A few weeks ago plans for my whole life were captured on just seven pages. It took me a whole day of inward thinking. A few internal fights separated my most pure honest self from the expectations the world put on my shoulders.
It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. Now, my life plan serves me as a guide, an elaborate mirror.
I like to imagine my future self wiser, healthier, wealthier and happy. The plan serves as a constant reminder that it won’t magically happen. I need to work towards that future now.
In some areas of my life I’m seeing changes happening already. In others I am now able to quickly identify what is working and what is not. Most importantly I can identify the all important “why?” behind both and decide what steps to take next to move forward.
I followed the step-by-step guide in Michael Hyett’s free e-book “Creating Your Personal Life Plan”, and if you’re intrigued I would highly recommend for you to read it.
It splits the process into three distinctive steps:
Step One: Identify the Outcomes
Imagine everyone who is important to you gathered in one place. They came to share how your life has affected and inspired theirs. They came because you have passed away.
There is little that counts once we will depart the face of the Earth. And with memories and inspiration the most powerful things we can leave behind think: How would you like all those people to remember you?
It will differ from group to group, or even person to person, so think about it bit by bit. Starting with your partner, through family members and friends to colleagues and neighbours.
I quickly found that not many (if anyone) will mention things I am doing now day-to-day, like the films I currently work on. But at the same time it’s not hard to imagine my colleagues to remember me as a mentor or efficiency freak. This is how I would like them to remember me:
I want my friends and colleagues to remember me as an integral part of their lives. I want them to remember my kind ear and quiet support. I want them to remember how I inspired them and helped them overcome fears and reach for their dreams.
After writing such paragraphs for others in my life I was surprised as to how timeless the words felt. If I died next week I would like people to remember me that way. Just the same, if I get to live for another eighty odd years.
I also realised that the outcomes do not contain any of my big bucket-list dreams (like having children or renovating a castle), but neither do they exclude them.
Step Two: Set Priorities
While writing the remembrance speeches you’ll start identifying the people and things vital to making those perfect goodbyes a reality. The second step is to prioritise them. In short, it’s about answering the question: What matters most? What is important to you?
Be careful to separate your true priorities form the expectations of your family, friends, teachers or your boss.
In the e-book Michael Hyett makes an excellent argument for Spirituality (God, for me) and Self to come first. He argues that it is not selfish to put oneself first, because once your health or happiness fail due to neglect everything else will soon follow. It makes sense, and failure to recognise that has left me depleted and overwhelmed in the past.
After God and Self, my priorities include: my husband, my parents and in-laws, my dear friends, my colleagues, my finances and… the quest for joy.
Step Three: Create Action Plans
Each of your priorities should receive a detailed health-check. First write down how you envision the future. Feel free to add a supporting image, quote or verse. Then compare this future with the state of your current reality. The more honest and critical you will be at this stage the greater changes and benefits you can get.
Next, jot down a quick list of ideas and genuine commitments that you can implement at this time in your life. Small steps can lead to big changes. The key is to move forward and in the right direction.
At this point your Life Plan will be complete! But it will not be finished…
Step Four: Adjust for Life’s Twists and Turns
Life changes and throws unexpected things our way all the time. That’s why I read and revise my action plans every week. I also plan to re-evaluate the whole life plan with the turn of every season of my life or every four months (whichever comes first). The whole document is just seven pages long, so it should not take a long time.
Besides, most changes will be small. Just a realignment to current circumstances or adjustments based on new knowledge gained.
But there will be times when big changes have to be made. If our family grows, children will be introduced to every part of the life plan. Likewise, if I will be close to any of the ideals I’m sure I will find further goals to pursue.
Do you fall into the trap of spending more time planning out all details of a holiday than you do on planning your life? I know I did just a few weeks ago!