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Always Be Thinking About These Things

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Dreams. Because it all starts with a dream or an idea. Recapture your lost dreams, create new ones, and find a way to make them real.

Living. Because as Bob Dylan said, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” If you’re not sure what to live for, try peak moments and big adventures.

Influences. Because none of us lives in a vacuum. Who has helped you become who you are now? (And have you thanked them lately?)

Relationships (near and far). Because relationships are central to everything else. Is there a phone call you need to make? What can you do to help someone, or at least show them you care?

Passion. Because life is short, you might as well spend it doing things you’re excited about. It’s only an overused word because most people don’t know what it is.

Destinations. Because you need to know where are you going, whether it’s a real destination or a representative one. (If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.)

Deliverables. Because producing something worthwhile leads to a meaningful life. Every day you can wake up and think, what’s next? It’s often easier to focus on deliverables than a time schedule that may vary depending on what else is going on.

Growth. Because it’s not about growth for the sake of itself, but if you have something good and you can build it further without losing anything, why not grow?

Metrics. Because you need a way to measure your journey. (I measure AONC by subscribers and trackbacks. I don’t care about site traffic, page views, search engine optimization, etc.)

Legacy. Because this is the most important thing! What are you building? What is the story of your life, and what will be its ultimate impact on the world? (More here.)

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Hint: sometimes it’s difficult to think about the bigger questions like legacy right away. That’s why you start with some of the easier ones. If you’re not sure what to do on any given day, do one thing that helps someone and one thing that brings you one step closer to the dreams you identified at the beginning.

So … what are you thinking about today?

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Image: Wolfgang

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46 Comments

  • Destinations & deliverables are delicious!

    While I certainly consider each often, I could do a much better job of really visualizing destinations and following through on deliverables.

    It’s not enough to have a vague idea – vague ideas create vague results. I want to be crystal clear.

  • Brett says:

    I finished reading your book last week, and loved it! This post reminds me of the things you talked about in it that I’m all too quick to forget. I find it interesting that you don’t care about pageviews on this site though–perhaps that would be more important on a strictly product based site?

  • I think about Legacy (and Impact) every day.

    Given your last post on mortality, I think that building a legacy of generosity that is worth remembering is the greatest way to combat death, because you’ll likely live on in people’s memories as someone who made a difference in the lives of others. This quote incorrectly attributed to Emerson sums it up pretty well:

    “…To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
    To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
    This is to have succeeded.”

  • grace says:

    Reading this blog the last couple of months has really triggered a set of actions in my life. It’s affirmed everything I always suspected was true and given me permission to begin to live the life I’ve always wanted. I love your quote ‘If you don’t know where you’re going, you will probably end up somewhere else’. True words. Keep inspiring people and helping them break free! You are a freedom writer sir!

  • Vince says:

    Speaking of Growth and Dreams I just updated my ten year goals last night. I haven’t updated them in a while with my new situation.

    While updating them, I also glanced at my goals for this year. (I will be making new ones for next year soon). I had to laugh at them. I don’t think I got any of them done. That’s ok though. My goals shifted a lot this year.

    A quick example….I wanted to take my GRE test to get ready to get a MBA, but instead decided that I would start my own business!

    I never thought about my legacy before though. I should spend a little time on that.

  • Joshua says:

    I’ve been thinking about intention. Why do I do things? Do they have a purpose, or do I just do them because I’ve always done them? Does the activity have benefit to me? From work to fun to rest I want to be intentional about what I do.

  • Lydia says:

    Sometimes our passions are also deep sources of joy but each can exist independent of the other. Life needs to have at least a little joy. It makes the rough days easier and the good days even better.

    Nothing good can come from interpreting _everything_ in a life-or-death matter!

    I was also going to mention compassion because I believe it’s one of those things that makes (and keeps) us human. I can see how that would dovetail with relationships or legacy, though. 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    I love the energy of this post, but I feel like it needs to acknowledge that not knowing the answers to every single one of these questions is okay! (and human) We can’t all walk around ready to list our passions, dreams, legacy… and sometimes all we know is the journey we want to take, not the destination. I’m learning, increasingly, that life is fluid, and awareness of answers to these questions are fluid, too. I love asking the questions but feel like this particular post is a bit too “deliverable”-oriented to fully resonate for me.

  • Laurie says:

    I’m thinking about donating to Kiva as a Christmas gift for my family, instead of buying expensive gifts. And I’m thinking about ways to increase traffic to my blog. Thanks so much for the continuing inspiration! You help me dream big and keep my balance in life 🙂

  • David Jehlen says:

    Great questions. While some of them can make us uneasy, that’s not a bad thing. There’s seems to be a trend that believes we should always be comfortable, have all positive thoughts and not feel like we are challenging ourselves. The “comfort zone” is way overrated and often dangerous to our growth. Ask sometimes tough questions, pay attention to where we feel disappointment, reach outside the comfort zone to create breath-taking and life-changing moments. Lay it all on the line.

  • Sarah says:

    Just what I needed this morning. Great list. Thanks, Chris.

  • Mark Harai says:

    Passionately pursue the components of life listed above and you will not be denied a wealthy, fulfilling, exciting, adventurous, meaningful, worthwhile life. I love this post Chris, thanks for sharing…

  • Rob says:

    Today I am thinking about deliverables! and relationships…I think both need growth in my life at the moment. I can’t help but to seek passion as I get “caught” up in ideas and life minutia either.

  • Sheila Mackay says:

    Thanks for asking 🙂
    I’m thinking about starting a new project to help people share skills and information.
    I’m also thinking about a way of getting my community involved in an Internet based activity with digital photography.
    It’s good to know there are like minded folk out there 🙂

  • Contrarian says:

    Chris – I’m curious … if you where to force-rank your list from most important to least, how would you order them and why?

    I think the answer to this question can be very insightful and tells you allot abut a person.

    As it was explained to me many years ago, in life we move from … 1). survival 2). stability 3) success 4). significance

    The person that is simply trying to put food on the plate for his family, strives to be stable. The person who has achieved success, works toward leaving a legacy. Example: the person that is in the survival mode rarely thinks about his legacy.

    Often times greatness can be identified early on by finding the rare individual that is barely surviving yet is consumed with his/her legacy.

    – appreciate your great blog!

  • Morgan says:

    First of all I want to say that I love your emails and anticipate what it says. I love your spirit and passion and try to transfer the same concepts into my own life.
    As far as what I’m thinking about today…I am really thinking about my future and how I can transition my life into what I want it to truly be.

  • Kurt says:

    Chris, thanks for the post! What am I thinking about today? Actually several of the things you mentioned. Am in Quito, Ecuador and will visit a kid I sponsor through Children´s International (legacy), going hiking-climbing (living-passion) and my brother left a voice mail yesterday so I´ll find a phone to call him back (relationships).

  • Tim Dean says:

    Thanks yet again Chris for a positive push. But I have to ask, why do you consider legacy “the most important thing”?

  • Betty says:

    I started thinking about Legacy. Now that I have two daughters I want them to learn about solidarity. As Michael Jackson would say, “if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change”. The world is too big… somebody needs, at least, your attention.

  • Rick says:

    My journey to fulfill my dreams has only begun. The books that were offered at the 72-hour provide the tools I will need to be successful, and this post will be an inspiration to me each morning as I start my time. Thanks Chris.

  • Sue Martin says:

    As a 64-year-old painter (with two previous careers), I’m sometimes discouraged thinking I might not have enough time left to accomplish my goals. Then I break out of that funk by thinking “productivity” and “legacy.” Not creating is simply not an option; I’ll stick with my goals and see where they take me.

  • Jacqueline says:

    Excellent post, thank you for this!

  • Davee Bryan says:

    …and as George Harrison stated…”If you don’t know where you’re going, Any Road will take you there.”

    Nice post, Chris. Thanks. db

  • badgoat says:

    I am thinking about how I can not let my family influence me going to grad school. I am already highly recommended for a great program and in contact with them. I want to study the breeding and genetics of oilseed plants use for the production of biodesiel. The oppurtunties of this study is unreal. Nearly all the oilseed plantations are in South America, Africa, and Asia. Places I would love to travel to. The major thing holding me back is my family. I would say, I am the runt of the litter. I two sisters who are and expected to go to grad school. I may have gotten through college, but in my family’s eyes that was a miracle. Now it is time for me to get real and earn a real wage. Their point of view is me going to grad school is simply putting off a real job and more debt (even though my graduate studies would be fully funded, unlike my sisters). Thats why when every thing is ready I will give them a few weeks notice that I don’t want a crappy life and bye.

  • Karen says:

    What a great list of things to keep in mind. Lately Dreams, Passion and Deliverables have been on my mind. With a strong desire to leave my ‘normal’ job and pursue one of life, career and wellness coaching, these three things have topped my list. I dream of the day i can quit that ‘normal’ job for one I am passionate about. Deliverables, I thoroughly believe, are what’s going to get me from stuck to moving forward. It’s those deliverables that get me excited to get up an hour early and write!

    I’m booking marking this post for a day when I need this kind of reminder.

  • Ellay says:

    Destinations. Because you need to know where are you going, whether it’s a real destination or a representative one. (If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.)…..i like this one alot…and the one about Deliverables….and Passion….and Influence…this whole list is magnificent!

  • Today, I’m thinking about how my to-do list keeps growing, but for once, it’s not filled with stuff I have to do or should do but with stuff that I “want to” do and am “excited to” do. It’s such a wonderful feeling.

    I’ve been focused on passion a lot lately. In fact, I’ve written several posts about various passion projects I’m working on. I know I’ve mentioned here before that I quit my MBA program, and it has definitely been the right decision. It’s allowed me to work on these passion projects, and I never would have had time for them if I were still doing the MBA program. One is organizing a local production of The Vagina Monologues for V-Day and the other is writing a health and wellness column for my local Patch.

    If you haven’t checked it out, it’s Patch.com. It’s a hyper local online news venue. It also encourages people to really get involved in their communities and give back. Plus, they’re still hiring writers for many locations.

  • As always, asking the great timeless questions, Chris. This is a wonderful checklist.
    If we focused even on one item per month in the course of a year, there would be tremendous benefit, I believe.
    Keep on keeping on!

    -Peter

  • Kevin Lucas says:

    Very inspirational post Chris. I especially like the part about influences. I tend to tell people that my personality and characteristics are a mixture of my favorite parts of other people’s personalities I’ve encountered throughout my life.

  • Galen Pearl says:

    Great balance of ideal and practical. Dreams and deliverables. We need both.

  • Sometimes, actually many times, you seem to hit something core and say something about it that is meaningful. This is a topic ripe for cliche and you successful avoid turning in that direction. How do you do that?

  • susan says:

    Well said. Without dreams, we’re really nothing but worker bees going through the motion.

  • monica devine says:

    To Sheila MacKay: I too have been thinking about how to set up a site where people can become an “apprentice” with a mentor. For example, I’d like to learn horsemanship skills by spending a month or two on someone’s ranch learning the ropes, while in exchange, helping out the mentor with ranch duties, or a project, whatever the needs. I would like to see an Apprentice Exchange Program. I live in Alaska, and could have someone who is interested in the history and activities of our area pay a visit and help us out with say, building a deck, while living for free and learning about how we run our fishwheel in the summer, how we brew beer, create art…and nordic ski if you visit in the winter! I also want to pair up with a potter for a month to learn this craft. There are so many possibilities. My husband and I are also into photography, his mostly underwater- diving and mine topside. So many possibilities!

  • Chris says:

    Hey guys, thanks for all the comments and Retweets. I’m on a plane right now (PDX–>DFW) and will post as many comments as I can as soon as I can.

    @Tim,

    As to why I consider legacy the most important… hard to answer in a short reply. Use the search bar and type in “legacy” – I’ve written a number of more detailed posts about the subject.

    @David,

    Not sure – I guess I just get lucky sometimes.

    @Contrarian,

    Good question but I’m not sure I would force-rank the list. I tend to take a more holistic approach.

    Happy Monday, everyone.

  • Sin_Marx says:

    Generally, I am inline with your mode of thinking…however, I kept tripping on these two things:
    1. “If you’re not sure what to live for, try peak moments and big adventures.” See, this supports the notion that ‘peak moments, and big adventures’ are the kind of things to live for… a)hopefully after reading your posts, people will not be in a ‘not sure what to live for’ situation. b) if they are, then go for what was traditionally recommended for patients who need to reboot?
    2.Travel, out-door adventures have always been the ‘exciting’ things are things to live for kind of things in literature, movies, i.e. in tradition. (for instance, people travel all the time to forget/start over/etc. atleast in popular culture)
    For a non-conformity propaganda to be supporting this notion…is I don’t know conceptually confusing for me. I mean seriously, if you coded ‘doing a 9-5 job with perfection, style’ is another one of those Big adventures to follow, then I am sure that notion will stick to

  • Frank Mocerino says:

    Chris-

    For most young people, I think that legacy is the last thing that people generally think about. Thanks for reminding us that this – legacy – is the only thing that goes to be left 1000 years from now.

    Made me think of this quote from Deniro and Stiller:

    Jack Byrnes: Greg, a man reaches a certain age when he realizes what’s truly important. Do you know what that is?

    Greg Focker: Love, friendship… just love, I think.

    Jack Byrnes: His legacy.

    Greg Focker: That, too.

    Jack Byrnes: If your family’s circle joins in my family’s circle, they’ll form a chain. I can’t have a chink in my chain.

  • Azarethroy says:

    I have been thinking about Relationships. Specifically, how to maintain relationships with friends who are far away and when you don’t see them for years. I think I shall write each of them a “gratitude letter” fro xmas…

  • Just linked to you post in a post of mine. Loved your list. I would add “current reality” to the list. I think that in order to think as clearly as possible about your list, we need to be firmly grounded in our current reality. And by this, I don’t mean it has to be a dream killer in anyway. I just thinking facing our current reality squarely and honestly and knowing our dreams creates a great “tension/ gap” that nature (and our own actions) can help us resolve.
    Lisa C.

  • Say Keng LEE says:

    Hi: Greetings from Ho Chi Minh City!

    Thanks for rounding up an excellent phletora of big and small things to think about… also, extending to peak moments and big adventures via links.

    I have recently moved from the concrete jungle of Singapore to live in the vast hinterland of Indochina, especially Vietnam. I am on the beginning stage of my continuing life experiments during my Third Age.

    You have given me other more important stuff to think about as well as to execute.

    Many thanks once again!

  • Jef Menguin says:

    You inspired me to write about my own “think about these things”. Thank you.

  • Huge ditto to David P’s comment. Chris, your ability to zoom in on the core issues in a consistently fresh way is, well, awe-inspiring 🙂

    My favorites on the list: relationships & deliverables.

    As a life-long introvert turned entrepreneur, it’s been hard to put myself “out there” – but every great memory, feel good moment, and yes… opportunity has come from relationships. Thanks for the reminder.

    As for deliverables – there’s just something karmic-ly so right about making sure that whatever you do is worthwhile. And when you are still finding your way, focusing on deliverables is a great way to move forward even if you don’t know exactly where you’re heading!

  • emma says:

    Delicious brevity and clarion truth. Once again, you knocked it out of the park. Thank you, Chris, for sharing so many gems that always seem to land when I’m needing to clear the brain clutter (distractions) and hone in on my passions.

  • Jim Johns says:

    Dreams and Passion! I’m discovering those ‘unattainable’ dreams of my idyllic life may not be so far-fetched.

  • Ben says:

    Pizza.

    I’ve been working so hard lately. I love it. I wake up excited and I go to bed excited. However, I need a quick break from all the good stress, so tonight I’m thinking about pizza. mmmmmmm.

  • Christopher says:

    Dreams…specifically, the “dream day.” One in which you couldn’t imagine doing anything else with your time. I can see it so clearly as if it’s only days away.

  • Martin Pigg says:

    I think there’s one important word that can be added to the list and that’s “Purpose.” I think we all have a purpose for being on this planet and too few of us take the time to really consider our purpose. It might be related to one or two of the words on the list. But I believe it’s a game-changer on the road to Legacy.

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