At the Halftime Institute we care more about how you’re doing 30 years from now, than 30 months from now.
We want more for your impact than just a flash in the pan. Often, a flash in the pan does more harm than good to the people around you, forming dependencies that are unsustainable if life demands that you take a step back.
There’s a big difference between heaving a healthy mid-life transition and finishing well.
A few years back, we were prepping for a conference around the topic of “finishing your life well” with Jim Collins, author of books like Good to Great. Jim was interested in this topic because many of the top-level leaders he had studied in his early work had not finished well when they left corporate America.
Personally, after helping people with life transition for the past 15-20 years, I have made it a practice to study the people I coach. I recently went back and looked at all my files and asked the question, “Who is finishing well?” and “Who is not finishing well?” What made the difference?
Early in a coaching relationship, I ask my clients to write down what they really want, if their life turns out perfectly. So, rather than this being a subjective assessment, I use their own metrics to assess how they are doing now. Over the years, I have been surprised by my learnings.
In fact, two things that I thought would be critical factors to finishing well had little impact: money and talent. It turns out that if you have more money or more talent you are no more likely to finish well in your second half than those with less.
So, here’s a brief summary of what I learned from studying the lives of key leaders I have coached. The top five critical elements for finishing well may surprise you, as they surprised me.
- Take the time to get clear on your calling. Your calling is like the keel of a sailboat. When the wind blows over the bow, the keel pushes you forward. When the worst winds of life come, our calling propels us to intentional action instead of aimless drifting. A Chinese pastor once told me, “a calling is a gift to receive not a goal to achieve”. Calling is about surrender and sacrifice. By offering up our habits and heart, we are able to renew our mind and discern God’s good and pleasing purpose for our lives. To really obtain clarity and focus, we must allow God to shape our lifestyle rather than letting our lifestyle dictate our calling.
- Surround yourself with sources of encouragement. If you’re going to finish well, you will go through periods of doubt and discouragement, not seeing fruit from your labor. It is important to learn to capture where you see God at work so that when you get discouraged, you have somewhere to come back to. This could look like keeping a Book of Days, a simple way to record, celebrate, and anticipate the Lord’s faithfulness in using you for His kingdom. Having a personal board of directors is equally essential – when you get to a place where you’re down or under spiritual attack, they will call and encourage you. We need to be surrounded by sources of encouragement to prepare for these times.
- Be adaptable. Finishing well requires us to fight the idea that growing older means becoming “stuck in our ways” or “grumpy old men/women”. I don’t fully understand how people train to become more adaptable, but one element is the underlying belief that “it’s not about me, so therefore, I can flex to serve more effectively.” I’m learning that showing up in each setting and adapting my language for the specific need and opportunity ahead is key. Revisiting my roadmap annually and slowing down to listen for unfiltered feedback from others and the Lord is a great tool to assess where you can increase adaptability.
- Prioritize family. If they were married, leaders finishing well consistently chose to put their spouse’s interests and calling ahead of their own. Hmmm, that’s easy to say but harder to do consistently over time. I am making an attempt at this one, and I encourage my clients to do the same. To know how it is going, I suppose you should ask my wife, Linda, how I’m doing. How would your spouse rate you in this area? Think about it: It makes sense doesn’t it? If your spouse is thriving, and feels cherished by you, your mind and heart will be free to live your calling in a richer more fully present way. On the other hand, I’ve seen lack of attention to family take leaders out of the game early and distract them from finishing well.
- Pay attention to your health. This is not about perfect health or mere appearance. This is about feeling well so that we can bring our best today and tomorrow, recognizing that part of our most thoughtful plans for the next season will require serious thought around health and wellness. You and I can’t control many elements of our health, but there are many that we can. By focusing on sleep, nutrition, exercise, balance, strength and mental equanimity we can avoid several of the factors that take away from the ability to make an eternal impact in our second half.
I want to encourage you to make the most of the new decade.
Now is the time to evaluate where you’re at, determine what finishing well will look like, and create an action plan to get there.
The good news? You don’t have to go it alone.
We have woven teaching, case studies, and best practices in these 5 areas into the Halftime Institute Fellows Program.
I am finding in my own life that having these front and center in my mind allows me to actually see improvements.
My guess is there are valuable lessons here for you as well. At the very least, I hope this removes from our minds the myth that the degree to which we can finish well is somehow linked to our talent and our money.
- Do you know your calling?
- Are you surrounded by sources of encouragement? Do you have a Personal Board of Directors?
- Are you becoming more adaptable, or instead are you becoming set in your ways?
- Have you chosen to put your spouse’s interests ahead of your own?
- Are you paying close attention to your health?
If the answer to any of the above is “no”, a Halftime Certified Coach can help you sort that out. Please let us know how we can serve you in your Halftime journey. If you’re interested in learning more about how our programs can help you finish well, our admissions team would love to speak with you.