How to plan your life
Life is uncertain. There will always be unexpected bumps along the way that you couldn’t have possibly anticipated. How do you develop confidence navigating uncharted territory? This is the beauty of creating a life plan: it accommodates life’s unknowns so you’re not unprepared. With a solid strategy for how to make a life plan in place, you’re able to embrace the challenges that can elevate your life if you have the right mindset and preparation. Learning how to create a life plan is much like creating a business map to guide your company’s decisions. Creating a life plan allows you to pursue meaningful goals that align with your ultimate purpose in life.
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Life planning 101
Learning how to make a life plan starts with understanding what life planning is. A pivotal concept is the fact that life planning does not mean creating a rigid to-do list for yourself. Creating a life plan is more akin to creating a massive action plan. You’re acknowledging up front that hurdles will inevitably arise. You’re also allowing room for growth and change, internally (within yourself) and externally (in your life circumstances). Creating a life plan provides a flexible road map for getting from where you are now to where you want to be. You’re creating a strategy to reach your goals and embrace change. Life planning helps you transition from dreaming about what you want in life to making it a reality.
How to make a life plan
Setting goals is a critical component of life planning. But learning how to create a life plan takes you beyond goal-setting. It adds an emotional element to those goals so everything you do is infused with meaning. With life planning, you get to the core of who you are, what you want and how to accomplish it. You’re not just completing a task – you’re behaving in alignment with your passions. Here are the steps for fleshing out your life planning strategy:
Step 1: Ask yourself the right questions
Creating a life plan starts with asking yourself the right questions. Write down your responses and answer honestly.
What results do you want to achieve?
Ask yourself: What final outcomes do I want, and how can I achieve continuous improvement along the way? If your final goal is to build a $10 million business, your goals for continuous improvement might be fine-tuning a sales strategy and building powerful relationships.
What about these goals inspires you?
Everyone wants financial freedom and a healthy workplace environment. Beyond these basics, what truly inspires you? This question gets at what drives you. From here, learning how to make a life plan becomes natural.
What actions will achieve these goals?
Life planning means setting SMART goals that are feasible, measurable and aligned with the broader outcomes you’re seeking. Making a list of practical, actionable steps takes life planning from the abstract to the tangible.
Step 2: Choose your life priorities
When creating a life plan, it can be tempting to try to improve every facet of your life. This is overwhelming and not feasible. To be more effective, concentrate on just two to three priorities. You can always add in more later after you’ve experienced success in these areas. Here are some areas you can concentrate on:
Do you want to learn strategies to stay connected to your partner? Find out how to be more flexible in your relationship? Has your trust been betrayed and you want to develop a plan to learn how to believe in love again? Having a strong, loving relationship is key to your happiness and an important part of your life plan.
Are you currently unhappy at work and want to find a new career you’re passionate about? Own a business and need to learn how to be a disruptor and ensure the longevity of your organization? Most people spend more than half their lives at work, so creating a life plan to spend your time doing something you love that leads to success and fulfillment is paramount.
As Tony often says, the secret to living is giving. When learning how to plan your life, incorporating ways to get involved in the community is a good way to increase your overall well-being. Donating money or resources, joining organizations or volunteering are all good ways to give back.
Health and fitness
If you’re not happy with the way you look or feel day-to-day, creating a life plan that doesn’t include a health and fitness component will never lead to true happiness. If you’re overweight, have no energy or just need to improve your overall health and fitness, this is one area to concentrate on. Consider adopting a sustainable health diet, join fitness classes or work with a health coach to design a plan that works for you.
Step 3: Create life planning maps for growth, change and crisis
Now that you understand what’s driving your life planning goals, you’re ready to expand your strategy so it adapts to any circumstance you might encounter. Create a life planning map for each of the following:
Personal growth is one of the greatest accomplishments possible. So incorporate it into your life planning strategy! Rather than aiming for general, unspecified growth, write down specific areas of personal growth, like better time management, greater empathy or effective communication.
Change is inevitable. If you’re adaptable, you’re able to roll with the punches. As you learn how to make a life plan, consider how to make your plan malleable so it accomplishes what you want, regardless of changing circumstances.
In times of crisis, life planning is a powerful comfort. Learning how to plan your life empowers you to work through hard times without losing sight of your original goals. Having a plan A, B, C and D ensures that you’re never left without a strategy for survival and, ultimately, success.
Step 4: Create an accountability plan
Once you’ve learned how to make a life plan and put some strategies in place, you need to find out what’s working and what’s not. This involves evaluating your successes and adjusting your plan along the way to increase its effectiveness.
Have an accountability partner
If you’re having trouble staying on track, consider getting an accountability partner. This can come in the form of a friend or family member or a Results Coach that will assist with creating a life plan and sticking to it. An accountability partner provides support in addition to accountability, both of which add to sustaining positive change.
Measure your progress
If you created SMART goals, they will be measurable. Take time throughout your journey to stop and see how you’re doing. Keep in mind that plateaus and setbacks are inevitable. As long as you are making progress, consider your plan a success.
Celebrate little successes
Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you accomplish large goals to reward yourself. When you celebrate little successes – such as losing five pounds or finding the right non-profit to contribute to – you increase your enjoyment of the process and, in turn, your chances of success.
Change where necessary
Creating a life plan is not foolproof and you will experience failures. When you discover some part of your plan isn’t working, evaluate why. Was the goal not in line with your values? Did you not have the right tools in place? Were you not flexible enough to turn obstacles into opportunities? Once you identify what went wrong, you can make effective changes.