The book Hero on a Mission by Donald Miller provides invaluable insight into the four characters that influence our lives and businesses every day: the hero, villain, victim, and guide. To help us get the most out of life and channel our inner hero on a mission, Miller provides the highly effective “Hero On A Mission Life Planner” as part of the book. This planner is packed full of daily routines to follow to be more effective in life and business.
How do daily routines make you more effective?
We often wake up feeling a little groggy and confused, not 100% sure what is expected of us for the day. At the same time, around 40% of our actions are driven by habits. That means, that if you don’t have a plan in place, you will live your day on autopilot, doing what you’ve always done. A daily routine has the power to create new habits, pluck you out of autopilot and place you on the path toward a life of intention.
By incorporating structure and healthy habits into your day, you are setting yourself up for success. A personalized daily routine will boost productivity and effectiveness. Planning and prioritizing your to-do list will help you focus on what matters most and avoid distractions. A routine can also help you relax and unwind at the end of the day since it provides a sense of stability and structure.
The Hero on a Mission Daily Planner
Before we jump into the contents of the planner, though, let me provide you with a bit of perspective. Although Miller strives to review his daily planner first thing in the morning each day, he also acknowledges that his goal might not always be attainable. Life occasionally has other plans for our early morning hours.
Your daily planner is meant to give you inspiration and direction, not become a source of shame and stress. New habits take time and repetition to acquire. If you want to implement these new morning routines and stick with them, give yourself grace. If you commit to starting your new routine and then get distracted after a couple of days, don’t stress over it. Just start again and keep going.
Here are the activities Miller incorporates into his morning routine to help him live a more fulfilling, effective life.
Activity 1: Read Your Eulogy
The first daily routine to follow is the act of reading your eulogy every morning. Although this may sound strange, or even morbid, the point of writing, and regularly reading, your eulogy is to live with the end in mind. Miller credits this idea to Steven Covey and his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
The reality is, all of our lives will end. However, if we start each day by reminding ourselves of who we want to be and what we want to be known for, we will live more intentionally. Our eulogies serve as a filter to ensure that we prioritize the legacy we want to leave over the little distractions that come our way. This focus will help you make better decisions and provide clarity around your true priorities, while moving you forward toward the life you actually want to live.
This happens because reading your eulogy will create cognitive dissonance in your mind. By reading a story each day that does not match the life you are actually living, your brain feels discomfort and it wants to ease that discomfort by making the stories match. You almost subconsciously begin walking toward the life in your eulogy because your brain is trying to make it all fit together. That in no way means you won’t have to do the work to achieve your goals. It just means that your eulogy is an ever-present filter.
Activity 2: Cast a Vision
The next part of Donald Miller’s daily routine is to read his ten-year, five-year, and one-year plans. Although reading your eulogy is inspirational, it can be easy to view as just a story. Heroes on a mission take those stories and put them into action. So, by setting some baby steps, or smaller goals along the way, you are able to see yourself getting traction in that story.
These three worksheets all have the exact same questions. You are just narrowing the scope of time with each one. It is best to start with the ten-year worksheet and work your way back. The worksheets challenge you to set specific goals, Miller calls these subplots, for your career, physical health, relationships, and spiritual life. You will also select two habits you will try to complete each day and two habits you will try to remove from your life. Spending time on a day to day basis reminding yourself of the healthy habits you want to keep, and those you are better off without, helps you take charge of your own life and make better choices.
As you plan out your long-term and short-term future, you will likely realize that in order to make your desired future a reality, you need to jump in and get started. This sense of urgency helps move you forward and stay focused. The more we train and plan our lives in the directions we want them to go, the more likely they are to follow that path.
Activity 3: Set Goals
This step brings your big dreams even closer to reality. Now, you will take your one-year plan and set, no more than three, specific goals you want to focus on that will lead you toward your goals for the year. This entire process is an exercise in dreaming big and then breaking it down into doable chunks. You outline the goal, the deadline, some milestones, and then get to work.
Miller mentions that this goal planner may be an optional step for you. During his own morning routine, he generally only reviews his goals once a week and instead relies on his long-term planning sheets (the one-year, five-year and ten-year goals) to keep him focused.
One aspect that differentiates Miller’s goal sheet from others are the goal partners. These are not cheerleaders that will encourage you from the sidelines as you go, these are people who are on the same mission, working toward that same goal. Since you are all on similar missions you can support and motivate one another in a much deeper way.
The milestone section helps you break the goal down into even smaller pieces. The daily sacrifices are the actions you do every single day to move the goal forward. If you complete your daily sacrifices, you then get to check a box under the repetition record. Checking a box will give you a small sense of accomplishment. Over time, you will notice that the more boxes you get to check, the more motivated you are to keep going.
Activity 4: Plan Your Day
Last but not least, you will take the time to plan your day. First, you go through your morning routine of reading the documents you’ve created that outline your life. Then, you set three primary tasks.
Miller also mentions primary and secondary tasks in Business Made Simple. Primary tasks are three important tasks you want to accomplish during the day to move your story forward. Although you will choose three, you probably won’t get through all three in one day.
Next, you write down our secondary tasks. Secondary tasks are your average to-do list: the menial, small things that you have to get done at some point but aren’t necessarily connected to your mission. These could be things like cleaning dishes, folding laundry or mopping the floor. You can think of this space as your brain dump. By writing all these tasks down, we reassure our brains that we have not forgotten them, they just aren’t crucially important. You can also put these smaller tasks in order by priority so that you know which one to start with if you do have the time to accomplish them.
Finally, there is a space to write out appointments. Most of us already have our appointments in Outlook or Google Calendar and this step may seem a little redundant. However, by taking the time to write your appointments down each day, you are consciously processing where you have committed to be and when. It helps you enter your day with a sense of direction and clarity instead of constantly feeling like you are forgetting something.
What is Your Mission?
If you go through all of the activities in Miller’s “Hero On A Mission Life Planner”, you will gain clarity and direction about the legacy you’d like to leave and how you want to live your life. This sense of focus will help you accomplish more of what matters most.
If your mission includes building a successful business, we’d love to be your goal partners. We help business owners improve their marketing and grow their businesses every day. Contact us to speak with one of our Certified StoryBrand Guides about how we can make your goals a reality.