I’m a rolling stone, all alone and lost. For a life of sin, I have paid the cost. When I pass by, all the people say. “Just another guy on the lost highway.” Hank’s words bring life to the morning before my brain knows what it should be doing with this body that it’s in charge of. I have a to do list for the day before I head out to grab a bite with a pal who’s celebrating his 29th birthday. Twenty-nine, not that old at all, an age that I’ll soon reach in the coming months, but also the number of years that dear old Hank lived on this earth.
Hank died at 29. Jesus died at 33. Dean at 24, Billy the kid at 21, Keats at 25, and Pat Tillman at 27; each giving more of themselves to this world than the majority of us will by 80. To live life as though we’re going to grow old with our wife, have grandkids, and die in our sleep is not only irresponsibly stupid, but a slap in the face of those who’ve come before us and haven’t reached the age where our skin wrinkles, our hair whitens, and our willy’s weaken. It’s a waste of this incredible gift to be able to live and breathe yet so many do both with an arrogance, living as though they’re invincible and impervious to time’s grasp and death’s gavel.
Life can’t be lived as so many of us do today even if the odds say we’re going to be here for 8 decades. It’s impossible. I say that it can’t be lived in such a fashion because life can’t truly be experienced if time is being taken for granted, and time is taken for granted if death isn’t an immediate focus or reality.
[Tweet “We move to avoid death and prolong life and completely miss life in the process.”]
We all know that life isn’t guaranteed, that we have no clue when we’re going to be taken or when this adventure will come to its end. We’re told this in every self-help book that comes out every year as they try to explain how life needs to be lived in the present. It’s become cliche. There’s no true meaning to the “live in the present” call to action. No meaning, that is, until you look at the aforementioned names, coming to grips with what you’ve done with the years that they didn’t get to live.
I Will Die in 5 Years. What Will My Legacy Be?
What have you done with the years that these great men didn’t get to live?
I’m doing this exercise right now. I’m setting my life up for the next 5 years acting and goal setting and writing as if my life will end in 5 years time. Five years is a long enough time that yes, things will change and you will evolve and your business and your goals and even your friends and your situation in life may alter, but it’s also a brief enough time to focus on a singular mission and see it through to its end.
The rest of the article will help you plan out the next and last five years of your life in order to make them as best as they can be, in order to make them the stuff of legend. Again, I’m doing this exercise right now so here’s how I’m mapping things out.
How Do You Want to Be Remembered?
Do you want to be remembered as a man who served, gave, and led, a man who earned and provided and sacrificed? How do you want not only people that know you, but people that don’t know you on a personal level to remember you?
Within the next 5 years what man are you going to become and how will the people around you or the people affected by you remember you and your deeds? Seek to be the best man you can possibly become within the next 5 years.
What do you want to be remembered for?
If you could leave this world with one thing, what would it be? Would it be your words, the lessons you’ve taught your kids, your company? What can you build in the next 5 years that will carry on your legacy?
These are your actions, the things you’ll leave after you’re gone and if you’re still around after these 5 years these are the things you’ll build upon.
With that, what are your priorities?
Write down what you want to be remembered for and who you want to be remembered as within the next 5 years. These will help you figure out your priorities, where you’ll give most of your time. Give most of your time to the things you want to build and in becoming the man you want to become and the man you want to be remembered as.
Don’t give any time to anything that takes away from both of these missions. Five years isn’t a lot of time, it’s not enough to spend even hours wasted on things that don’t propel you to new heights or what you want to accomplish to a new stratosphere.
Writing your obituary.
Bringing each of the previous tasks together, write your obituary. Not your obituary for 30 years down the line when you think you’re going to die, but 5 years from now. What will you have accomplished? Who will you be? How will you be remembered?
Write it down. Date it 5 years from now to this day. Now let’s start planning and working.
5 years. 1 year. Quarterly. Monthly. Weekly. Daily.
Don’t have goals, have expectations, and dare to have mighty expectations of yourself, hold yourself to a higher level of accountability. Expect these things of yourself, don’t wish them, desire them, or dream about them, expect them. This guy you’ve created thus far is who you are and what you’re going to accomplish is to be expected. When you get there and become him and do what you’ve set out to do, there will be no surprise or shock, expectation.
You’re working from top down with these expectations. From 5 years to the present.
Set the following expectations.
- Where do you expect to be in 5 years? Who do you expect to be in 5 years?
- Within the next year what do you expect to accomplish that will lead you to where you want to be in 5 years? It can be a list of things, but make the list as small in number as possible.
- Within the next quarter what do you expect to accomplish to be able to accomplish what you want to accomplish in a year, which will in turn help you be where you expect to be in 5?
- Break that down even further to then next month – what will you get done, finished, created, earned, in the next month?
- From there, break things down to your weekly and daily goals, expectations and tasks. Set goals every week that help you accomplish your quarterly and yearly and 5 year expectations. At the end of every night set goals and expectations for the next day.
A few tips:
Focus on what will actually lead to your success FIRST and foremost. That is, what’s most important? Put that first. Everything else is secondary.
Set weekly goals, but daily expectations. Every night empty out your brain and write down the things you need to get done tomorrow to get you to where you want to be which, in 5 years, is the end. Create your legacy one day at a time.
Be held accountable. Every week I have a call with a pal where we place a wager on our week. Whoever doesn’t get 4 big tasks done every week for their business owes the other guy money.
Aim Higher. Earlier.
Forget about the life you want to have when you’re 75, deal with that day when it comes and if it comes. Focus on today, and on building something great within the next 5 years. Think of the next 5 years as your last, they’re all that matters and yet there’s still enough time to rip through a wicked bucket list and build a great company and start a lovely family, teaching your seeds the lessons they need to thrive in this wonderful world.
Don’t, however, limit your aspirations or temper your ambitions because your time is limited; aim higher. Whatever field you’re focusing on, be it family, business, the type of business, the kind of life you want to create and lead and live, aim as high as your imagination will allow, then figure out and map out a route to make it your reality. Aim higher, earlier. Create more, sooner. Live mightier, dare mightier, now. Start the first day of the rest of your brief existence right now and never, ever look back. Skål.