Living backward to move forward the right way?

Whether you are a Woody Allen fan or not, he tends to have an interesting lens to see the world… I found his quote on living life as I was reflecting upon what my aspirations and hopes were for the coming year:

“In my next life I want to live my life backwards. You start out dead and get that out of the way. Then you wake up in an old people’s shoe feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension and then when you start work, you get a gold watch and party on your first day. You work for 40 years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You party, drink alcohol, and are generally promiscuous, then you are ready for high school. You then go to primary school, you become a kid, you play. You have no responsibilities, you become a baby until you are born. And then you spend your last 9 months floating in luxurious spa-like conditions with central heating and room service on tap, larger quarters every day, and then Voila! You finish off as an orgasm.”

As funny as it is to read this, Woody Allen does have a point. Thinking about our goals for the next year (something most of us do over this change in calendar year) is too narrow of a focus to get it right. It may allow us to be more deliberate in our choices in the context of our most immediate goals. But really, for these choices to be the right ones, we need to know about our general “compass”.  Finding this compass ultimately determines whether we lead a life that carries purpose (or not). Building on what Woody Allen suggests, we need to start with the very final moment of our life, when we are taking some of our last breaths. Who do we want to be surrounded by? What would we like for these people to say about us once we leave this earth for good? What are some of the choices we hope we would have made? And now, taking the wisdom we have gathered, if we had the ability to go back in time, to this very moment, and to talk to ourselves as you if we were looking at this scene through a screen. What advice would the old wise us give give this person? How could we help them be a better professional, and more importantly, lead a better  life? What would we tell them on what matters, and what doesn’t?

In coaching as we partner with clients to help them to set the right priorities and to make good choices, we use this exercise, ‘Create your own legacy’ on a regular basis.

What do you want your legacy to be? The North of Neutral team will take this winter break (we will be back on Monday, January 28th) to fill it with activities around the holidays and some of our regular client work. But we also commit to setting aside time to reflect upon our own legacies as we move into 2013.

In this spirit, we thank you for your loyalty over this past year and look forward to serving you in a strong, positive way in this coming year – to offer you our attention, time and ideas, all of which are intended to give you the results and legacies you wish to create for yourself.

Happy Holidays!