that are not within your span of control, but it’s good to have an idea of the quality and nature of the outcomes you want. It’s the classic example of the idea that the quality of the journey is as important as the destination.
Investing thirty to sixty minutes in creating your 2015 Life GPS® can yield big dividends throughout the year. Good luck in creating yours. Let me know how it goes!