Creating a 25-year plan is no easy task. For starters, it’s a long period of time. With more variables than I could possibly track or account for. Further, if past experience holds, my priorities and interests will change, not just once or twice, but many times; as I get new information, as the world evolves, as new options become available, as I grow older.
What will likely not change, or, if it does, will shift at only a geologic pace, are my values, my core beliefs, the essence of who I am as a person.
This was not always the case. When I was younger, I went through radical shifts and explored many extremes as I learned about the world and tried to understand who I was in relationship to it. I think this is normal. I was still in the process of creating the image of who I wanted to be. What my values were. What I believed was important. These are very core questions. And, when we are trying to figure out the answers, to test our options, to decide if we want to do it the way our parents did it, we often find ourselves pushed up against the limits of our relationships, trying to test what is possible, what is reasonable, what we can manage. During these early stages, adjustments to our self-image have an amplifying effect and result in large changes to the way this image is expressed.
But those early stages are over. In The CEO Zone we continue to explore and understand what our values are. But the shifts, generally, are less radical. This stage is not so much about creating a self-image as it is about shaping our lives in the image that we have already developed. Of course, this is more art than science and none of it is set in stone. Human beings are fluid creatures and we have the flexibility to change ourselves, even in fundamental or core ways, should we so choose.
The Problem with Buckets
Successfully negotiating life in The CEO Zone is NOT about making a Bucket List – that long list of everything we want to do before we “kick the bucket”. Its not that a Bucket List is a bad thing, its just too externally focused for my tastes. It is very focused on highly specific outcomes without necessarily much regard or aware connection to underlying values. More to the point, it is a very long to-do list, which, if you’re ambitious about it, becomes the central organizing theme of your life. And, I suppose, if your successful, as you near death, you can prove to yourself and others that, having checked off some number of those items, you have had a good life, a fulfilled existence.
I do not want a to-do list to serve as the central organizing point of my life. I do not mind using a to-do list to organize my day. That’s just basic time management. Especially if the items on my list reflect my values and over-arching goals; the immediate things I want to accomplish which will aggregate, kaizen-like, into larger projects. But I am not sure it scales.
I think one of the most exiting things about The CEO Zone is not that it provides a to-do list but rather that it is an ongoing exploration of my values; a rudder designed to steer my life in the direction of what is truly important to me, helping me to live intentionally by allowing me to understand what these important things are and to prioritize actions that bring me closer to having the life that most reflects who I am/want to become.
From the Zone...