“I should have turned left at Albuquerque.” – Bugs Bunny
This is a famous quote by none other than Bugs Bunny when he ended up in a place where he had not intended to be and in a fight for his life.
In 2011 I found myself in a dark place which I did not foresee and was somewhat surprised. I had no plan, no hope and no future. I had lost my identity as a policeman (after retiring early), my defacto partner and her children, my business partner, my health (physical and psychological), friends, money and any joy or direction in life.
My choice was to give up life or start over. I could do the easy thing and give up or the right thing and get up.
Fortunately I chose to start over and decided if I wanted life to be better, I needed to change. To do that successfully, I needed a plan to focus my meagre reserves of energy and motivation. And so, the first life plan, later to become the 7 Elements, was born. Now, after following the various iterations of that initial plan, I am close to having my ideal life.
The ‘7 Elements’ is a structured approach to achieving your ideal life by understanding what you want your future to be, the critical Elements that form that future, and the priority actions and activities to undertake to move towards that ideal future.
The initial step or Element of the plan is your Future. You can consider what your ideal Future looks like in say, five years’ time (you can choose the time frame). What is important to you?, who are you spending your time with?, what are you doing?, Where are you? Etc. You can then draw this ideal Future.
Once you have a picture of your ideal Future, you can then consider the remaining six Elements and determine what actions you can take, under the heading of each Element, to move towards your ideal Future.
The Elements are:
- Fitness (physical, psychological and spiritual)
- Work and;
There is a priority order in the Elements.
Fitness takes priority. You may recall, the last time you flew, to place the oxygen mask over your own face before attempting to help others. Unless you have your complete Fitness, it will be difficult to effectively assist others and achieve the desired outcomes in your plan.
Family and Friends follow as you would hope they are a key element of your ideal life (long after you have stopped working). What can you do to enhance these relationships and who do you want to be part of your ideal Future?
Finance is important. We all need a level of income to support our chosen lifestyle and getting your finances sorted is an important action to reduce stress. Keep in mind however, that additional income and assets cease to be motivators for a better life if we do not have our Fitness, Family and Friends to enjoy them with.
“What do you call Bob the Builder when he retires? Bob.” – Anon
Work is a significant Element of our life and generally closely aligned to our Finances. I would strongly urge you to find your passion in work and enjoy the time you spend on that Element. Just remember, your identity is not your role at work. When your work is finished, you still want to have your Family and Friends around.
Fun is the final Element and one we can tend to lose over time. We forget what made us laugh and enjoy ourselves as other areas of our lives take over. Be in the moment and be conscious of how you spend your time. Have Fun!
Once you have identified all the actions and activities you could complete under the above Element classifications, it is time to prioritise the most critical ones to commence the journey to your ideal life.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
Determine the top actions you will take to start the journey to your ideal life, record these and then take the first steps. Be careful not to get too enthusiastic and set yourself up for failure. Take the first steps and build momentum at a sustainable rate. This is not a race given we all end up at the same final destination.
“The examined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
This Socratic quote may be a little harsh but there is value to living your life consciously. You may have to adjust your plans as circumstances change but I would urge you to live your life with purpose and celebrate your wins along the way. You may just reach that ideal future you planned for…
Thanks for reading.