14 October 2004

The following is an excerpt from LifeFocus' Challenge Newsletter. It was written by Jerry Foster, Financial Planner, CEO and founder of Foster Group. He's also one of the speakers for Family Life Marriage Conferences - where we ran across him. Take a look at what he had to share this month:

The underlying question that most of us ask ourselves is; "How do I get from here to there?" We have all created an ideal by which we live, strive for improvement and measure our success. The first thing we need to determine is where we are getting the information that determines the criteria we use to create that ideal. What we are talking about is "success". How do you define success? The input we get for creating our own definition of success comes from television, movies, billboards, commercials, books, magazines, friends and even church. We are impacted by the way our culture sees success and that means virtually everything around us influences the way we think. The key to resisting the alluring temptation of "cultural success" is to create a personal success filter. This filter is built by internalizing several strategic questions that will help us determine what is most important to us as we evaluate opportunities and make strategic choices. The way this happens is to take part in what I call "The Life Reflection Exercise". Imagine this scenario:
See yourself in your nineties, moving a little more slowly, but still mentally sharp. You step out onto the deck of your cabin by the lake, a favorite vacation spot of yours for decades. You ease into a comfortable chair to enjoy another glorious sunset. Caught up in the wonder of the moment, you begin to reflect on your long and pleasant life. The memories flood back, and even the stunning radiance of the setting sun is no match for the glow of satisfaction and fulfillment that warms your heart.
Putting yourself in this ideal setting, what do you hope you could say about the life you have experienced? In other words, what would you like to see as your life draws to a close?
You see, you have defined the life you want to live. This is your personal definition of success. In order to have a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction with the life you have lived requires intentionality. Here are some strategic questions that need to be answered:
1. What accomplishments have been the most rewarding for you? Why?
2. What brought you the most excitement and joy? Why?
3. What relationships meant the most to you?
4. What did those relationships look like?
5. Where did you have the most influence?6. What words do others use to describe you?
These questions help you create a filter for creating your preferred future and give you a basis for making decisions and forging new paths in your life. Whatever choice you are making, or whatever goals you are putting before you, ask yourself this question;
How will this choice or new opportunity change my answers to the above questions?
If the outcome will enhance the picture of your preferred future, then go for it. If it alters it in a compromising way, then it requires some rethinking.There is one last question we must ask ourselves when painting a picture of our preferred future.
What needs to happen today in order for that preferred future to become a reality?
You are now on the way to pursuing the life you want under your terms. Don't let others tell you what your life should look like. The outcome of your life is a personal journey that is forged out in the context of what is important to you.
Until next month, enjoy your personal journey of "influence".

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