Life is about relationships, not accomplishments.
That’s another one of those life changing sentences that I read several years ago that changed me and really helped me get my life in focus. I am about as “Type A” a personality as you can find. I am hard-working. I am driven. I take initiative and I take pride in getting the job done.
But one of the flaws that come with such a personality (one of the FEW flaws let me add) is that I tend to focus more on accomplishments at the expense of relationships. I am not a relational person by nature. But one of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that when you get to the end of your life – see yesterday’s post if you didn’t already – it isn’t about accomplishments. It’s about relationships.
Jesus even said so Himself. He summarized the goal of life as “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and then “love your neighbor as yourself” (see Mark 12:28-31).
That’s it. He didn’t focus on accomplishments. He focused on relationships – your relationship with God and your relationship with others. So with that said, if you want to set meaningful life goals, you must start by looking at your life from the perspective of relationships, not accomplishments.
What does that mean?
For example, assume I am an aspiring filmmaker and my dream is to produce a Hollywood movie. By the same token, I am married and have 3 kids. Assume that I get to the end of my life and I accomplished my goal of producing a Hollywood film. It was a great success. However, in the process of accomplishing that goal, I destroyed my marriage and became estranged from my wife and kids and they all hate my guts.
Is that a success? Would you consider that a successful life? What do you think I’d be saying while I’m on my deathbed in my final moments of life? Do you think I’d be calling to see my name roll on the credits of a movie?
The answer is NO! When people get to their end of their lives, they don’t say “someone bring me my bank account so I can look at it one more time” or “bring me last paystub so I can remember how successful I was.” NO WAY!
What people say at the end is “bring me my wife so I can see her one last time” or “let me talk to my daughter one last time so I can tell her I love her and hear her tell me that she loves me too.”
LIFE IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS, NOT ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
If you agree with that statement, then it’s time to clarify the most important relationships in your life – the ones that will become your definition of success. And then once those relationships are clear, you can begin to set goals based on them and what would make them a success.
We’ll ask ourselves two questions: 1) what are the key relationships in your life? and 2) how do you want to be evaluated or judged by those people?
For me, I came up with 5 key relationships that matter most to me.
1. MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD – I am His child before anything else. That is first and foremost and that relationship will last for all eternity.
2. HUSBAND/FATHER – My wife and my kids are the greatest gifts God has ever given me and I am responsible in front of God for the way I protect them, provide for them, and care for them.
3. FAMILY & FRIENDS – This includes my parents, my siblings, my in-laws, my close friends, etc.
4. LEADER/MANAGER - I divided my “work” functions into two categories. The leader/manager role includes the vision casting, strategic planning, people-managing side of running a church and a school.
5. MINISTER OF GOD – This is the spiritual/pastoral part of the job – in regards to the school, the church and the general ministry God has entrusted to me across the world – with every person that I meet.
That’s it. That is my measure of success. Those 5 “constituents” are the ones that are going to determine whether or not my life was a success or not. Now that I have defined those categories, the next step (which we’ll talk about next week) will be to set goals according to those relationships.
But don’t rush through this first step. Identifying the key constituents in your life is the most important part of the process because you are declaring the finish line of your race.
Discussion: Do you agree with my definition of success? Why or why not?
p.s. If you're serious about living intentionally and planning your life, a great resource is Michael Hyatt's free e-book, Creating a Personal Life Plan. I highly recommend it!