You wouldn't start a journey without having a destination in mind. Would you? Even if it's a place you've never been before you are likely to have obtained vital information including landmarks that will let you know you're approaching your destination. Better still you might use Google maps or some other navigation equipment to help you stay on course. In the same vein you wouldn't start a building project without a building plan. Even for a game, you would require a game plan.
It's interesting how we naturally understand the need for a well thought out and carefully executed plan when attempting projects in various life domains but we don't seem to place equal importance on creating an overarching plan for life itself. My first introduction to the idea of deliberately planning one's life came from Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich where I first learnt the power of visualisation as a teenager.
Then I had the good fortune of laying my hands on Today Matters (also published as Make Today Count) where John C. Maxwell expounds on the idea that success is the cumulative result of daily decisions and daily disciplines. Andrew Horder and Sam Adeyemi further expanded my mental horizon with the concept of creating my ideal day.
I learnt that if I could have a clear picture of what an ideal day would look like for me and deliberately set out to create that picture every day, then I can take the guesswork out and make success predictable. However, the puzzle wasn't complete for me until I had read Michael Hyatt's eBook, Creating Your Personal Life Plan which eventually morphed into Living Forward, a book he co-authored with Daniel Harkavy.
The idea of creating a personal life plan is simple and powerful. You can get started by visualising the end of your life and asking yourself a few questions. How would you like to be remembered when you are gone? What would you like your obituary to read like? What legacies do you want to leave behind? Who are the people that will miss you most? What will you regret doing or not doing?
Most people don't like to think or even talk about death but it's a certain end for us all. Rather than avoid a discussion around it, we should rather seize the opportunity we have been given to design our lives and plan our exit. This simple exercise took on a new meaning for me as I contemplated the life of my dad who passed on few weeks before his sixtieth birthday.
I remember us wishing he would turn down a long awaited and well deserved advancement opportunity that came in his latter days since we saw that his health was failing. But our desire did not align with his picture of an ideal life. He had set definite milestones for himself and he would keep steering towards them with all the strength and resources available to him until he drew his last breath.A personal life plan can help you articulate your life's vision, clarify your priorities, paint a picture of your desired end and beat out a path to get you there. Click To Tweet
Since we know that we'll exit this planet someday, doesn't it make sense to deliberately think about how to make our departure a celebration of life indeed instead of a mere funeral? Shouldn't we give careful thought to our legacy and the memories we want to leave behind? This is where a life plan comes in. A life plan is a personal document where you articulate your life's vision, clarify your priorities, paint a picture of your desired end and identify the actions, decisions, habits/disciplines that will get you there.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Create a picture of your envisioned future
Think about the various components of your life -- e.g. health, relationships, finances, career, family, ministry, community -- and write down your desired outcomes for each of them. Arrange these components in their order of importance. You will find this helpful when you need to make some hard decisions as you most likely will at various junctures in life.
2. Determine your present state
How does your present situation compare to your desired outcome? How close are you to your intended destination or how far are you from it? For example, if your desired outcome in your finances includes being able to procure all that you need while also reaching out to others without owing anyone, what does that mean for you and how closely does your current situation reflect it? Document your findings.See what we can learn from @MichaelHyatt @Sam_Adeyemi and @Joyful_Genius about taking the guess work out of life and making success predictable. Click To Tweet
3. Identify required commitments, actions, decisions and disciplines
What do you need to do to move from where you are to where you want to be? What are the steps that you can start taking right now? What habits do you need to develop? The key here is to be very honest with yourself and very specific. For example, a commitment like "I will take my spiritual life more seriously" is no commitment at all. It is too vague. Do you want to pray or meditate for one hour every day? Do you want to be actively engaged with a faith community? Let your commitments be very clear, practical and specific.
4. Review your plan
You are likely to come up with a few drafts before arriving at your working document. Don't be too rigid about it. This is your personal life plan. Feel free to make any adjustments until it becomes practical and workable for you. Once you have something you can work it, start using it to guide your actions and decisions. Then set aside some time to review it regularly. A weekly review is a good idea, preferably on a Friday or a Sunday but whatever works for you is fine.
5. Keep a journal
Apart from creating a sort of log book for your life's journey, keeping a journal helps to clarify your thoughts, make better decisions and measure your progress. That way you can see where you're growing and where you need to exert more effort.Have you ever considered creating a life plan? Check out five simple tips to get you started. Click To Tweet
As you have probably imagined, there is more to be said about the process and benefits of creating a personal life plan than can be covered in this post. My goal is to get you thinking about it and give you what you need to take the first steps. Now, go create your life plan and share this post with someone else, maybe a friend who can hold you accountable.
Question: How is the process of creating or reviewing a life plan changing you? Share with us in the comments.