LeadershipLife Planning

Creating a Life Plan

Creating a life plan

I have met very few people who have a plan for their lives. Most are spectators, watching their lives unfold a day at a time. It leads nowhere good. Usually: disillusionment and discouragement.

That’s why Daniel Harkavy and I co-authored the book Living Forward years ago. It became one of our bestselling books, proving people wanted help with life planning.

I think some part of us knows we need a life plan. We know we don’t drift to destinations we would have chosen. We want to dream big dreams for our lives. More than that, we want to turn them into reality. And we sense a life plan is the way there. The trick is, how do we do it?

Living Forward attempted to answer that question. There’s a lot in that book I still love and believe in. But can I be honest? There are two realities I think we overlooked as we were writing.

The first reality is this: Most people aren’t writers. I am a writer, and even I sometimes found myself intimidated. It’s not that I didn’t believe a life plan was important. It’s that because it was so important, I wanted to “get it right.” But I struggled to know how to generate the best possible ideas or how to find the right words to capture those ideas.

The second reality is this: A lot of people find creating a life plan emotionally difficult. In Living Forward we have people reach into the future and imagine their death. But some people find that hard to do. I don’t blame them.

Still, I remained committed to this idea of life planning. I thought it was important, and I wanted to help people understand how to create a life plan. I just wasn’t entirely satisfied with our solution. Until now.

Our team recently released a life planning product called LifeFocus. This product gamifies life planning to make it simple and even fun. Instead of coming up with all the ideas and words, you can use eleven card decks to find what fits, and tailor as necessary. We’ve also refined the process. Here’s how it works.

Start With Your Heart

The first step of creating a life plan is to consider who you are, at your core. Specifically, you need to know your values and your mission.

Your values are the core ideals you hold that shape your decision-making. We all have values. But we rarely make them explicit. Naming them helps us understand ourselves. And it helps us make decisions more intentionally—living in alignment with who we aspire to be.

We suggest your life plan includes 5–7 values, and our values deck makes it easy to zero in on what matters most to you. Then, you can define what it means to you. Here’s one of mine:

Growth: If I’m to fulfill my God-given potential, I must be constantly growing and learning. With God’s help—and some effort on my part—I can change and figure out almost anything.

I was struck by how identifying my values helped me with the next step: defining my mission. Your mission is what you’re here on this earth to accomplish. It’s made up of three parts.

Your roles are the parts you play in the world. One of my roles is to be a coach. It’s not just a formal position. It’s how I show up in the world. I want people to become all they can be. That desire flows into everything.

Your impact includes the ideals you desire to further. Part of my impact is to help people believe in a bigger, brighter future. That’s part of why we created LifeFocus.

Your activities are how you’ll accomplish what you’re setting out to do. This is about leveraging what you have—whether that’s knowledge, relationships, material resources, skills, or anything else you can think of.

We put these elements together in a template that looks like this: I am a(n) [ROLE(S)]. I exist to [IMPACT(S)]. I do this by [ACTIVITIES]. If coming up with what should populate that mission statement feels overwhelming, don’t worry. We’ve got cards for that.

I won’t post my whole mission statement online, but using this template helped me get razor-focused on what I’m here to do. Between zeroing in on my values and my mission, I have never felt so purposeful. I know who I am and why I’m here. And that shapes how I dream about the future as I continue creating my life plan.

Narrate Your Future

Once you know who you are, you need to define what you want. It’s an essential part of creating a life plan. After all, we’re talking about your life!

It’s essential to think about all nine life domains in order to achieve the Double Win. Those domains include: body, mind, spirit, love, family, community, money, work, and hobbies. What should you put in each of the domains? Well, that’s where the cards come in. They provide prompts that you can write word-for-word in your life plan or tailor to fit your life.

For example, here are a few of the “Love” prompts. “We have worked through significant pain and built a relationship we both love.” That hopefulness matters: the past doesn’t define the future. How about: “Everything is ‘talkaboutable,’ making space for deep and open communication for us both.” Frankly, I want all my close relationships to look like that. Or: “My partner makes me more myself.” Who would I be without Gail?

What about Mind? Your thinking and feeling are crucial to consider in any life plan but often overlooked. Here are a few of those prompts. “My mind is a place of order and peace.”Yes. Or, “I’m a clear thinker who can process information reliably.” That skill is more important than ever in an era of fake news. Or, “I keep a clear head and untroubled heart by constraining my social media and news consumption.” I’ve been reading the news less than ever before, and Gail will tell you it’s done wonders for my thinking and our relationship.

Let’s take one more domain. How about work? “I’m working fewer than ___ hours a week without compromising my results.” I wish I’d had that kind of vision early in my career. For you business owners: “I have hired multiple team members, empowering me to focus on my highest contribution.” I recommend starting with an executive assistant! One card we left out? “I take a sabbatical each year.” I’d write that on one of my blank work cards—and we might add it next time we update the kit.

I think you get the idea. Narrating a powerful vision for each area of your life is crucial to life planning. And with LifeFocus, we’ve made that a little easier. But a vision alone isn’t enough.

Nail Your Why

Just like with goal setting, it’s crucial to connect with your vision logically and emotionally when creating a life plan. Your life plan only works if you’re connected to why it matters. What’s at stake? What do you have to lose? And what will this vision make possible?

One thing I love about this system is the way it all ties together. When you’re thinking about why your imagined future matters, you can turn back to your mission and values. How does your imagined future empower you to live into who you want to become? That’s a crucial question for any life plan.

Chart Your Way

You know what future you want and why. Next up is how you’ll accomplish your life plan. We help you answer this question by focusing on milestones (for one years, three years, and five years) and habits. Both help you begin to make progress toward your imagined future.

The best part? You can turn your milestones and habits into SMARTER goals and immediately start making progress on them with the help of the Full Focus Planner. It all works together: a single cohesive system for moving toward the Double Win.

Excavate who you are. Imagine a future you can’t wait to live. Connect with why that future matters. And then, turn it into actionable objectives you can start walking out tomorrow. When you follow these steps, you can leverage life planning to take your goal achievement further than ever before.

I can imagine no better way to build a brighter future than with LifeFocus. The future is yours. The question is, what will you make of it?

Last modified on March 7th, 2024 at 10:26 am

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