Simply stated, the more focused we are, the more efficient we can be. This applies to both our work lives and our personal lives. Maintaining focus is a challenge for many of us, but one that can easily be mitigated with a written plan, one I term “a Life Plan.”
Writing and Maintaining Your Life Plan
Generally, we spend more time planning our vacations than we do planning our lives. Focus in life and business requires a plan. Author Tim Hansel said, “A goal not written down is a dream.” As we write business plans for our business, we must write one for our lives. Once we have completed it, it serves as a road map to focus us on the people, hobbies, and tasks that are the most important to our lives and our careers.
Retired Americans have said that the three biggest regrets in life are:
- They didn’t figure out what their purpose in life was until it was too late.
- They didn’t take enough risks.
- They didn’t take enough time to reflect.
We don’t want to express the same regrets when we are too old to make the changes that enable us to live the amazing life we desire.
Life planning is taking time to reflect on the past, the present, and the future so one can avoid the regret of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow.
What is Life Planning?
The life plan enables us to achieve focus and purpose in our business and our life. It is a private written document that serves as a path to what we want our lives to be. The life plan assesses where we are in the key areas of our life and helps discover purpose in each of these areas while mapping out a vision for what our life will look like in 1, 5, 10, & 20 years. It also serves as a series of action plans for us to follow in order to line up an extraordinary life and a life lived with purpose.
Life planning is a written exercise that is performed in order to assess where we are in life today. During its writing, certain questions are asked. For example, who do you want to be remembered by? Or, what will they remember about you?
Dr. Steven Covey wrote, “Begin with the end in mind.” The end in our lives will be our death. One of the tools we can include in our life plan is a eulogy.
“Life planning is a written exercise that is performed in order to assess where we are in life today. During its writing, certain questions are asked. For example, who do you want to be remembered by?
Or, what will they remember about you?”
Additionally, life planning is an awareness of what’s important to us (spouse, significant other, children, friends, career, family, vacation, charity, health, finance, self development, God, your dream). During sessions:
- Each attendee will honestly assess in writing each area or “account” of the most important areas of their life
- They then describe in writing where we want each one of those accounts to be in one year, five years, ten years and twenty years. Another words, a vision for how each account can be “perfect.”
- They will then define their purpose in each identified account by creating one sentence that would clearly define the end result they are searching for from each instance.
- Then, they will write an action plan or action plans for improving each account so they become what they want them to be. They will write about what they are going to do to make the changes occur. Finally, they will also commit to reasonable time frames for completing each action plan.
- In the end, actions will change as they keep track of their success and live the journey.
Indeed, each day we have the opportunity to make it a success. What is success? Are we successful today? If not, when will we be and how will we know if we are?
John Maxwell does an outstanding job of bringing this point to life in his book, The Success Journey. He says, “Success is not a final arriving place, it is a journey that is lived each day and every day.“
The life plan should be written in a place of peace without distractions from the outside world. The beach, the mountains, a lake, your backyard or a park are some venues that come to mind. This is a time to leave cell phones and Blackberries behind. Life planning is a time for reflection and planning. The work will still be there when we have completed our life plan. Take one step back to take two steps forward.
In my Life Planning sessions the attendees are given some materials and correspondence via email in advance of our life planning day so they are properly prepared for the event. In addition, I provide a life planning template and specific instructions on how to create a life plan so creating/writing it can be completed in one day.
I have seen life planning change and improve many people’s lives. It’s hard work and requires that we are honest with ourselves as we take the time to invest into this process. But all change comes through the truth and the more we are willing to truthfully assess the important areas of our lives, the more change we can create, and the more extraordinary our lives can become.