Opinion: Use 2020 as the year when you plan the rest of your life

Jeffrey Bernel

Happy New Year and welcome to 2020. This article is the first in a series of business and personal articles for What’s New La Porte gleaned from my twenty years as a member of the faculty of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. My hope is that you will carefully consider what is presented and, if relevant, mold it to your life experiences. Feedback is always welcome.

Life Planning – “If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there?”

The following is an exercise I shared with every class I taught at Notre Dame. It is my version of the research from Dr. Jerry Bell, Professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the Bell Leadership Institute.

Personal Mission Statement
⦁ A personal mission statement provides clarity and gives you a sense of purpose. It defines who you are and how you will live.
⦁ Think through what are the most essential goals that you want to accomplish in your life.
⦁ What do you perceive are the most significant problems and opportunities that you see in the world that are important to you?

Questions to Ask Yourself

⦁ Define what “really, truly interests you.”
⦁ What do you love naturally that you don’t have to work at doing that in your spare time you think about, read about or accomplish?
⦁ What accomplishment would make you feel terrific?
⦁ What problems do you see that you could solve if you did this thing? Why do you want to solve those problems?
⦁ Review your personal psychometrics to determine what you really do well. What are your special talents? What are your unique skills that set you apart from your peer group? What are your weaker skills, the things at which you do not excel?
⦁ Try and make your personal mission statement specific and clear.
⦁ Who are your personal heroes? What makes them so? Benchmark yourself to them.
⦁ Is it practical?
⦁ Is it something that is worthy of your effort?
⦁ Is it something that you have the talents and resources that will allow you to reach your mission?
⦁ Are you thinking too small? Are you under-selling yourself? Are you taking a road that does not challenge you and stretch you to your potential?
⦁ How does this purpose affect all of your seven life goal areas?

Core Competencies

Six Core Competencies you should consider with your personal mission statement:
⦁ Love: Deep/trusting loving relationship. Caring at least as much for the other person as you do for yourself.
⦁ Work: Feeling of success, accomplishment, competency. Purpose/mission.
⦁ Fun/self-expression: Ability to be free.
⦁ Discipline: Self-discipline, self-control.
⦁ Purpose: Self-integrity, Mission
⦁ Confidence: Peace, stability, resiliency, security.

Personal Mission Statement Example
⦁ To live my life as an expression of the principals I believe in:
⦁ People shine when given the chance to create, express and grow. Empower.
⦁ People feel the need to be understood, just as, or even more strongly than the need to be loved. Listen.
⦁ People don’t need more opinions; we already drown in data. People need clarity. Drill down.
⦁ People learn from example, not only from words. Exemplify.
⦁ People are attracted to honesty and have bullshit detectors. Be true.
⦁ People need new experiences to expand their knowledge of reality. Adventure.
⦁ People can learn from their mistakes. Recognize, don’t fear, failure.
⦁ People search for simple solutions to problems when they are rarely simple. Dig.
⦁ People shine when they believe they can make a lasting impact; this may be the core of everything we do. Inspire.
⦁ People and companies are driven by visions, not ideologies. Lead.
⦁ Ignorance is fear of the truth. Truth is more important than pride. Learn.
⦁ A life without passion is a life not lived. Live.
⦁ Faith is the cure to doubt. Have faith.
⦁ When you forgive, you are forgiven. Forgive.
⦁ Love is stronger than death. Love.

The Seven Major Life Goals – Living a Balanced Life
⦁ The Seven Domains of a Balanced Life
⦁ Health
⦁ Money
⦁ Family
⦁ Personal Development
⦁ Career
⦁ Community, Religion, Society
⦁ Fun, Fun, Fun

The Life Planning Process
⦁ Under each stated goal, list 1-5 (or more) specific actions needed to accomplish the goal.
⦁ Consider a 1-2-year time frame if doing this for the first time.

Ask Yourself:
⦁ What problems will it solve for you if you do reach a goal?
⦁ Why do you want to solve these problems?
⦁ Keep raising these questions to push for discovery of the ultimate essence – the cause for your goal.
⦁ Do this for each of the goals in your seven life domains.
⦁ Next, find a common thread that underlies the root causes, the basic beginnings, the essence underlying each of your goals. Then relate the key themes back to your personal mission statement.

Are Your Goals (S-M-A-R-T)?
⦁ Specific–Does it have a clear end-point?
⦁ Measurable– Is there a way to measure or quantify that end point?
⦁ Attainable
⦁ Realistic —Is this something a person with your schedule and your particular talents and limitations and resources can reasonably expect to accomplish?
⦁ Time Limited and Time Oriented–Is this a project or process to which you can devote a specific amount of time every day, week, or month?

Example My goal is to:

Health: Lose twenty pounds by June 30, 2020
Actions: Just a few suggestions.
1. Visit with my physician to assess my current health
2. Make appointment with a dietician to create an eating plan
3. Set up an exercise program by January 10, 2020
4. Create a weekly log to measure weight loss
5. Join Weight Watchers

A Life That Matters

Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else. Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed. Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear. So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire. The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away. It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.

It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. Your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So, what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave. What will matter is not your success, but your significance. What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught. What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character. What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone. What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you. What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what. Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

“Choose to live a life that matters.” (author unknown)

Jeffrey A. Bernel, MBA, was a member of the faculty of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business for twenty years as a teaching professor and the director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship. He continues to serve Notre Dame as an Adjunct Teaching Professor. He was owner, chairman, CEO and president of American Rubber Products from 1979-1996 and chairman and owner of UniTek Sealing Solutions from 2006 to 2010. Jeff currently is the founding and current chair of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.

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