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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"Living Forward" (Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy)

TITLE: Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want
AUTHOR: Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2016, (208 pages).

The 19th Century Danish philosopher once said: "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." This book is about life planning which is essentially about the why and how of living forward. Written by two experienced lifers who had gone through what it means to work like a dog, to drift along in the busyness of life, and to realize the greater importance of re-aligning oneself according to the compass of life, this book summarizes for us a ten-step process to live a meaningful and intentional life. After several pages of endorsements by many industrial leaders and top professionals, the authors begin the book with J.P. Morgan's wise quip: "The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you're not going to stay where you are." Wise words indeed. This book follows through by moving forward to develop an actual plan for ourselves. Michael Hyatt is former chairman and CEO of Thomas-Nelson publishers. A well-established blogger with a popular website, Hyatt is passionate about personal development, leadership, productivity, platform, and all things publishing. He is also author of Platform and Get Published. His friend Daniel Harkavy is a personal coaching professional who founded Building Champions, where is is CEO and executive coach.

With clear and concise steps, Hyatt and Harkavy first helps us to understand our need, that busyness without purpose is letting our lives drift into insignificance. We can become easily distracted by unimportant things. We become overwhelmed because we are unable to set priorities. We get confused, waste our resources, time, energy, and lose our sense of direction. Our great need is the boldness to recognize our true state and where we are now. Next, we need to determine where we want to go. Then, we make plans to enable it to happen. Ten chapters are written to help us hone these three phases.

  1. Acknowledge the Drift: Why we are not as effective as we ought to be?
  2. Understand the Mission: Asking the three powerful questions about life planning.
  3. Appreciate the Benefits: Learning the six major benefits of life planning.
  4. Design Your Legacy: Begin with the end in mind.
  5. Determine Your Priorities: Use the Life Assessment Profile to determine our passion and progress
  6. Chart the Course: Create an action plan
  7. Dedicate One Day: How to make use of one full day to get the plan in place
  8. Implement Your Plan: Learning three strategies to implement and to keep on track
  9. Keep It Alive: Regular review
  10. Join a Revolution: Empower and teach others to do the same.
Sounds exciting? Wait until you dig into the book. That's where the excitement becomes real. Each chapter comes with lots of practical advice and explanations of what the life planning steps are. There are plenty of examples to illustrate the plan. These should help jumpstart our own plans. Additional resources can be found at LivingForwardBook.com which contains the life assessment profiles; the life plan templates; the ideal week tool; and many more resources. There are several life plan examples to help readers get a better idea of what they can do for themselves. Let me offer three thoughts with regard to this book.

First, this book is best used when the principles are put directly into practice. Mere reading the book is only 10% of the learning. The rest of the 90% must be practice, implementation, and execution. Throughout the book, there are ample reminders and examples to allow readers to jump in and say: "Hey! I can do that too." Written in layperson style, the teachings in this book reflect years of experience by the two authors. One can tell that the two authors are also public speakers and conference leaders.

Second, the ideas in the book are well thought-out and put together in a memorable way. For example, there is the SMART criteria for planning (Specific; Measurable; Actionable; Realistic; and Time-Bound). The authors remind us of the common relationships that we all have. They are also very clear about the benefits of life planning and the dangers of NOT planning at all. The chapter on "Margin" is a very realistic way of implementing a life plan for a modern person caught up with multiple responsibilities and time balancing acts. They help us keep the main thing as the main thing.

Third, this book is essentially about Christian stewardship of our own lives. Sometimes, people may think that a Christian book must be one with lots of Christian content, Bible verses, and theological statements. If these three are the key criteria for a "Christian book," then this book is not that "Christian." The principles in this book is about learning to live well wisely. Wisdom is definitely a key principle in this book, alongside responsible stewardship and future planning.  Whether one is busy or not, whether one is a clergy or not; and whether one is a believer or not, there is definitely something for everyone here.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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