Succeeding in What Matters

Have you ever thought about where you want to be when you're 80 years old? And I don't mean rattling off the quick, easy answer - I mean figuring out the long, detailed answer that really requires you to dig deep and be honest about what you want for your life. 

This question is one of the central questions included in the PowerSheets prep work. And, to be honest, it's a question for which I have given the quick and easy answer in two years of using this goal setting tool. In my 2017 PowerSheets, I wrote that when I'm 80 I want to be happy, alive, and still traveling with Kurt. I want to be surrounded by family and I want to be in a space that is clearly mine. None of those things are wrong... but they also aren't answers that required me to really think about the question. 

  Kurt and I with my grandparents at our wedding shower, 2015. 

Kurt and I with my grandparents at our wedding shower, 2015. 

For the past three weeks or so, I've come back to this question again and again because during this time, both of my grandparents - ages 80 and 84 - have been in and out of the hospital receiving care for some pretty recent and serious health developments. 

I'm sure that neither one of them would have listed their current situations as where they wanted to be when they were 80. And because of what they are now experiencing, I think it's natural that I'm coming back to that question. 

  My grandpa and my uncle enjoying a trip around the lake during our wedding weekend. 

My grandpa and my uncle enjoying a trip around the lake during our wedding weekend. 

I don't excel at thinking about "the long game." Kurt, however, is great at this. He can easily describe the type of career he wants to have, the impact he wants to make on the community he's living in, and the type of home life he wants to have 10 to 15 years from now. I, on the other hand, cannot project in that way. And so I'm finding that as I think about getting older, I start to wonder if I'm truly living in a way that will help me work towards where I want to be when I'm 80. 

Each time I revisit this question and try to think more about the long game, I keep coming back to one word: intentionality. Are the daily choices I make intentional enough to lead me in the right direction? Are the plans I have for my career intentional enough to provide the salary, flexibility, and environment that will support my desired lifestyle? And do I really know what the "right direction" or my "desired lifestyle" will be 10 or 15 years from now? 

  My grandma with me and my bridesmaids getting ready before the wedding. 

My grandma with me and my bridesmaids getting ready before the wedding. 

In PowerSheets, Lara Casey writes that "making it happen means succeeding in what matters." 

Recently, I feel like I've been stuck focusing on my daily to-do lists and responsibilities. As a result, I'm not spending time thinking about what these daily actions will eventually lead me toward. What these recent events concerning my grandparents have reminded me is that this mentality of immediacy isn't going to help me achieve the long term things I want for my life. 

And so, over the past three weeks, I have felt my definition of "what matters" begin to change. I've started spending more time talking to God and reading my Bible. I've started listening more to my body and thinking about how I fuel it each day with food and rest. I've started thinking about questions that will help me identify what I want my career to look like in 10 to 15 years. All of these actions are helping me to refocus and refine my definition of "what matters", and determine more clearly where I want to be when I'm 80. 

  This is one of my very favorite photos from our wedding day - laughing by the lake with my grandparents. 

This is one of my very favorite photos from our wedding day - laughing by the lake with my grandparents. 

Considering and intentionally focusing on the actions that will help me land where I want to be when I'm 80 is something I am going to keep thinking about this year, and I hope you'll join me in assessing your own lives as well! 

Have you thought about where you want to be when you're 80? What are some long-term hopes and goals you have for your life? What are you doing now to set yourself up to achieve those? Share your thoughts in the comments!