Apr 7, 2009

- A Guide to Creating Your Life Plan

 A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
To be successful in your life, you need to have a life plan. Without a plan, many of your dreams will only be dreams. A life plan, on the other hand, will help you turn your dreams into reality. It works because it gives you not a just a destination, but also a way to get there.
 
A life plan doesn’t have to be complicated. It should answer just two questions:
  1. What is your destination?
  2. How will you get there?
Let’s look at them one by one.

What is Your Destination?

You should know where you are going. Not knowing your destination is a mistake because you may end up in the wrong place. You need to know where you want to go so that you don’t waste your time and effort.
Here are some tips related to finding your destination:
1. Create your life map
To see how your life will be in the future, it’s helpful to see how your life has been in the past.  By creating a life map, you can see patterns in your life that help you find out where you should go.  Look backward, connect the dots in your life, and project them into the future.
2. Find your life purpose
Your life purpose gives you meaning in everything you do. It helps you do what matters to you and makes your life fulfilling. Without a purpose, you may achieve much but feel empty inside. Take the time to find your purpose in life.
3. Discover your big dreams
The size of your dreams has a lot to do with living in mediocrity. If your dreams are small, there is no reason for you to move past mediocrity. It’s easier to just live a comfortable life. On the other hand, if your dreams are big, you have to move past mediocrity to make your dreams come true. So discover the big dreams in you.
4. Make short-term goals
You should know what your final destination is, but you should also have milestones along the way. These milestones help you stay on track. They help you know whether or not you are on the right path to reach your destination.
You create the milestones by breaking your long-term goals into short-term ones. What do you want to achieve this year? What do you want to achieve this month? What do you want to achieve today?
5. Keep refining
Knowing your destination is a process. If you are like me, you will refine your destination over time. It’s like zooming in a picture. At first you see the big picture, but after zooming it in you can see its details. Similarly, perhaps you can only see the big picture of your destination now. That’s fine. Follow it. Along the way, you will find clues that make the picture clearer. 
How Will You Get There?
After knowing your destination, you need to know how to get there. Here are some tips related to it:
1. Find and communicate your personal brand
To achieve your goals, you need to market yourself. You need to find the unique value you can provide to others and communicate it. This way people know that they can come to you to meet their needs.
  
2. Have some guiding principles
There are a lot of distractions along the way to your destination. To prevent yourself from being distracted, you need to have some guiding principles. You need to identify the value you believe in. These principles help you stay true to yourself in everything you do.
3. Find your deliberate practice
Doing deliberate practice is important if you want to be remarkable. Deliberate practice is the kind of practice that stretches the boundaries of your capabilities. A good rule of thumb is you need about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a world-class expert in a field. Find out where you should invest that 10,000 hours.
4. Use tacking strategy
The world constantly changes so you need to constantly adapt. That’s why tacking – a term taken from the world of sailing – is a good strategy to apply. With tacking you set a short-term objective, work hard to achieve it, evaluate your performance, and adjust accordingly. 

Executing Your Life Plan

After knowing your destination and how to get there, you need to execute your plan. Here are some tips on executing your life plan:
1. Focus
There is no question that focus is essential to achieve your goals. Without focus, you will spread your effort and attention too thin and eventually achieve nothing. Be careful though. You should be focused but not obsessed.
  
2. Be persistent
You should be persistent because failure is inevitable on your way to success. Without persistence, it’s easy to get discouraged in the face of failure and stop before reaching your destination. Have faith and keep pushing forward.
 3. Build relationships
Nobody can succeed alone. You need the support of other people to succeed. So build your network before you need it.
 4. Start now
A good plan vigorously executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.
George S. Patton
Don’t wait until your plan is perfect before you start. Don’t wait for the perfect time. Start now. You will learn more by doing than by waiting.
(lifeoptimizer) 

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