Are you a planner or an improviser? Having a structured life plan will help you meet your goals more quickly.
In last week’s post, I introduced kanban and the concept of visual project management. Today is the first post in a series on applying visual project management to creating a life plan to achieve your goals. The tool we will be using is Trello, a great app for visual project management.
However, today we won’t be using Trello at all. Confused? Although I am very much a digital person, some projects are best tackled through physical handwriting.
The act of writing something down on a piece of paper has been linked to improved cognition. I used to struggle with learning the Japanese kana. When I switched from flashcards, to physically writing the kana, my recognition and recall ability improved dramatically. We will be laying the groundwork for our awesome epic life plans today. Laying a good foundation requires our complete focus.
So grab a pen and some paper and let’s begin.
Why a life plan?
A life plan will help you decide the goals that you want to achieve in your life and plan how to meet those goals. However, for creative people, sitting down and planning sounds boring.
I consider myself a creative person. I used to hate the planning process because I thought it would rob me of my creativity. Instead, I found out the opposite. Having a plan creates more time for the creative process. You don’t have to waste time on inertia.
I write faster now that I have a template for my blog posts and an outlining system for my fiction writing.
So I would argue that having a plan doesn’t mean that you aren’t being creative. In fact, we are going to use our creative abilities to draft our life plan. We will be using our imaginations to visualize our goals. Having a visual image of the end goal is a powerful motivator for sticking to and achieving a goal.
So how do you decide which goals are important?
Start With Yourself First
Most people believe that it’s selfish to focus too much on yourself. However, you can’t help those around you if you are suffering through your own problems.
Consider the following:
- Health: spiritual, emotional, and physical
- Intellectual development
- Talents that you want to develop
- Your bucket list
Let’s start with physical health first. Write down what your goals are for your physical health. Are you in good physical shape now or do you have some work to do? Write down your goals for your physical health. These can be goals such as improving your physical health by losing 50 pounds or feats of physical endurance such as running a marathon or climbing a mountain.
When writing your goals, be specific. If you want to run a marathon, which marathon? The Berlin marathon? If you want to climb a mountain, which mountain? Climbing Mount Fuji is much different from climbing Mount Everest. In the next few weeks, we will be coming up with specific action plans to accomplish each of your goals. For now, try to be as specific as possible with each goal on your list.
Now imagine what it is going to feel like to achieve that goal. If you dream of climbing Mount Everest, imagine the rush of reaching the summit. The wind is whipping around you and you’re shivering from the cold, but you’re standing on the roof of the world! Write down your thoughts and feelings on achieving this goal. Include as much visual imagery as possible. How are you feeling? What are you thinking?
Don’t worry if you have some difficulty in deciding which goals you want to list. Your life plan won’t be set in stone. Throughout your life, your priorities may change. Consider the list you are creating today your starting point on your epic adventure.
Next, consider your emotional health. Overall, are you a happy person? Do you find joy in your relationships? Or are you constantly tired and stressed?
Sometimes we develop self-destructive habits that have become ingrained. Write down what areas of your life are draining your emotional health. Now write what it will feel like to have this weight off of your shoulders. Next, write concrete steps to tackle your problems. These may include finding a coach, counselor, or seeking medical treatment to help improve your situation. Don’t hesitate to seek help.
Working on from here, what are your intellectual goals for yourself? Is there a degree that you would like to earn? Is there a language that you would like to speak? Books that you would like to read?
Again, be specific as possible. Don’t just write that you want an MBA. Do you want an MBA from Harvard? From Wharton? Instead of writing that you want to speak five languages, write that you would like to be able to converse in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Russian. Now imagine the outcome of each of these goals. Imagine yourself giving a speech to your graduating class. Or imagine yourself on a sunlit terrace in Spain conversing with the locals while enjoying the Tapas.
Are there any talents that you have that you want to make time for? Is there a talent that you would like to learn?
From here, start on your bucket list. At the end of your life, what do you want to have accomplished?Where do you want to visit? Shanghai? Or maybe Buenos Aires?
What are your goals for your career or your business?
Write everything down.
If you are having trouble setting goals, I have a whole post on how to set goals that you can accomplish.
How Do You Want The Most Important People In Your Life to Remember You?
At the end of your life, what do you want your friends and family to think of you? It can feel kind of morbid, but we do have a limited amount of time on this planet. More importantly, we don’t know how much time we have left. As Stephen Covey writes in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,
Begin with the end in mind.
Consider the relationships in your life. These can include but are not limited to:
Write these relationships down on a piece of paper. Leave some space because you will be returning to this list shortly.
Take an inventory of your current relationships. What are you doing well? Are there areas that need more attention from you?
Are there any relationships that you don’t have now that you would like to have? How would you imagine that relationship?
At this point, it’s worth taking a step back and considering whether you are providing value to these relationships or if these relationships are providing value to you. This sounds harsh, but it isn’t. If a relationship isn’t providing value to you and the other person, perhaps it is best for both of you to take some time off from the relationship.
Write down what you want the important people in your life to remember you for. What do you want to accomplish in each relationship? Make it detailed. Imagine what you want your friends and family to say about you at the end of your life.
Write a small paragraph on each of your important relationships. Focus on specific goals for each of these relationships. If there is a trip that you would like to take with your spouse, write down what that trip will be like. Imagine your children graduating college or getting married. What do they say to you?
By now, you should have a long list of goals that you want to accomplish. You might be feeling overwhelmed now. Don’t worry. Take a moment and go back to each of these goals. Flesh out your descriptions of achieving these goals. Imagine your life as a movie. What does this scene look like? Next week we will work on setting up our life storyboard in Trello.
By using Trello, we will be able to visually see if all areas of our life are in balance. After we get our lives balanced, we can start breaking down each goal into bite-sized mini-goals and working on developing the systems we need to accomplish these goals.
Are you ready to get started?