Why You Need a Life Plan (and how to make one)
We feel that your business is primarily a tool to help you live the life you dream about. So, I guess it makes sense that the idea of Life Planning is currently a very popular topic among the members of our Roundtables Peer Groups.
So, what is Life Planning?
According to Wikipedia, “Life planning is a process by which an individual takes stock of his or her life, clarifies goals and challenges, and identifies the steps needed to move forward.”
Why do people do Life Plans? I asked a couple of our members about this.
David Girard, Principal of PeakVentures in Whistler, British Columbia said, “The life plan we created was born out of a necessity to link our business activities and our business plan to our personal life. It helped us gain an understanding of what we wanted out of running this crazy business . . . what motivates us to get up every day and do what we do. Creating a life plan forced us to develop personal goals for areas of our lives that, in some cases, didn’t have any former goals previously.”
Ken Kirsch, owner of MAK Design+Build in Davis, CA, added, “I compare it to working with a client. The first thing we ask them to do is to sit down together and write down their goals for the project. The simple act of writing goals is the first step in taking vague and unspoken ideas and bringing them into the real world. The same is true of a life plan.”
Do you have a life plan?
Don’t worry, it’s not like a 50-page business plan with maps and checklists. A life plan is meant to be a general summary of where you are now in all the areas that matter to you, where you want to improve and what you’d like your life to look like in the future.
Creating a life plan doesn’t have to be difficult or take hours to complete. But it can be worth some time if it helps you get the life you want, instead of chasing the wrong things and working hard, only to find that we have been following the wrong path.
So let’s get started
Begin by answering these questions:
1. How would I like to be remembered? One way to think of this is to visualize your own funeral. Imagine that you are listening to your spouse, your children, work colleagues, and friends, as they share their thoughts about you with all those gathered to say goodbye. A secondary benefit of this exercise is that it helps keep in mind that life is short!
2. How would I rate my life? – Are you satisfied with the way your life is right now? Somewhat satisfied? Not at all satisfied? Be honest. You don’t have to share it with anyone.
3. What are my personal priorities? Many people like to build this around categories that represent areas of importance, such as the bullets below.
- Spiritual Life
- Personal Health
- Personal Happiness
In each of these areas, write down where you are today and where you would like to be. Take some time and really think about this. Describe the ideal situation for each of these areas. As we know from business, it’s so much easier to accomplish something when you have a goal to shoot for.
Next, think about what needs to happen for you to get from where you are now, to where you want to be. It doesn’t have to be a detailed action plan right now, just some general goals or ideas to work toward. You can get more detailed later, but you need to define a target. Consider what habits you’d like to adopt, what ways you might change your attitude or environment, and what resources might be needed.
Girard says, “Working on this plan together forced my spouse and I to talk about things that we hadn’t discussed much previously. It drove us to formalize a discussion about what we wanted in life. . . instead of plodding along without a true target to focus on.”
Kirsch commented, “Maintaining focus on the end goal gives purpose to daily decision-making within the business.”
But it’s not over yet
A life plan is meant to be a living document, as Roundtables member, Abe Degnan, president of Degnan Design Builders, Inc. said. “I keep it updated on a routine basis. It certainly is not going to be a static plan throughout our lifetime as we are young. Our goals will change, and the plan will change with it.”
While it might be challenging to drill into your life in this way, when it comes down to it, if a life plan will help you live more fully in every area of your life, isn’t it worth the effort?
What about you?
Do you have a Life Plan? Why did you feel it would be a helpful exercise? How has your life changed because of it?