Next Step (review)

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Next Step - Timothy K. LynnNext Step – How to Start Living Intentionally and Discover What God Really Wants for Your Life by Timothy K. Lynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Next Step is a guidebook/workbook designed to help people evaluate their lives and plot a course for the future. In brief chapters businessman Timothy K. Lynn leads readers to first analyze their lives in the areas of time and people. Then he introduces them to what he calls the Four Pillars: Faith, Self, Family and Life’s Work. In a final chapter, “Conversations with God,” he talks about how God is central to the whole process and encourages the participant to converse with Him and journal those interchanges.

After a brief bit of text on each subject, the book has charts, forms and journal pages for the reader to fill in. The “Snapshot of Your Week” form, for example, has the participant noting what activities fill their time for one week, 24/7. Another form guides readers in discovering who the people of influence in their lives are. The chapter “Life’s Work” concludes with a “Lifeline Goal-setting Plan—Seasons of Life” chart, which gathers the observations and conclusions participants have made from previous chapters into one record/activity/goal chart that can be kept through the years—literally the seasons of life.

Next Step is a beautiful publication, but I found it a bit thin on content. About seventy of the book’s 128 pages are blank journal pages or duplicates of charts and forms introduced in the various chapters.

The charts and forms are excellent, however, in the way they are designed to give the participant a snapshot of his or her use of time, people of influence, core beliefs, goals, and dreams.

More examples of what the author expected as responses in some of the areas would have been helpful (like he did give for the “Lifeline Goal-setting Plan—Seasons of Life” chart, p. 62). Though the journal pages, with their question prompts are self-explanatory, I was never sure what process he expected the reader to go through to fill out the numerous “Conversations with God” sections. His instructions read:

“What’s God saying to you? Use this section as a notebook to make a complete record of your conversations with God.”

Does he expect the reader to sit quietly and listen for an audible voice, or a voice in one’s head, or God’s instructions from Scripture passages? The closest I came to finding help in this area was in the chapter “Faith” where he seems to presume that his readers will have a prior knowledge of scripture and a conscience trained by it:

“God has spoken to us and asked us to follow His word, but at times we need to simplify things and get to the true meaning of what is being asked of us. …This is not as hard as we make it out to be. It just has to occur one thought—indeed one step—at a time, because our actions help us to differentiate good from bad. At the very moment we do something bad, we move away from God’s truth. Most times we intrinsically know this in our hearts” – p. 33.

More specific instructions on how one converses with God would have been helpful. Without them, I felt this part of the program could become an exercise in whatever—listening to oneself, visualization, even opening oneself up to spiritual error, as the participant is never instructed to check what he or she hears against the clear communication God has given us about His will in the Bible.

Altogether, however, this is a valuable and concise program designed to give participants information about their individual lives and the desire and impetus to make God-centered changes and improvements, no matter what their age.

I received Next Step as a gift from publicist Maryglenn McCombs for the purpose of writing a review.

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Reimagine Your Retirement (review)

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Reimagine Your Retirement: How to Live Life to Its Fullest and Leave a Lasting LegacyReimagine Your Retirement: How to Live Life to Its Fullest and Leave a Lasting Legacy by Joyce y Li

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How do you view your retirement? As a time of relaxation and indulgence? As a dreaded time of uselessness and idleness? Or as an opportunity to rediscover your passions and live them out in the years you have left?

In Reimagine Your Retirement: How to Live Life to its Fullest and Leave a Lasting Legacy, author Joyce Y. Li challenges new and soon-to-be retiring members of the baby boomer generation to tackle this phase of life with reflection and intention.

Parts One and Two of the book (“Recognize the Many Possibilities” and “Living Your Best”) provide a background to help readers consider what retirement means in North American culture, how the process of aging impacts one’s latter years, and why it’s important to approach this time with a plan.

Part Three (“Discovering Yourself”) discusses the Bible’s view of life in general and old age in particular. It includes numerous self-tests designed to help readers discover their gifts, strengths, and interests with a view to setting a course and defining goals that will give meaning and purpose to retirement years.

Parts Four and Five (“Vision and Calling” and “Put Legs to Your Plan”) lay out an action plan that challenges readers to visualize the future they want, put it into words as a mission statement, and live it out.

Li’s experience as an event planner comes through in this logically organized how-to book. She bases her findings not only on her own experience but also on the expertise of others and includes many studies and research results. Real life examples add interest and show us that retirement can be the exciting, meaningful climax of a well-lived life. Her Christian outlook focuses the reader’s attention on what will matter for eternity and is buttressed by many Bible verses and motivational quotes.

Though I read the book quickly, it contains much that invites rereading and further thought. Readers who answer all the questionnaires and complete all the analyses will come away with invaluable self-knowledge and a blueprint for going forward, designed to give direction and focus to the remaining years of life. Li’s methods will be especially attractive to the retiree who has a good amount of health, drive, and energy.

Reimagining Your Retirement would be a great read for people preparing for, or in the early stages of retirement. I can also see younger folks benefiting from its wisdom and practical advice. All in all it’s a powerful and convincing debut work authored by someone I’m sure we will hear from again.

Book trailer for Reimagine Your Retirement

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20,000 Days and Counting – Robert D. Smith (review)

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20,000 Days and Counting by Robert D. SmithAround the time Robert D. Smith had lived his 20,000th day, he took two of the next 20,000 (or however many he has left) to plan how he would spend the rest of his life. In his book 20,000 Days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Right Now, he divulges what he did during his two-day retreat, and explains the philosophy on which he bases his life—a philosophy he sums up in statements like:

“There is no thought that will purge your priorities of worthless and worldly tastes like that of your impending death. Ponder the kind of life you would like to look back on when you come to die… “

and

“The best preparation for living is to be prepared to die at any time … imminent death inspires clarity of purpose, a rearranging of what really matters” – Robert D. Smith, 20,000 Days and Counting, Kindle Locations 554 and 573.

However, the book is anything but morbid. For this man, who has spent most of his career managing entertainer and author Andy Andrews knows how to show us a good time. The book’s tone and content is upbeat, encouraging, helpful, and practical.

In it he suggests exercises that will help readers discover their life’s purpose and gives them ways to  live responsibly and constructively. Some of his suggestions that resonated with me were:

– You increase motivation by increasing productivity.

– Be open to saying “yes” more than you say “no.”

– Take ownership. “Start thinking I am the problem … when you do that…. Suddenly you have power” (Kindle Location 771).

The book is a fast read and worth every minute spent immersed in it. The few hours it took me to read it are already proving well spent in their impact on my 2013 goals and resolutions. This is a book that will clear your vision and help you live with a “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” mindset (Psalm 90:12—one of numerous Bible verses he quotes; the book is consistent with a Christian perspective). I recommend it!

By the way, how many days have you lived? Want to find out? Visit TheRobertD’s website and plug your dates into the widget there. (And while you’re on the site, you may also want to sign up for his newsletter and get the free e-Book Battle-Tested Branding, another great little resource!)

Book Facts:

Title: 20,000 Days and Counting: The Crash Course for Mastering the Rest of Your Life right Now
Author: Robert D. Smith
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, January 2013,  99 pages-Kindle edition, available in hardcover.
ASIN: B009PN6M3M

I received 20,000 Days and Counting as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.