Ever wonder where the time has gone? It seems like every December, we lament how quickly the year flew by. Where did the days go? We pledge to spend more time on life's real priorities. We make resolutions to spend more time with family, on our health, and personal growth. Yet, nine times out of 10, within a few days after New Year's, we fail to carry out our best intentions. In a year from now, we may be asking the same questions and experiencing déjà vu.
How can we maximize our potential and enrich our relationships this coming year?
Live backward. It works in business, and it can work for you. Reverse-engineer your year. Here is how it works.
Imagine yourself as the CEO of a budding beverage company. On a trip abroad, you discover a little-known no-calorie drink that leaves you feeling like it is the best drink on earth. You replicate the product by analyzing the ingredients. You develop a prototype for production.
What if you could do the same with your life? What if you developed a prototype for your best you? Where do you want to see yourself on Dec. 31, 2013? Create the vision and design the steps to realize your goals -- day by day and week by week.
If you reverse-engineer your year, you will more likely live the year now with a renewed sense of purpose and passion. Your goals and resolutions will be realized as never before.
How do you get started? Here are three steps.
1. Develop your prototype.
What is the life you want to lead? Develop the vision of the life you truly want to lead and for which you want to be remembered. In a year from now, what do you want people to say about you? What values do you stand for? What are your gifts and your unique potential? If you only had two hours to live, who would you spend time with and what would you write to your children or loved ones?
These questions and more form the foundation for reverse-engineering your life. Answering these questions will enable you to focus on your legacy for the year and also uncover your deepest pleasures and sources of fulfillment.
Before Jan. 1, develop the vision of the life you want to lead in 2013. Write a letter dated Dec. 31, 2012 to yourself stating what you have accomplished that year. The process will unlock your highest aspirations and establish a personal statement of your best self.
2. Discover meditative moments.
How do you ensure you actualize your vision for the new year? One of the key components in reverse engineering challenges us not to wait for a crisis to awaken our inner selves but to craft a moment of reflection. How can you discover a "meditative moment"? The options range from prayer, walking, yoga or simply being alone and apart from the "noise" of daily life.
A story is told about a farmer who misplaced a valuable watch somewhere in his barn. He asked everyone to search up and down to find his precious heirloom. Unfortunately, despite hours frantically looking for the timepiece, it was nowhere to be found. Later in the day, a young boy announced to the farmer with great joy that he found the watch. Astonished, the man asked the boy how he was able to find it even though only hours before so many people had searched high and low. The boy responded, "Well, once the barn was quiet, I put my head to the ground and heard the watch ticking."
We may only find our inner voice when we turn off the static from the outside world.
3. Live inspired each day.
We all know the power of one moment. Moments are as numerous as the stars in the sky, and any one of them could prove to be the most significant of our lives. Yet, we miss them. Two obstacles stand in our way: Paul McCartney and Annie. We are caught with Paul in the past and captivated by Annie in the future.
As Paul sings, "Yesterday, all my troubles seems so far away, now it looks as though they are here to stay, oh I believe in yesterday." We are held captive by mistakes of the past and do not have the courage to move forward. How many of us have not spent many moments reflecting on moments lost in regret and opportunities lost? Times spent in the past are exactly that -- moments lost.
On the other hand, how many of us spend time dreaming of the future, looking to a moment to come? As Annie sings, "Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow; you are only a day away." Every day is focused on anticipating the future.
The moment we must seize right now is the one in front of us. It is not easy. We live in a generation with many distractions. Even when we try to be focused on the day -- today -- we are affected by CPA. Not certified public accounting, but a syndrome called CPA: Continuous Partial Attention. We pay continuous partial attention in effort not to miss anything -- multitasking, Blackberrys, surfing the Web, answering our cell, yet in the end we gain nothing.
One of the most important life lessons I ever learned was in college from my speech teacher. He spoke about the importance of compartmentalizing one's mind. If when I am at work, my mind is at home and if when I am home, my mind is at work, I am nowhere. I will accomplish little in life.
As Erwin McManus writes, "There are few things more powerful than a life lived with passionate clarity."
Find your focus for the new year. Live 2013 in reverse, and you will ensure a year not only worth remembering next Dec. 31, but 2013 will be a year of realizing your potential, renewing relationships and a year you will celebrate for the rest of your life!
To learn more about reverse engineering your life, visit www.whatwilltheysayaboutyou.com.
For more by Rabbi Daniel Cohen, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.