This is a Young Professional Advice from Friends post written by Chris J. Gaddis from Chrisjgaddis.com and the author of Athena’s Gift. YPAF is a collection of voices from different ages, places and industries to share advice on starting a career and conquering your twenties.
I was contacted by Katie to write a guest post for this blog. As I was thinking about the opportunity and what to write about, I thought back to the whole reason I am now doing, what I am doing. I will spare you the long story and just give you what you need to know.
My wife and I graduated from Keuka College, a beautiful college on Keuka Lake. Graduation weekend is always held on Memorial Day and my family and my wife’s family decided to rent a house on the lake for the weekend. Ever since then every Memorial Day weekend we rented a house on the lake together.
In 2009 we again rented a house on the lake. Through a long series of events, that I feel were truly meant to be, our dog Athena ended up getting hit by a car and died that weekend. Looking back it seems as if my whole life was being pushed to this one moment in my life. The events and occurrences of my life up to that time seem to fit together like a puzzle; the different pieces coming together at that exact moment.
Needless to say it was a pretty sudden and unexpected death that affected my wife and me greatly. I could not shake the feeling it was “meant to be” and immediately tried to decipher why that was. What I learned, summed up in one sentence, is life is too short to do things you don’t want to do.
And this is what my blog is all about. I decided that I wanted to spend more time with my wife and kids. I wanted to work for myself and stop making other people rich from my efforts. I came up with a plan to do this and I have now implemented it.
This is not an easy thing to do. Athena died almost 5 years ago. This plan was supposed to be implemented within one year and I am just getting to it. I feel guilty I did not get it done sooner. Unfortunately, life is like that. We all have the best intentions, but ultimately life gets the best of us and we find ourselves 15 years later asking “How did that happen?” So we all need that guidance and a jumpstart.
In the end, happiness is different for everyone. It could mean any number of things. I am also a firm believer that happiness is a choice that we can make. Whether it is being happy with our self, our spouse, our job, or whatever else the case may be. To find true happiness, you just have to do and be what you want; no matter what that is or what people say. And it is never too late to do so.
After Athena’s death, and in my search to help it all make sense, I put together a personal action plan that followed these six steps and it helped me to take a snapshot of my life and analyze if that is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to change. So I want to leave you with a 6 step process to getting what you want out of life.
- Create a Mission statement – Mine was simply “To translate what gives me joy, fulfillment, and makes me genuinely happy, into money and a career that will allow me to work for myself and spend more time with my family.” This meant starting my own business as a Coach to help individuals and small business owners to get what they wanted out of their life and business. Formulating this statement allows us to create a short sentence that summarizes exactly what we want from life and this will help to keep it in the forefront of our minds. So anything we do, any decision we make, will hopefully be made with our mission in mind.
- Make a list of your priorities –This list will make your decisions easier as you will know what is important to you. Anytime there is a conflict consult this list and make the decision based on your priorities. Here is an example of my list.
- Work / Money
- Service to Others
- Hobbies / Recreational Time
- Take an Inventory – List every single thing in your life. The people, organizations, career, hobbies, and anything else we spend time on in our lives. Write a short summary of each thing. Explain what it means to us, what we get from it, and if we are neglecting other areas of our lives because of it.
- Make Decisions - Take this list and make a decision on every aspect of your life. Decide whether time you spend on certain activities could be spent helping you achieve other goals in areas of your life. Decide if you will continue some activities, change others, or start a new one. Time is the most precious commodity we have; do not waste it.
- Develop a Plan – The most important step. Develop a game plan of what has to take place to reach your dreams and make it happen. Also tackle you goals for your life. Break it down into small time frames a week, a month, a year, and then longer 5, 10, 20, 30 years out. These will constantly change so check them frequently.
- Schedule it, Tell Everyone, Follow Through, and let nothing stand in your way – By scheduling your goals and your action items it allows you to set definite deadlines. That gives you a better chance of sticking to it. If you tell everyone what you are doing you are now creating ownership of your goals. And of course nothing can stand in your way if you let it. If you find yourself making excuses you are giving up too easily.
I know it may seem crazy that some dog changed my life, but it was the lessons I learned from Athena that changed my life. We all learn differently. Hopefully, after you read this and do these steps it will be enough for you to do it. Apparently I needed more to have it stick with me; don’t let that happen to you.
If you liked what you read here please feel free to visit my website at www.chrisjgaddis.com and subscribe to my blog. You will also be able to purchase the book I published on my life with and after Athena entitled “Athena’s Gift.”
If you are having trouble starting your personal action plan contact me and I will send you a copy of mine to reference. Best of Luck!
Chris married his high school sweetheart, Christy. They now have two children and reside in Rock Hill, SC. He currently owns and operates a Financial Services and Coaching company. He also wrote and published “Athena’s Gift.” You can learn more about Chris at http://www.chrisjgaddis.com.