Living Forward: Summary and Key Takeaways

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Living Forward is a fantastic little book about helping us figure out what our life plan is, and how we can drop everything in our lives to follow that plan and live purposefully.

It was written by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. Turns out Daniel Harkavy is a coach to Michael Hyatt, and is one of the world’s leading life coaches.

The book is a concentration of Daniel’s wisdom, with Michael Hyatt’s input, all lumped together into one fantastic vision for the future.

We all crave purpose in our lives, and that purpose starts with a vision. This is the definitive book that you need to find that vision.

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So let’s dive into a few of the key takeaways from this book.

Are You Drifting?

The authors describe the concept of “drift” as the act of blaming our circumstances on other people and living without a plan for our future.

This book, on the other hand, is about having a plan. It’s about taking responsibility for our actions and the reality of our lives.

So in order to get our life in order and really move forward, we have to know where we are drifting. Because we may have a plan in one area of our life, but be drifting in another.

So when you break down the different areas of your life, in which one are you drifting? What area of your life is not improving?

On the other hand, what areas of your life are thriving? Can you see any difference between your attitude towards those areas in your life, and the areas that are lacking?

Chances are, you are giving those thriving areas of your life more attention and focus.

So start by writing down which areas are thriving and which are drifting.

The Definition of the Life Plan

The authors of this book have a very specific definition of what a life plan is. They put it this way: “A Life Plan is a short written document, usually five to fifteen pages long. It is created by you and for you. It describes how you want to be remembered. It articulates your personal priorities. It provides the specific actions necessary to take you from where you are to where you want to be in every major area of your life.”

A couple of important things there:

  • How you want to be remembered: this is an important concept that many other authors share, the idea that if you could read your own obituary, or listen to the eulogies at your funeral, what would people say about you?
  • Your personal priorities: in this life plan you outline the most important things in your life, and how you can reach for them.
  • Specific actions: the plan includes a list of actions that you must take, specific actions that will lead you towards your goals and into better harmony with your priorities.
  • Length: the life plan can be between 5 and 15 pages long. For some this might be long, for others it might be short. But it is an interestingly specific number.

Though not mentioned in the quote above, another key factor is the idea of a fluid plan. Your life plan can grow and adjust to life changes. In other words, you have permission to tweak it all the time.

Three Powerful Questions

The authors present three key questions that you should consider when determining how you want to live your life plan. They are:

  1. How do I want to be remembered? This goes along with Stephen Covey’s idea of beginning with the end in mind. You need to know where you’re going in order to get there. So what is your outcome? How do you want to be remembered? What are those ultimate goals that you should reach for?
  2. What matters most? If you only had one day to live, what would you do? Who would you spend your time with? This should give you an idea of some of the most important things in your life. You may discover that (gasp) binging Netflix might not be the best use of your time. Instead, you might want to spend more that time with family or doing something that has a lot more meaning in your life (I’m not saying that binging Netflix is bad, I just doubt that most people reading this would do it on their last day of life).
  3. How can I get from here to where I want to be? Once you know where you want to go, and once you know where you are, it’s time to figure out how to connect the two and get to where you want to be. It might not be a straight path, but once you know the beginning and the destination, it becomes much easier to plot out the steps you need to take to get there.

I encourage you to think about your eulogy and what you’d like people to say, then imagine how you can get to that desired outcome. Identify the steps that will best take you there, and identify the things that are most holding you back.

Narrow those down to one thing, i.e. the one thing you can do to take the biggest step forward, and the one thing that you could stop doing in order to get where you want to be.

Pull Power

In order to reach for your goals, you have to stay motivated.

The authors state that, “A goal needs to draw you. … Pull power is essential to reach our goals. You need to see a future with such clarity and desirability that you will go through all the uncomfortable things life throws at you to attain it.”

This is why writing down a goal and reviewing it every day is so powerful. It keeps you focused on that goal and creates that “pull power” that is so useful to create the life of your dreams.

One of the ways to do this is to be as specific as possible when crafting your vision. What kind of car are you driving? Who are you married to? What does your daily routine look like? How much money are you making (down to the thousand)?

Visualizing this specific feature will give you that pull power, especially if you review it consistently.

I recommend that while you craft your vision, you explore each area of your life. This includes your health, your relationships, your career, your money, what you do for fun, and the impact that you are having on the world.

Take Care Of Yourself First

The authors point out that if you want to make an impact in the world, serve others with all of your heart, and be the best version of yourself, you have to take care of yourself first.

If you are constantly pursuing your life plan with no regard for your personal well-being, you will burn out and burn up.

This takes the form of self-care. Self-care is essential for maintaining a healthy life, and if your life plan does not account for self-care it will not support you in the long run.

So how do we take care of ourselves?

Common techniques include taking vacations, spending time with love ones, disconnecting from our devices and the Internet, eating a healthy diet, exercising, going for nature walks, etc.

Don’t Delay

The authors discuss a key principle that was originally brought forth by Jim Rohn, called The Law of Diminishing Intent.

This law states that when you are motivated about something, the longer you wait to do it, the less likely you will actually do it.

What this means is that you cannot put off the life of your dreams. If you are fired up about your vision, you have to move toward it now, today.

You’re motivated, if you’re inspired, you have energy. Good. Use that energy and get going on the life of your dreams.

Best Quotes from Living Forward

“You can’t take care of anyone else unless you first take care of yourself.”

“Those who feel satisfied with their personal lives are more satisfied with their careers and perform better.”

“You life matters. You are here for a reason. Your job is to determine why.”

“You have been given a gift—your life. What will you do with it?”

“You are in a much better position to serve others when your basic needs are met and your “tank is full”.”

“What we believe about something often creates the outcome we experience.”

“One of the best questions you can ask when something negative happens is this: What does this experience make possible?”

“So many of us have settled for what is, rather than what could be.”

“We have more control than most of us realize. Each day is filled with thousands of opportunities to change the story of our lives.”

“People at any stage will profit by taking the wheel and getting pointed in the right direction.”

“You can’t get where you want to go unless you start with where you are.”

“Making appointments with yourself and scheduling other things around them is key to proactive self-management.”

“Unless we take the time to regain our perspective and face the reality that life is short, we risk arriving at a destination we didn’t choose—or at least one we wouldn’t prefer.”