When working with a client on personal and professional development goals, I often suggest doing a life plan.
1. Purpose: Identify your purpose or calling.
Describe what gives your life a sense of meaning
and purpose. Imagine you’re approaching the end
of your life, and figure out what you’d tell people about a life well lived.
Your statement should transcend a job. It provides the over-arching umbrella over all that you do personally and professionally.
2. Vision: Establish a vision statement.
Describes your life at various points in the future.
3. Goals: State what it will take to achieve your vision.
Goals are general statements that:
(a) define what you need to accomplish
(b) cover major issues
Your vision and goals may be mid-range (for example, 3–5 years into the future). List all of the realistic ways to achieve your ideal life.
4. Strategies: Identify strategies you must implement to reach each goal.
Your specific approaches will change as you engage in more robust strategic thinking—particularly as you closely examine external and internal environments.
5. Action Plan: Identify strategic action plans or goal objectives.
State the specific activities or objectives you must undertake to effectively implement each strategy or achieve each goal. Use clear language so you can assess whether objectives have been met.
Working with a coach or accountability partner enhances successful goal achievement. With your partner, you can brainstorm ideas, make plans and hold each other accountable. You can anticipate obstacles, and make adjustments. Make sure your partner challenges you to stretch enough so you grow and learn beyond what you would accomplish alone.
6. Document: Compile your purpose, vision, strategies, goals and action plans.
Write them down along with your dreams and action steps, and convert them into graph form so you can track your progress. Share your Life Plan with the important people in your life.
7. Track Progress: Monitor implementation of the plan; update it, as needed.
Regularly reflect on the extent to which goals are being met and whether action plans are being implemented. Use a spreadsheet or graph to monitor your progress, adjust your plan and remain challenged.
Most importantly, you should never give up, even if you run into formidable obstacles. You may have to adjust your plans, but persevere. If you keep working towards your ultimate Life Plan objectives, over time you’ll get there.
Develop your grit – that ability to find what works no matter what. Grit is based on the profound belief that things may be difficult but not impossible. You only have to persist a little longer than most people to become a success. This doesn’t mean you can’t adjust your plans according to reality.
Of course, changing circumstances and desires mean any life plan will need to be amended over time. The goals you have in your 20s are considerably different from those in your 40s — and vastly different from those later in life.
Don’t let life just happen to you. Shape it into your ideal version — and have a nice life!
I’d love to hear if you’ve done your life plan and learn about how it helped you. What’s been your experience writing down and tracking your goals? Please leave a comment.