What do you want to be when you grow up? As a kid, you answered that question all the time. And the sweet response of “ballerina” or “astronaut” brought smiles until sometime around puberty.
The sweet girl that aspired to be a ballerina may pursue a career in dance, but what does that mean? Even for a Broadway star, there’s more to life than what happens on stage.
So the question becomes, what do you want out of life? This is a deeper question. The adult version of “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I want to be happy” is a common response. But, what does that mean? What makes you happy?
Life planning is living life by your design. You put in the big rocks of what is important to you before someone else claims your time. 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.
I’m going to give it to you straight. Creating a life plan takes work. The first time I did it the process took me a day and a half. (Don’t worry I have a system that will streamline it for you).
Here’s why it's worth the time invested:
The first step is to identify the important roles you play (or want to play) in life. Quick tip: leave out roles that aren’t serving you. For example, if you are on the board of a charity that was important to you years ago. Keep chairwoman off the list if you’re ready to let it go.
A few prompts to get you started:
Next, think about how you want to be remembered by each group. It’s morbid, but imagine what you want the important people in your life to say about you at your funeral. Get very detailed. Here’s an example from my life plan:
“Jen was a true and loyal friend. She took the time to stay connected. We had the best time chatting on the phone or travelling the world. She was always the first person I would want to talk to when life took an unexpected turn (like that time I had to walk away from my relationship with Dad). She never let her own stuff get in the way of our friendship.”
Third, decide what matters most. It’s time to make a list of your priorities. I know this is hard but you have to put yourself on top of this list. You need to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. This life accounts diagram is a great visual to get started.
After you get real with what’s important to you, it’s time to get honest. Get honest about where you are in each of these areas of your life. This might mean you will have to be vulnerable about how you’re falling short. Celebrate the areas where you’re knocking it out of the park.
Take a look at both your progress and your passion for each area. Ask yourself questions like:
Finally, it’s time to prioritize.
Every few years my husband is given the opportunity to make a change in his job. Often, these are promotions with promises of more money and more travel. I would get frustrated that time and time again he would pass on these opportunities to spend more time at home. Now that I have a better understanding of how to balance these priorities. I feel flattered that he wants to spend more time with me and the kids.
When you take the time to number the most to least important areas of your life, coming to big crossroads decisions like the one above will become easy.
Next time you are at a cocktail party and the conversation gets philosophical, be ready to answer the deep questions about what you want out of life. Take the time to plan your life.
I know what you’re thinking. You don’t have the luxury of taking the time for life planning. Let me leave you with one thought. How much time have you already spent drifting off course?
Your inner ballerina is calling. She wants you to take the stage.
You don't have to chose between your personal and professional life. Here's my secret weapon for getting the family chaos to calm.