Begin the Ending
Our Baby Girl began her final semester of law school this week. What a blur the last three years have been! Soon she will be, in the words of the Rugrats television series, All Growed Up. She has an excellent internship which she hopes turns into a full-time job after graduation and the Bar Exam. Her mother and I are really looking forward to a nice raise a few months from now.
Baby Girl posted a photo on social media next to the sign outside the law school. Her photo bears the caption, Begin the Ending.
Yesterday I officiated my ninety-one-year-old uncle’s funeral. He was a man of great deliberation. That is a polite way of saying he lived an unhurried existence. He was not lazy or slothful. He was focused and precise.
My uncle outlived his wife by seven years. Vivacious and joyful, she was his polar opposite. However, after she passed away, he soon took up residence in a nursing home. He was not bored. He picked up a bit of his wife’s joie de vivre along the way and was named last year’s Valentine’s Day King. He was well known for his ambition to dance with anyone willing to join him. He made the most of his last years.
You have heard the old saying attributed to Zig Ziglar, “You can’t go back and make a brand new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending.” Baby Girl’s formal education is coming to an end. Many new beginnings lie ahead of her. My uncle’s endings are over. Heaven is a long hello.
How about you?
Where are you in your story? What ending is near at hand? What new beginning lies ahead?
Stephen Covey says we should begin with the end in mind in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. What end are you focused on right now? What is just the right amount of vision in just the right amount of time? Since it is hard to be strategic beyond three years, how about using that as the one big qualitative goal deadline to work toward?
This one long-range visionary goal stretches you. It makes you dream big dreams. It causes your heart to beat faster. It is exciting. However, by itself, it is nothing more than a dream. You need a long-range strategy to accompany the goal which creates action toward living the life of your dreams.
What four things do you need to accomplish in the next one to three years to reach that three-year vision? These four big rocks turn this long-range goal into four significant strategic steps to achieve it.
Part of my three-year goal sounds like this:
I am a catalytic story coach helping people maximize their stories in a manner that honors God and serves others. I am focused on the few things I do well so that I can maximize my own story in my remaining chapters. I love the autonomy and variety I enjoy as I coach, consult, read, and write out of the overflow of my time with God. I have more time and resources to deeply invest in my family. We enjoy annual vacations in beautiful places where we reignite our love for one another and reimagine our future.
Note that this is written as if it is already reality. This is what I want my life to look like. This deeply motivates me.
One of the big rocks for the next one to three years is to become a subject matter expert in life planning. This will become reality through reading broadly in this subject area, systematic continuing education, and regularly facilitating life planning events.
The one short-range visionary goal focuses your work quarter by quarter to a series of significant achievements which empower you to accomplish your long-range goals. The daily, weekly, and monthly rhythm steps fill your calendar with short-range strategic meaning and purpose. You know what is important now and never have to wonder what to do next.
My current ninety-day goal is not nearly as impressive as it sounds.
I will complete one book manuscript each month.
Our assistant and I are working on a series of simple books to help people process what they learn from their Bible reading plans. These are tools which help us help others. We want to release a new book each month. That requires a workable schedule and attention to details.
One of my monthly steps is to collect and arrange thirty-one Bible verses about the topic of the month. This month is Joy.
Having completed a quarterly plan which moves me in the direction of my dreams, I schedule those weekly priorities for the upcoming week each Sunday evening. This weekly review keeps me focused on what is going well, what is going wrong, what is confused, and what is missing. This kind of weekly, quarterly, and annual planning has multiplied my productivity.
We are drawing near to the time of year when people give up on the resolutions they created around New Year’s Day. Instead of giving up until next year, start now toward that life goal you have held near to your heart for so long. Start turning that into reality.
Begin your brand new ending.
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6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
7 “Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
8 “Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
9 Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at all who are proud and bring them low,
12 look at all who are proud and humble them,
crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Job 40:6–14.
Job 29:21-25 21 “People listened to me expectantly,
waiting in silence for my counsel.
22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more;
my words fell gently on their ears.
23 They waited for me as for showers
and drank in my words as the spring rain.
24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
the light of my face was precious to them.
25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief;
I dwelt as a king among his troops;
I was like one who comforts mourners.