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"Plan For Great Days—and a Great Life"
by Tom Goodman
September 8, 2006

In his TIPS newsletter of June 26, Philip Humbert (www.philiphumbert.com) shared this:

I love the quote from Annie Dillard, 'How we live our days is how we live our lives.'  If our days are stressed, chaotic, unfocused and unsatisfying, at the end of the year (and at the end of life) we tend to look back and wonder, 'What happened?'  On the other hand, if we make sure each day contains some joy, some gratitude, a bit of organization and purpose, some honest work and a bit of fun, I'm convinced our lives will be the same.
I've often joked that while I may not know how to live a great life, I can (usually) create a good day, and if I just put a few thousand good days back to back, that may come close enough to a great life.  So the question is not how to have a great life over 80 years, but how to have a few thousand good-enough days, back to back.  Here are a few suggestions:
First, plan each day.  After coaching hundreds of high achievers, I am convinced most of us do not put nearly enough time into deciding exactly how we want to live each day.  We don't choose our priorities, affirm our values, and make hard choices about how we will—and will not—use our time.  I use a 3x5 card to list my priorities each morning. I think it helps.
Second, surround yourself with great people.  There's an old proverb that says, 'Show me the five people you spend the most time with, and I'll show you your future.'  To some degree, of course, we are all surrounded by people we did not choose.  But we also have the responsibility to choose our friends and to associate with the best, most inspiring people we can find.  Choose wisely.
Third, write your biography in advance.  We tend to live our lives in accordance with a myth or story we tell ourselves, so why not tell yourself a GREAT story?  Write the 'script' for your own life, and read it often.  Think about it and re-read it daily.  Where are you going?  What will your legacy be?  Too often we get caught in the busy-ness of daily living and it pays to review and affirm your dreams every single day.
Fourth, read and learn from the great people in history.  It may be true that 'experience is the best teacher' but I've noticed that it also charges the highest tuition.  Life is short and we simply don't have time to make (and recover from) all the mistakes in life, so learn from smart people who have gone ahead and left a trail for us to follow.
Personally, this has been one of the greatest inspirations I've ever found.  In the past year, I've read biographies of Lindbergh, Churchill, Amelia Earhart, Benjamin Franklin, and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, to name just a few.  They were all flawed and none of them are perfect models, but they were smart people who achieved quite a bit, and I can learn from them.
Fifth, share the dream.  Tell your loved ones, your best friends and trusted associates where you're going in life so they can support you.  We all need cheerleaders in life, and the people around you will usually (not always—choose wisely!) offer help and encouragement if they know what you're trying to accomplish.  FDR had his 'brain trust.'  Most successful people have had a 'master-mind group.'  Every sports team has cheerleaders and so should you.
In the end, we get what we think about most of the time.  Over time, our lives pretty much look like our days and if you want to predict your future, look at your daily activities.  If there are things you need to change, change them!  If you need a coach, get one!  If you need to set better boundaries, re-affirm your values or assert your priorities, do so!  In life, we usually end up pretty much where we are headed.  Choose wisely, and day by day, do the 'little things' that make a great life.
That’s a good word for leaders!  Have a great day and I’ll see you Sunday!


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