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:
"If you don't have a plan, you become part of somebody else's." I certainly don't want to fall into this trap. I would rather design my life and risk failure.
Tomorrow is determined by what we do today. This is the concept of choice. Every day, we make small decisions that shape our future. Isn't it better to do that consciously?
The first step is to identify the roles you play (or want to play) in your life. Let go of roles that no longer serve you. When you're ready to let go of a charity that was important to you years ago but no longer serves you, keep chairwoman off the list.
A few prompts to get you started:
If you are having a hard time thinking of the roles you play ask yourself these questions:
Let’s say you spent some time folding laundry yesterday…what the heck role does this play. Well if you’re doing laundry for your household you are investing time as a spouse and parent.
Next, consider the way each group would remember you. Imagine what you want the important people in your life to say about you at your funeral. Get as detailed as you can. I'll give you 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 traveling 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 accounts of your life, coming to big crossroads decisions like the one above will become easy.
At any given time, only focus on six roles. How do you identify your six most important roles? Think like a volleyball coach. In volleyball, there are usually six players on the court at one time. Other players might be on the bench. Those six players hold your attention. Choose the starters, choose those that you want to pour into right now because lives are journeys, ebbs, and flows.
Let's say being an aunt is an important role to you today, but next year you have a baby. In this case, your auntly role takes a back seat and now your role as mother takes the court. Auntie is gonna sit on the bench.
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.
I can't let you leave empty handed. Here's my secret weapon for getting the family chaos to calm.