January can be a busy month, when we’re recovering from all the holiday travel and expenditure; we’ve paid school fees, gotten back into the grind, and tightened the proverbial belt to survive to the end of the month. But if you haven’t already done so, January is also a good opportunity to take stock; to pause and reflect on where you are in relation to where you are going. And to decide whether you’re moving in the right direction or whether you need to change course. The most important part of that assessment is in your main priorities. I call these the foundational questions.
The good book talks of two men who built houses with similar design, structure, materials and roofing. You couldn’t tell them apart simply by looking. But deep inside where no one could see was a critical difference. One sat on a solid rock foundation while the other was built on sand. The latter owner probably figured he would save lots of money. Even today, foundations typically take up ten to 20 per cent of your building costs! Perhaps he wondered why waste time building something no one would ever see when life is so short and uncertain. And he probably bragged at his housewarming party that his house still looked as just as good as his neighbours! For a while, he truly looked wise. But when the inevitable storm came, his house was completely washed away.
The moral of the story – don’t ignore your foundations. So back to the foundational questions: These are questions concerning the most important aspects of your life. What are the things you want to be remembered for? What are the things you want people to say about you at your funeral? What are the three to five main life objectives that will align all your other goals?
It’s easy to avoid these as too much work and to figure you’ll answer them one day when you have more time. But many today have achieved great wealth only to discover that their marriages and families were casualties along the way. Many have built their businesses and careers only to find they have no real friends to celebrate their success with. Many have climbed up the ladder of success only to discover late in life that it was leaning against the wrong wall. As the good book says, it’s a huge tragedy to gain the whole world and lose your soul!
Foundational questions have to do with the kind of friend, citizen, spouse, or parent that you want to be. They have to do with leaving a positive impact on the lives of those that you share life with and on society in general. They have to do with using your God-given talents and achieving your God-given purpose.
We need to live each year like it’s our last. Answering the foundational questions and aligning your year to them may take time but its well worth it!