Build a winning tomorrow…

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

How easy it is to get lost fighting the battles from our past days. We can get so wrapped up in what did, or didn’t, happen in our lives. I know that I will find myself replaying a conversation in my mind and thinking of better responses or rethinking my actions in response to a certain situation.

I believe this can be a valuable, and extremely beneficial habit to form. But it has to be done with an eye clearly on the future and how one needs to grow and evolve towards building a better self. Taking the time to reflect and learn is a powerful way to grow forward into the next day.

How do you ensure that you don’t get lost in yesterday, forgetting that the time has passed and it doesn’t define your present day or the tomorrow that is yet to come? I find that taking 15 minutes at the end of each day to answer the following questions in a daily journal helps me process the day, and focus on creating wins.

  • What happened in the past day?
  • What were my biggest wins?
  • What lessons did I learn?
  • What am I thankful for right now?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What did I read or hear?
  • What stood out from what I read or heard?
  • What do I need to do next to move forward on my goals?

I know these are a lot of questions to run through, and I fully admit that I don’t get to do this every single day. However when I skip a day I find the next morning to be a little less focused, a little less intentionally crafted.

Over the years I have played with the order of these questions, and with different questions, and on occasion I will replace one with a different inquiry to address a specific challenge or need in my life. For example, if I am taking time off with the family I will modify “What were my biggest wins” into “What were my biggest wins as a husband, as a father?” The point isn’t to get stuck on the questions themselves but instead to focus on learning from the day and very specifically shaping what you need to do to create wins tomorrow.

As a side note I do believe the order of the questions is very important. That’s why I end with “what did I learn” and “what do I need to do” questions. Those reset my head and help me focus on tomorrow.

To ensure that I follow through on my goals of daily reflection I use the journalling app “Day One.” I love that I can capture my thoughts in a simple to use mechanism that is always with me. I have used a paper journal to do this in the past but I found that it was too easy to forget or that it allowed me to create an excuse to not do the practice. There are tons of digital journals out there, so do whatever works for you. The key is to find a method that enables you to process today with a relentless focus on building a better future.

Be ready and mindful that today will be a ‘yesterday’ very very soon. Take the time at the end of the day to reflect and intentionally build a winning tomorrow. You’ll be glad you did.

Recipe for failure…

“Plan for what is difficult while it is easy. Do what is great while it is small.”

Sun Tzu

Rarely do great works become easier because you put off starting. Rushing to get something done at the last minute isn’t a mark of high efficiency but is instead an indication of poor planning and prioritization.

I used to believe that I did my best work when I was under the gun, under the pressure from needing to hit a deadline. The truth is that I was using that as an excuse for not setting aside the time to tackle the hard work before it became a last minute time crunch.

Doing the hard work is much easier when you plan for it appropriately. Waiting until the last minute isn’t a plan, it is a recipe for failure…

Execution, not perfection…

“A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

General George S. Patton

There is no such thing as a perfect plan. Trying to get it just right and waiting until it is perfect means that nothing will ever get done. I’d much rather have a good plan well executed than to wait another minute to try and get something perfect. It just isn’t going to happen. Seeking perfection is the enemy of execution.

Fear not…

“Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Corrie Ten Boom

Thinking things through is a great skill and one that will pay dividends when things don’t go exactly as you planned (and that will happen to all of us sooner or later). But worrying, obsessing, getting lost in the fear of “what if” or “why me” doesn’t help improve our chances of success.

There is a big difference between preparing and worrying. How we handle this difference makes such an impact on our lives and the lives of those around us. Planning is proactive and positive. Worry is negative and emotionally draining.

There are so many good bible verses on worry but here are two of my absolute favorites that I go to whenever I cross the chasm between planning and worry.

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” Luke 12:25-26

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Planning is an investment…

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

battle black board board game

If you want to be successful in the game of chess you always have to plan ahead and think through your next several moves.  You don’t know how your opponent will react to your plan, nor do you know what moves they planning to make, but to have a chance at winning you can’t simply be reactionary, you must make the effort to plan ahead.

How much of our time do we spend planning versus reacting?  I have found that time invested in planning enables one to both act, and react, with purpose, design and intent.  Effort expended without having first spent time intentionally planning ahead is always reactionary and tactical.

Will plans fail?  Of course they will.  There is no way to anticipate every outcome, see every possibility, know every possible challenge that will rise along the way. However, I believe that the investment of time in planning allows one to simultaneously exist on two planes.  First is the the proactive, what do we want/expect/intend to happen? Second, what will we do and how will we react to the world around us?

Time is the currency of life.  How do you want to spend it?  Will you spend it with intentional purpose to create a desired output, i.e., planning?  Or will you spend it in a tactical way, never in charge of or responsible for how it is used, i.e., reacting?

 

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