Living Forward is Triage for Life

Living Forward

Living Forward: a Book Review

God has a sense of humor. First, he gives me a word for the year with a double meaning—constrain—which means to both compel and to hold back. Next, he puts three books in my life (books I received for free with the understanding that I would leave an honest review) and I feel compelled to read all three of them carefully because I want to hold up my end of the bargain.

All of the books belong to the self-help category—not a genre I read on a regular basis. Ok, who am I kidding? I haven’t read a self-help book for a good six or seven years.

I just finished the third book and I feel as if I stand at the base of Everest—but due to the first two books, at least I have the proper equipment. Living Forward, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, presents the rationale and procedure for creating a Life Plan. A Life Plan is a statement of goals and priorities based on writing one’s eulogy.  Yep.  It sounds a little macabre, but the authors point out that if we don’t think about how we want people to remember us, we won’t know how to allot our time and efforts in our life accounts (and who wants to come up short of funds when the bills come due?).

As my fiftieth birthday approaches, I have come to realize that although I have a lot of ideas, wishes, and unspoken desires, I haven’t spent a lot of time actually accomplishing or fulfilling many of them. Nor have I spent much time thinking through the WHY I do what I do.

For the last 28 years or so, motherhood, marriage and work have consumed my time (all worthy pursuits). Throw in a couple periods of intensive caregiving for family members who experienced cancer and mental illness, and it’s easy to see how my boat of life has started to drift with the tide. I haven’t exactly sat in the boat with my hands folded watching the scenery bop by. But I have spent a lot of time bailing like crazy and when the storms stopped, blinking in wonder at where I ended up.

Although I excel at micro planning, planning long-term and actually thinking about leaving a legacy has never occurred to me. I’ve often mistakenly thought that ‘legacy’ simply meant a pile of money one leaves one’s children or some charities—as a teacher, I figured I’d never have much of a legacy to leave. Now I understand that ‘legacy’ has a broader definition—how I spend my time will leave a legacy of relationships and accomplishments that will help others.

I find it no problem to plan logistics, transportation, classes and activities for 90 students to spend a week camping in the Colorado Rockies, but I rarely plan for more than six months away and most of my unspoken goals remain daydreams floating in the ether of my mind. It’s time to stop the drift.

#Livingforward is like triage for life. Click To Tweet

Hyatt and Harkavy have convinced me that I need to create a life plan and look at my life accounts and prepare purpose statements for them. I need to schedule a day away to put my Life Plan on paper. So, in the next week, I will commit to doing the pre-planning and organizing.

Life is precious, and I don’t want to keep wasting time wondering what in the world I’m doing. I feel constrained to continue with the trajectory God has put me on (but I could definitely use some prayers, because like I said earlier, I feel like I’m standing at the base of Everest and I feel constrained to climb it—no matter how difficult it might prove).

What about you?  Does the term ‘Life Plan’ make your insides quiver like tapioca pudding during an earthquake?

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Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • How fascinating that your 2016 word has a double meaning, Anita! Wow … that would sure give you cause for pause. Thanks for the book review! I’m heading over to my library site to put my name on the list.
    Linda Stoll recently posted…In Which He Refused to Wear His Wedding Ring ~ and the $40 Giveaway!My Profile

  • I’ve dealt with triage…the kind where you don’t leave those who are too badly wounded behind to be captured by those who would…well. You just don’t leave them. Mercy can be severe.

    I’ll have to be contrarian. Life is not about dreams or plans, or, heaven forbid, a Life Plan.

    Life is about responsibility, not rights. It’s about embracing the broken where we find them. It’s about protecting the weak, and giving shelter to the helpless. It’s about putting ourselves into the line of fire, and I mean that quite literally, to shield the innocent.

    When I go to God, I will look Him in the eye, and I will not fall on my face, kneel, or even nod. I have fought like a man possessed for the least of His, and it will be for Him, and His angels, to step aside as I make my way to the Celestial Bar.

    And then, if He allows it, I will draw more ammo, and return to the sound of the guns.

    So maybe I do have a Life Plan. Die In The Fight.

    Ducemus – “We Lead”
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your Dying Spouse 129 – The Morning Of The WorldMy Profile

    • It’s ok to be contrarian, Andrew ;). I think we actually believe the same thing–for you, training for the military gave you the skills, concentration and focus that you needed to carry out the urge that compels you–to protect and to love and to serve others. For me, a Life Plan will serve as my boot camp to figure out what compels me and how to focus my energies in what’s most important and say no to what is not important. From what I’ve heard, boot camp strips away the non-essentials and forces the soldier to learn behaviors that will carry him or her through the most difficult situations. It provides clarity (and some recruits realize that this is not for them). Those of us not in the military lack that intense training and focusing on our mission–thus the need for a Life Plan :).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…February Taught Me My Need for a PlanMy Profile

  • I always find it interesting how certain milestone birthdays cause us to reflect on our time here on earth. May we live with purpose on purpose all of our days. Wonderful review, Anita.

  • This sounds like a great book — and your review is so helpful because you’ve shared your important “take away”! Thank you.
    Michele Morin recently posted…Habits of GraceMy Profile

  • I just started reading Living Forward! You post makes me want to dive in 🙂 I also followed a link regarding caring for loved ones with mental illness. My husband has bipolar 2 disorder so we have a little something in common. Good to see someone else getting the word out about mental illness. Thank you for hosting the link up and blessings on your writing!


  • I think I’m better at long-term planning than the kind of planning you excel at–daily schedules for other people freak me out (i.e. planning the Colorado trip would daunt me). I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book so I can start making my life plan. It makes a lot of sense to me, to make one. 🙂

    • Maybe you could plan my life and I could plan your quarter ;). Just kidding. We can support each other and help each other learn. I took your advice on the planner, and I’m getting a lot more done each day than I used to!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Why I Quit the News Cold TurkeyMy Profile

  • Sounds like a good book. I love when God works things together to point us in the right direction, even if it seems a bit daunting and scary.
    I also just have to pick up on your sentence “as a teacher, I figured I’d never have much of a legacy to leave.” Maybe not in terms of money but I’m sure you’re leaving a really important legacy in many lives through your work.
    Praying for you as you begin to climb your Everest.
    Carly recently posted…The Power Of StoryMy Profile

  • Very interesting theme for Michael Hyatt’s new book. A life plan based on your eulogy-hmmmm! But how often do we live in the moment or think that we are already on track to living a good life. We don’t take time for that deep introspection to really discover the kind of life God would like us to lead. Will you possibly share your life plan as you continue to pursue and discover it? I would be interested. I’m not sure I would be able to do this successfully myself.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…My Passage Through GraceMy Profile

    • Ohh, I’ve never thought of sharing my life plan! But I just might, if it will help others! One key thing he recommends is that a person read their life plan EVERY day for 90 days. This probably has a lot to do with how affective it is! They also have downloadable planning guides and stuff that help walk you through the book :).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…Swear Words Can Ruin a Good BookMy Profile

  • God does have a sense of humor, Anita! Three self help books when you hadn’t read one in so many years. You made me smile, friend. Living Forward sounds good. Years ago, I used a little e-book of Michael Hyatt’s called Life Plan maybe? Although I don’t do things like think 5 years, 10 years ahead, I do plan each year taking into account different life roles. This year I’m trying to do a better job at keeping that in front of me to refer to. Praying for you now, Anita, that God will lead you as you take that day you mention.

  • I’m not 100% sure how I feel about a life plan, but your post and that word does get me thinking. There are indeed things that I want to accomplish in my life time.
    Tara recently posted…Prayers Rise Up Like IncenseMy Profile

  • Sounds like a helpful book! Thanks for your review and for sharing at the LMM Link-up!
    Beth @ Pages and Margins recently posted…7 Compelling Graphic MemoirsMy Profile

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