This week we have a guest blog from my friend, colleague and author of “Your Retirement, Your Way”, John Trauth.
Steve Jobs was a master at reinvention. He reinvented himself many times throughout his career (Apple, NeXT, Pixar, and Apple again) and in the process, reinvented ways in which we communicate and interact with each other and the world. He was able to observe the way things fit together, take them apart, and put them back together in new and unique ways.
Wouldn’t you like to do that for yourself?
Maybe you are not interested in taking yourself apart. But, if you are like most people, you have a number of personal goals. Maybe you are out of work and want to find a new job. Maybe you want to lose weight, get in shape, get control of your spending, rebalance your investment portfolio, learn a new language, read all the classics, etc., and in the process, become a better person!!! Some of us make lists of the various tasks that will be necessary to get us from here to there, while others prefer to proceed in a less defined way, hoping that it will all work out in the end.
It is no different when we face a major life transition. There are lots of things to do to create the next phase of our lives. However we do it, most of us become frustrated when it is not happening fast enough, when we are not getting all of our “To Do’s” done in the timeframe we have set for ourselves.
So we bash our heads against the wall, kick the cat, and resolve to do better in the future. If we have that list, we cross off one thing while adding two more and wonder why we never get to the end. The end is not the goal. In the end, we are all dead.
So how do we enjoy the journey while still making progress toward our life goals without becoming frustrated?
The answer can be found in two words: “focus” and “simplicity.”
A good friend of ours, Jim Horan, has applied these concepts in the business world with great success. He is the author of “The One-Page Business Plan: Start with a Vision, Build a Company.” He argues that focusing on long lists may be counterproductive to real progress. Sure, a good business plan needs to address numerous issues. But then, after the details are developed, he recommends simplifying it all down to one page. ONE PAGE??? How can this be possible!!! Well, if one page is all you’ve got, obviously only the most important stuff can fit there. And if we constantly focus on the most important stuff, that will increase our opportunity for success.
It works in the personal realm as well. With Jim’s permission, we borrowed his technique for our book, “Your Retirement, Your Way.” After starting with a careful analysis of your critical motivations –the ones which make you feel that you’re doing what you can and should be doing on this earth– you set your own personal goals, objectives and strategies. You then create a personal strategic plan which details how you are going to achieve your intended outcomes. Now, knowing the lifestyle you want and the strategy to get there, you re-organize your finances to support your “NewLife.” Then, you put it all on one page. ONE PAGE!!! No cheating. No tiny font. And not two-sided either. So just what are you going to put on this one page? Clearly only the things that are most important for achieving your goals and which will keep you focused on who you want to become.
The details on how to create your personal goals, objectives and strategies as well as the format for your one-page “NewLife Plan,” are more fully explained in our book, “Your Retirement, Your Way.” (McGraw-Hill). You can read more and download the first chapter at www.YourRetirementYourWay.com.
Once you have created it, you put this ONE PAGE someplace where you will look at it each and every day (in front of your desk, on the refrigerator, etc.) and say, “THAT is what I want to be and become! So what am I going to do today to get there?” This ONE PAGE gives you the focus and simplicity you need and keeps you from getting lost in the details with an ever-growing “To Do” list. It also will help create the emotional energy to help drive you forward toward your goals.
Of course there will be adversity along the way. Of course there will be stress. Of course you will try some things and fail. But succeed in others. The important thing is that you learn from all your experiences, make course corrections, and continue on your journey. You are, in essence, creating your own reality. If, along the way, you don’t like it, change it!
The point is, having made a choice to redefine your life, you now have a central document, a contract with yourself, which reminds you on a daily basis of who you are, how you choose to define yourself, and how you will create the life you want.
Steve Job’s mantra of focus and simplicity will help get you there.