I recently wrote a blog on How To Turn Your Resolutions Into SMARTER Goals to show the clear distinction between making a counterproductive resolutions, setting generic goals, and setting SMARTER goals. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with resolutions or goal setting, but I do have a problem with goal setting that has an extreme lack of details, planning, and accountability. A New Year's resolution, to me, is a baby step in the right direction of goal setting, but they aren't equal. Even goal setting is decent on it's own, but there is something that is much more effective! If everyone did this, it would be an absolute KILLER for New Year's Resolutions. People would have much more clarity in their lives, they would live every single day with more intention, and they would absolutely crush their goals. More dreams would be achieved, more small businesses would thrive, and six-pack abs would be more common among top-performing professionals (that's not a joke!). The problem is that many people don't do this one key thing that can easily alter the course of their lives. So what's the secret? What could I possibly tell you right now that can legitimately alter the course of your life? It's simply called a Life Plan. I truly believe that everyone, especially leaders, should have a detailed and written life plan in place. If you don't have one in place, it's only a matter of time before you get exposed! What I mean by that is that if you are already in a leadership position and you do not have clearly defined goals, written plans of action, and a vision for your life... Then where exactly are you leading those who follow you? You can't lead someone to somewhere you've never been, so stop hoping for the best and start planning for the best. True leaders have a clearly defined vision that people want to follow. They have confidence in each step because they have planned for the best results and the worst outcomes. No matter what circumstances come into play, the leader has their eye's focused on the destination. Leaders lead themselves before they lead others... and people take notice! A great way to lead yourself to success is to create a roadmap to follow (aka a Life Plan). Here are 5 reasons why I believe a life plan is uber-important!
1. A life plan will help you establish what your most important priorities are.
Usually, it is common to choose the 5 most important areas of your life and concentrate on each of these areas specifically. I remember a time when my wife and I had a fun-filled weekend planned with our kids. We decided to visit the zoo, eat out for lunch, and end up back at home to watch a movie that Saturday afternoon. As we finished our lunch, my cell phone began ringing and I couldn't help but answer the call. A very important and unexpected meeting was called because one of our key partners was in town. My immediate reaction was to drop everything I was doing to attend, that was until I looked around at my family. My personal life plan puts my family above my job, so it was easy for me to decide what my highest priority was. I'm not saying that putting family above your job requires a life plan, but putting these things on paper only reinforces your priorities.
"You'll always have time for the things you put first."
2. A life plan will help you identify where you are now, and where you want to be.
A life plan allows for times of a specific, scheduled, and deep self-reflection time. I personally believe that people do not do this nearly enough as they should. In fact, I think that people spend more time planning their vacations than planning their life. A solid life plan will have areas where you can write the raw and real of where you are at now, and envision where you see yourself in 1, 5, and 10 years from now (minimum). Let's face it, many of us aren't satisfied with where we are now. We all want to be the best possible version of ourselves, which requires a consistent and steady growth pattern in different areas of our lives.
3. A life plan will help you reverse-engineer a clear roadmap to the destination where you want to be.
One of the most helpful exercises that you can do in writing out your life plan is when you reverse engineer your biggest goals into much smaller, more attainable ones. This means creating milestones that can be achieved weekly or monthly, that can be achieved relatively quickly, to give you some small wins that can give you the motivation needed to continue to work towards the larger goal.
4. A life plan will help you set up a review process and keep you accountable to the commitments you have made.
A life plan is pointless if there is no strategy for analyzing and reviewing your progress. I personally set weekly reviews every Sunday night so that I can evaluate my goals on a smaller scale, then every quarter on a medium-scale, and then once a year on a much larger scale. This process is most refreshing to me because I am able to look back at all my wins, make edits to my goals as needed, and even take time to remind myself where I am headed. The review process creates accountability with myself, but that is not enough. The most successful achievers and life-planners usually establish a mentor or accountability partner. This is someone trustworthy that dreams and goals are shared with in order to create extreme accountability. Many times this works best when both sides agree to share and develop life-plans.
"What you allow is what you'll continue."
5. A life plan will help you ensure that you don't drift through life aimlessly and that you leave a legacy.
For many people, life is not turning out like they had hoped. They are disappointed, confused, and discouraged. But it doesn’t have to be this way. While you can’t control everything, you can live your life with a plan and dramatically improve your chances of ending up at a destination you choose. Most people wander aimlessly from week to week, with no clear destination in mind. Many are then surprised when life doesn’t turn out like they hoped. But is it any wonder?
"Everyone ends up somewhere, but few end up somewhere on purpose."
So, how do you get started?
For starter's I recommend getting your hands on Michael Hyatt's "Living Forward" book, which will give you some very clear and actionable advice on how to build a life plan. This book is an easy read, and will surely get you back on track to living the fulfilled life that you have always wanted.