Gaining Perspective on Life and Career Goals with the 777 Exercise

by Jeremy Tang

“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” – Steve Jobs

As we navigate the complex waters of career and life, it’s crucial to occasionally drop anchor and reflect on our direction. On a recent retreat in New Zealand I came across the ‘777 exercise’, a powerful tool for gaining clarity and perspective. This exercise asks us to envision three scenarios: what we would do if we had only 7 years, 7 months, and finally, 7 weeks to live.

7 Years to Live: The Vision
Imagine you have just 7 years left. It’s a timeframe that’s long enough to accomplish significant goals yet short enough to instill urgency. This perspective forces us to evaluate our long-term aspirations. What career milestones do you want to achieve? What skills would you learn? How would you shape your relationships? This stage is about aligning your daily actions with your deepest values and ambitions.

7 Months to Live: The Focus
Now, compress that timeline to 7 months. The priorities start to shift. It’s no longer about long-term goals but about what truly matters in the here and now. Would you still be doing the same job? Perhaps you’d focus more on relationships, experiences, or personal growth. This stage teaches us about focus – distinguishing between what’s essential and what’s merely noise in our professional and personal lives.

7 Weeks to Live: The Essence
Finally, consider having just 7 weeks. This scenario brings a sharp, immediate focus. It’s about the essence of life. What impact would you want to leave? How would you spend each day? This reflection often reveals our most fundamental values and desires. It’s a stark reminder that time is our most precious resource and that we should spend it wisely and authentically.

Why It Matters
The 777 exercise isn’t just a thought experiment; it’s a tool for profound self-reflection. In our fast-paced world, we can easily get caught up in the day-to-day grind, losing sight of what truly matters. This exercise helps us zoom out to see the bigger picture and then zoom in on what’s truly important.

As professionals, it challenges us to align our careers with our deepest values and to pursue work that is not only fulfilling but also impactful. It reminds us to cherish and nurture the relationships that enrich our lives.

In conclusion, the 777 exercise is a reminder to live deliberately, with purpose and intention. It’s an invitation to constantly reassess our path and make sure it’s one that leads to fulfillment and true success.

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