Why you should make a Life Plan instead.
Think back to the last time you took a big trip. You spent time planning what to do, how to get there, and who will be along for the journey. Most of us have limited vacation time. While you may want to travel the world, you narrow your trip to just a few places you can see during the time you have.
Now stop for a minute and think. Have you ever applied this planning to your life?
I remember meeting with a school counsellor in both high school and college to discuss my career path, but let’s be honest while you think you know everything at 18 years old it’s a far cry from reality.
If I could turn back time, I would spend time writing (or refining) a Life Plan at the start of each year instead of a New Year’s resolution I will toss out before February.
It’s a concept I discovered thanks to the brilliant Michael Hyatt. A life plan starts with the end in mind. You think about how you would like your life to be remembered.
Morbid? Yes, but it’s something that resonated because I just lost my mom six months ago.
Mom meant the world to me, but I was blown away by the number of other lives she had touched. There was standing room only at her Celebration of Life. A true testament that she knew how to live.
A life well-lived is raw and real. R.A.W. is also an acronym to walk you through the process of creating a life plan.
Roles The first step is to define the roles you play in life. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Keep the list of roles to less than 10. You don’t want to get frustrated, trying to be too many things to too many people.
Don’t forget roles that may be important, but you have not yet begun. If you want to be a mom one day, put it on the list.
Next, sort this list in order of importance. Sorting will help you prioritize when there’s a conflict. For example, my list of work tasks is never-ending, but each night I choose to close it down at the same time each day because the time spent with my family is a higher priority.
Areas The next step is to choose your goals for each area in life. When your loved ones grab the mic to speak at your funeral, what do you want them to say? (How’s that for a heart-wrenching reality). The truth is you have a chance to shape those words today by creating memories.
Here are a few lines from the eulogy I gave for my mom:
“Mom would never miss a chance to soak in the moment. She would get completely absorbed into whatever she was doing. Shopping at Antique Trove, playing with her grandchildren, talking to me on the phone, or traveling the world with Dad. She knew what she loved and would always make time for her passions. She was the involved mom and grandma that never wanted to miss a soccer game, dance performance, or chance to hang out with her daughter.”
I’m sure my mom never wrote out a life plan, but if she did, I know she would want for me to see her as a passionate parent and grandparent who always made time for her family.
How do you want to be remembered? Do you have bucket list goals for your career or marriage? Pick up a pen and follow along with the next step.
Write it down. For each role, you will note where you want to be. Think of creating a loop — Asess where you are now in each role and what you need to do to reach your goal.
For example, as a spouse, you may want to be loving, caring, and supportive in the good times, as well as the bad. Fantastic, now write a few bullet points on how you are going to make this happen (taking into account where you are with this relationship today).
Your life plan is a living document that will grow and change over time. Like I said before, the 18-year-old me had different dreams and goals than the current version.
Keep it short but specific (1–2 pages is best). You will need to refer back to this document a few times a year. Don’t make it a chore you dread.
Life will change you and make sure your life plan reflects those changes.
Going back to the vacation planning analogy, think of this as your itinerary for life. You want to be the captain of your ship. Don’t let life drift you into unfamiliar waters you’ve never wanted to visit.
Of course, life will throw you curveballs. Those times when bad things happen on vacations always make for the best stories. The life plan will be there to pull you back on course after you’ve weathered the storm.
You don't have to chose between your personal and professional life. Here's my secret weapon for getting the family chaos to calm.