life plan

5 Steps for Creating an Effective Life Plan

At one time or another many of us find ourselves drifting through life. It might be because we find our careers unfulfilling, or our personal lives may be stuck in a rut or maybe we’re just not living the lives we’d planned in our youth. Feeling directionless is unsettling and scary, but it’s never too late to remold your life in a new image.
You might be familiar with the Law of Attraction, a self-help principal which states that if you focus on good things, then good things will come to you. It might sound like spiritual mumbo jumbo, but many enormously successful individuals including Oprah Winfrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Will Smith have used it as a foundation to achieve far beyond their wildest dreams.
Simply put if you find your direction in life, and direct all your energy towards it in actionable ways you set yourself up to succeed, and to help you on your way you need a life plan. Here are some steps for building your own.

Get Away
If you’re caught in the grind of daily life it can be impossible to get any perspective and find time for real self-analysis. Take a weekend, or a few days off and find a place where you can get the peace and quiet necessary for self-reflection. If you have an affinity for nature, get out into the great outdoors if you’re more urban then perhaps find yourself a nice view of your environment.
Take along your laptop, a diary or chart to write down your thoughts as they occur, use whatever you’re most comfortable with because you want as little distance between your thoughts and your words as possible.

Where are you now?
If you’re going to figure out where you need to go, then you need to assess your life as it stands today. You play numerous roles in your daily life, as a parent to your children, a partner to your spouse, a friend to your colleagues, a boss to your employees and as a son to your parents. List these roles in order of their current importance, where do you focus most of your energy?
Rate yourself in each of these functions. Do you feel that you’re a good parent, a loving spouse, a good friend? Focus on your satisfaction, and try to tune out any outside criticisms.

Is this your Vision?
Now it’s time to do some real soul searching, ask yourself what characteristics you value the most. Try to look back and connect the dots, ask yourself how you got to this point. Do the current roles you fulfil give you a sense of purpose and clarity? Do they fit your vision of the person you want to be?
It’s time to start re-prioritizing, put the roles you feel most strongly about at the top. If there’s something you want to do that isn’t included in your current list then add that too. For example, if you’ve always wanted to start a business you might want to add “entrepreneur” right at very top. If you want to be the best father possible to your children then this role needs to take priority over all others. Take some time to think about how you want the people in your life to see you in each of these roles, and write a clear defined purpose for each one.
Remember the list may change as time goes on, and you might well need to compromise in order to fulfil all of them at once but that’s much easier with a clear sense of direction.

Set some Goals
Make a list of all the major aspects of your life, physical health, financial security, mental and emotional fulfilment, social and intellectual. Now give yourself a goal for each one, make sure that your goals stretch the limits of what you’re capable of. “Earn more money” isn’t enough, you goals need to be specific and actionable, give yourself a timeframe and an amount, so you have a clear path to success.

Action Plan
Now it’s time to get out there and start doing the hard work, you know where you want to go and who you want to be so your efforts need to match your vision. Break down your objectives into days, weeks and months.
Plan each week and month before you start it, and try to stick to the game plan as much as possible, even if you only manage 50% of your tasks to start off with you’re making 50% more progress than you were when you started. Eventually all your short-term goals will link together to lead you towards your long-term vision.

When you’re done
Make sure to review your plans at the end of a set period to make sure you’re still happy with where you’re headed and that you’re sticking to your stated principles. It’s a great idea to share your vision with someone close to you, in order to establish accountability; if your spouse knows what you have planned they will work hard to keep you on track as well.

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