What was the last major milestone experience in your life and when did it happen? A milestone is a significant event that happens to you, or a loved one, which forever changes your view on life, and can even reset your personal priorities. It can be good or bad, inevitable or sudden, but a milestone creates a permanent change in you.
Marrying Lea thirty-four years ago was my most significant milestone event, and it was inevitable. God put us together and we never looked back. Because of the first milestone I was able to have three more; the births of my children. These four events didn’t just change me and my view of life; they made me, because I would have lived an incomplete existence if not for them. There are other milestones of course: I quit smoking at age 21, one of the best decisions I have ever made. When I was 50, I returned to school to obtain an MBA, which has become a path altering event. Of course, when I stopped hiding from God, and let him find me in my early twenties, I crossed a milestone that has had eternal consequences for me and my family.
Our collection of milestones can be imagined as character building blocks, refining and raising the character in a person’s life. Character is forged from fire and steel, like a fine sword, pounded and buffed until it is sharp and bright; and like blessings and pain, fire can warm or burn. Milestones also build memories of the type that bring a smile on a warm summer evening for no apparent reason; laughter when no one is there to hear: they create permanent joy.
So far, my thoughts on these life altering experiences have been focused on the past. Can this be because we do not comprehend the significance of the event until we have had time to reflect? Possibly, but I think we may be limiting our experiences by relegating milestone events to history. Why not plan for a milestone in the future? Certainly achieving my MBA was planned; quitting smoking was a choice – the 7/11 didn’t stop selling cigarettes.
Don’t confuse a milestone with a goal, although a goal is often a step in the achievement of a milestone. Cleaning your garage, losing 10 pounds, and registering for graduate school are goals. Selling your house and moving to Hawaii, or receiving the graduate degree are milestone events. I am planning for several milestones:
- Retirement (from a 60 hour per week job anyway)
- Our first 30 day vacation (because it will take that long to relax),
- Finishing the second book.
We all have others:
- Becoming and staying debt free,
- Seeing your child graduate college (with your help),
- Cholesterol level staying below 150.
Often we hide from planning for the significant times in life because so much can happen to alter our course – life happens. But that shouldn’t mean that we shy away from making our dreams become a reality. There are great and wonderful milestones that we have little control over: when our children marry and when our grandchildren are born. The bad milestone, the death of someone we love usually arrives without wanting or warning. So I suggest we identify, plan for and make happen the significant positive milestones in our future that we can control, rather than letting them occur in random sequence. Take charge of happy times and alter the future for the good!
Get a three year calendar (like comes with a check book), and circle the months when you will make the next few milestones happen. Then commit to it, make a plan and ask your significant other to help keep you on track. Instead of letting a milestone event happen in your future, make it happen.
Don’t just plan a weekend at the coast; create a milestone.