Tag Archives: vision

Planning your career, asking your inner grandpa

21 Sep

My wife is considering a career change, and is thus discussing this topic with many important people in her life. The interesting thing about the opinions she receives, is that the advice is usually tightly connected with the personality of the person. People tend to give advice that they would like to hear themselves. The question is; whose perspective to listen, as all of them are correct in some sense… Continue reading


100 questions to guide your life

1 Sep

I periodically feel the need to confirm the direction of my life. Although I usually reserve my Christmas holidays for my personal long- and mid-term planning, in the meantime I also enjoy playing around with exercises on life-planning. While the results are usually in line with my existing plans, sometimes the exercises reveal new perspectives or directions for me to integrate into my way of living.

This time I stole an exercise from Michael Gelb (author of “How to Think Like Leonardo daVinci”), which seems deceivingly simple but actually challenges you effectively. The idea is to write down 100 questions on anything that you find interesting. Continue reading

Starting the year, re-focusing your journey

8 Jan

I love New Year, and the natural check-point it presents in my life. I nowadays always take time during the holidays to reflect the previous year and to plan for the following… thus ensuring an energized and focused start for the year.

To make sure that I look at my life in a holistic way, I have borrowed and modified a framework from Ken Wilber to guide my reflection and planning. I include for example following items into each category:

  • Mind & Spirit, individual-internal: personal learning, language studies
  • Body & Behavior, individual-external: exercise, eating, financial health, trips
  • Relationships, collective-internal: me as husband, son, brother, friend, colleague
  • Systems & Society, collective-external: my work, other ways to influence

When doing my annual planning, I concentrate on 3 steps:

  1. Reflecting positive achievements of the previous year
  2. Setting concrete goals for coming year
  3. Defining detailed strategies and/or everyday habits

The first step is really enjoyable, as I solely concentrate recalling and capturing on my achievements that brought me joy. I don’t want to waste time or energy in dwelling on what I didn’t do, but rather celebrate all the beautiful things that happened in my life in the past 1 year’s time. For example I felt proud about finishing learning 500 kanji (Japanese character) last year.

During the second step I first remind myself of my long term ambitions (my mission, my 20 & 5 year objectives) and refine them if needed. Then I set concrete annual goals in line with the long term objectives. I have noticed that the more concrete my goals are, the easier it is for me to keep the image of the goals in my mind, thus making it easier to focus my everyday actions in achieving them. An example would be my goal of learning 300 more kanji (totalling 800).

The last step is the most important for me, as that ensures the action leading to results. I either build a strategies for reaching my goals, focusing on making the first needed steps clear and easy so I can get started right away. Or alternatively I define a weekly / daily habits which ensure that I take small steps towards my goals constantly and consistently. For example I will spend 30 minutes for my Japanese studies at least 4 mornings in a week, try to read my work mails (that are in Japanese), and do small kanji tests with my wife in the at least 2 evenings per week.

The year has started. What will you achieve this year? How will you continue building your journey?

Becoming real

13 Oct

What does it actually mean to live a life of purpose?

Many times, we are frustrated by things that happen around us – maybe a plan did not work out, people around us don’t react the way we expect them to, all the effort we have invested in reaching a goal – just to find out once we reached it, that the imagined reward of final happiness is not coming.
Why is that?
It might be, that your goal was not real.
When growing up, we were socialized, which means that we learned the “right” way to behave. Do this, don’t do that, sit still at the table etc.
Don’t get me wrong – learning these rules is important to integrate and to become an accepted part of your family, your tribe, your society. The problem is: by the time we have grown up, all we focus on is – “gosh – what am I supposed to do now, what is the “right” way – what do people expect from me?”
Maybe some people – but does not apply to you? Yes it does,
even to you! Most of the time you think about what you think others expect from you. Don’t agree? You always do what you really want to? Wrong! You are just not even conscious about it. Want a proof? Imagine you have to do the following:
– Sing a song while on an elevator with people you dont know.
Sounds easy? Well – try it! And sing loud! Next task:
– Go shopping without a t-shirt – naked belly as you were created.
– Try picking your nose in a crowded restaurant.
If any of these examples sounded like a stupid idea to you:
Why is that? Definitely not because of natural laws. The thought of doing it is uncomfortable because we were taught differently. And that’s ok. I dont want sweaty bellies around me when I take my girlfriend to a restaurant either.
The problem is: We usually do not stop thinking about others’ expectations when we definitely should. When it is about our own future, our own decisions. What should I do after college? Which job should I apply to? Should I ask the girl I like to go out with me? Should I get divorced after 20 years because the love is not there anymore?
The key thought – too often – is: What will the others think?
Why is that? Because it is easy. You need a point of reference for your decisions. So why not take the people around you, the ones you care about and you care for?
After all, you should be able to trust them. Have to make a decision? Allright – base it on what Peter and Susan would think about you when you make your choice.
Nice idea – but it does not work. Why? Because you will never know what they would really think. You can only imagine what they would think. Even if you ask them: They might only tell you what they think you expect them to tell you. Or you are lucky and they tell you their most intimate honest thoughts about it. but even then: they still have to imagine how they would react if you actually really followed through with your decision.
What to do? Find a new point of reference.
Find yourself.
Dive deep into discovering what really matters to you. What is it deep inside you that makes you respect other people? What makes you cry? What makes you deeply moved or laugh with joy? What are your true inner values? Can they act as the anchor of your decisions?
What happened if you evaluated every important decision based on how close it is to what is really important to you?
How real would that feel like?
Would you become an outcast from society? Or would people secretly admire you for standing out from the crowd? Maybe some others would resent you for it. But one thing would be for certain: When standing in front of the mirror, you can look into your own eyes and say: “It was the right decision”. Focussing on your core values can give you that.

Don’t think it will make your life more easy. But you can make it more real.