It was the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, September 6, 2017, when I was awakened from a restless sleep. I had finally turned out the lights and all electronics around 11:00 PM, prepared for a fitful night. Before doing so, I had talked briefly to my daughter Tara, who had said, “You’re going to be all right, Mom. You are going to be terribly inconvenienced, but you are going to be all right. I love you.” After her call, I looked at the picture book of our three granddaughters, Tara’s girls, and made sure I was wearing the “I Love Nana” necklace given to me last Christmas by the oldest granddaughter, 12-year-old Mary Grace, and turned out the light.
My husband, Mike, was already asleep. We were in St. Maarten, about to come face to face with Hurricane Irma, the worst hurricane ever recorded, a Hurricane 5 with almost 200-mile-an-hour winds. When I woke, I knew it was too early to get up, but I also knew I could not go back to sleep. Mike was still asleep. I took my computer into the bathroom and began writing. When I am upset, I write. I also prayed, prayed for the gift of life to be able to see my family once again, prayed that they would not have to lose us this way.
After a horrific few hours, Hurricane Irma passed over and away from St. Maarten, and we and others were left to deal with its aftermath.
My Hurricane Irma experience was my second life-changing event in 2017. The other was a serious car accident that occurred on March 7. Either of these two events could have resulted in my death. There were two other less serious events that occurred in 2017, and although less serious, were still troublesome. Due to all of this, I am more focused than ever before on living intentionally. This life is too precious to waste. And if we are not living intentionally, we are wasting whatever precious time we have to live. A woman in a recent presentation of mine said it best: “Get busy living, or you are busy dying!”
This is the start of a new year … 12 wonderful months ahead of us. How shall we spend our precious time? I have a suggestion ... I recommend that we set three commitments for 2018. The first commitment is a personal commitment, the second is a family commitment, and the third is a business commitment.
What does it take to live intentionally? Since I believe that models can help us remember important points, I have developed a model of intentional living. It is composed of three sets of threes. (I often do things in threes, recognizing that if it worked for the Trinity, why not me?)
The first model is passion, productivity, and prosperity. What are you most passionate about? What gives your life meaning? What do you want your legacy to be? At the beginning of this new year, think seriously about this in your personal life, in your family life, and in your business. (If your business is your family, then you already have two of these three commitments.) The productivity aspect of this model relates to the daily disciplines we need to have and actions we need to take to live our passion. The prosperity part relates to what makes our lives feel profitable, and not just financially. There is a financial component, however, to prosperity. It is hard to live our passion without the necessary financial resources.
The second model that will help us live intentionally is health, happiness, and hope. While we can be happy without good health, most would agree it is easier to be happy with good health. Research tells us that most people are happiest with good relationships and enough financial resources to have and do what is most important to them. And if we lose hope, we cannot do the hard work to live intentionally.
The third model is confidence, competence, and commitment. Living intentionally is hard work, and requires confidence. Believing in ourselves is necessary. It also requires competence, which involves having the knowledge and skills to do what is required. Commitment is also required. Confidence and competence without commitment will not help us push through the barriers and setbacks we will face in living intentionally.
Back to Hurricane Irma. At one point in the days after the hurricane, when we were trying to get back home, I had a lot of time to think. In fact, I think I could have written a book in those days, but I was fairly immobilized. A phrase came into my awareness, and I could not get it out of my mind. That phrase has been repeated many times since. “When I thought I was going to die, I decided to really live.” I am reminded of the song sung by Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying.
I am in a process of discovery of what “really living” means for me at this point in my life. The mystery is not yet fully known; it is unfolding. It has been said that once we know our “Why,” our “What” becomes clear. My “Why” is clear.
But, enough about me. What about you? What is your passion? What can you not do, even if you are not getting paid for it? Are you really living? Are you living intentionally? If not, why not? And when? This new year is upon us, and there is no better time than now!
The rest of the aftermath story is recorded in six blog entries written about our Hurricane Irma in St. Maarten experience, which can be accessed at www.fralixgroup.com. There is also a book about the experience that will be published in 2018.
Speaks, consults, and coaches, inspiring positive change in work, life, and family. She is founder and president of The Fralix Group, Inc., a leadership excellence firm based in Raleigh.