If you find yourself feeling lost or stuck, it’s time to engage in some long-term planning. A life plan is a road map for your future. It helps you set goals and take the steps necessary to make them happen. Here are six steps from which you can start:
1. Define your vision
Before you begin to design your life plan, it’s important to define what outcome you want to see. Simply stating “I want to be healthier” or “I want to make more money” isn’t enough. You need to be specific about what type of health and wealth you’re aspiring toward–and how much time and effort are required for each goal.
For example: if one of your fitness goals is losing weight, how much weight do you want to lose? How long does this process take? Will there be any setbacks along the way? If so, when will they occur (and how long will they last)? What will happen once those setbacks have ended? These are all questions you should ask yourself before starting on any solution-based endeavor, especially when dealing with something as complicated as changing our bodies and mindsets over time!
2. Identify your values
Values are the things you care about most, and they guide your decisions. It’s one of the first steps in figuring out what’s important to you, and it might seem like a pretty easy question. But there are many different ways to answer this question, and some people have a hard time finding their own answers.
If you’re struggling to figure it out, here are some questions that can help:
- What do I dream of doing?
- What makes me feel alive?
- What kind of person do I want to be?
- Which decisions would make me proud?
3. Take stock of the habits you want to adopt
Do you know it takes an average of 21 days to form a habit if you do it every day? Habits are powerful. Once a habit is established, it’s hard to change.
For long-lasting results, start with creating mini-habits that get you to your destination. Here are some suggestions:
- Start your day off to a good start. Think of something you’re thankful for when you wake up. By giving thanks first thing in the morning, you put your mind in a good place before you even get out of bed.
- Listen to a podcast while you eat breakfast, read a chapter from a book that inspires you, play music that makes your heart soar, or do some yoga or meditation. Do whatever you need to do to start the day feeling positive and motivated.
- Look after yourself. If you don’t feel well, it’s hard to be happy. This is a good place for micro habits. Drink more water. Stretch. Get up. Add more leafy greens to your diet. Try these 6 essential habits to start your perfect day. No matter what you choose, you’ll be helping not only your body but also your mind.
4. Stop setting SMART goals
In goal-setting, SMART represents the words Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Realistic/Ready, and Timely. These are meant to guide you to accomplish what you want. But setting achievable SMART goals doesn’t get you very far.
“If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.” Fred Devito
“The bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity for growth.” Anonymous
So stop setting goals that are acheivable. Aim high and be prepared to put in the time and energy on them.
Don’t give in to self-imposed limitations. Again, aim high. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Employ the Placebo Effect to your advantage by believing that you can achieve anything you set your mind on. Here are some common mistakes people make when setting goals.
5. Identify the top three things that make you feel most alive
In order to design the life you desire, it’s important to identify the top three things that make you feel most alive. These are the activities and experiences that bring joy into your life, no matter what they may be.
These could include:
- Singing in a choir
- Playing with your kids
- Painting (or creating something else)
You might notice that these examples are not all work-related; this is because there are many ways for us to be productive outside of our careers as well as within them. We needn’t choose one over another–or even limit ourselves by thinking about productivity only in terms of our careers! You might want to try using The Wheel of Life to see how balanced or fulfilled your life is.
6. Look inward for inspiration
It’s time to look inward for inspiration. Who are you as a person, and what do you love? What are your passions? What has inspired you in the past, and what can inspire others in the future?
What have been some of the highlights of your life so far, and how did they come about? Were there any unexpected twists or turns that led to these moments? How did those experiences shape who you are today?
While looking at what has happened up until this point is important, so too is thinking about where we want our lives to go next: What kind of impact do we want our work/career/life choices (or any other aspect) to have on ourselves and others down the road.
Over the you
Designing a life plan is an incredible way to make your dreams come true. It’s also a great way to stay focused on what matters most in life, even when things get stressful or overwhelming. By taking the time to reflect on what makes us feel alive and why, we can make decisions that align with our values and goals instead of just reacting to situations as they arise. The key is finding the right balance between planning ahead while still being open enough so that opportunities can arise spontaneously along the way!
About the author
Christine Cheung, the founder of YourLifeCoach.CA, is known to inspire and empower people in developing a positive outlook on their future and reach self-actualization, through the building of their Self-esteem, Self-confidence, and Self-worth.
Looking for a deeper conversation? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a FREE coffee chat with her.