As children, as adults, as employees, and as business owners, we all have a dream world that we want to live in. Maybe yours entails having more money, a bigger house, or a nicer car. Maybe it involves a great promotion, tremendous growth in your business, or new fantastic career in which you are able to use all of your skills and that you truly enjoy! Whatever your dream world consists of, a lot of us never reach this place in the real world.
We don't fail to achieve this success for lack of intelligence, desire, or ability. Instead, we do not achieve what we really want in life because we don't have a plan to get there. In fact, a lot of us are just drifting through life, knowing what we would like to happen, but not having any strategy to help get us there. Therefore, we usually don't end up where we want to be or it takes us a lot longer to get there. Developing a life plan or a map is truly the key to long term success in all aspects of your life.
The first step in creating a plan to ensure success is to write down your goals. Make a list of all the things you hope to achieve in your life. Your list should include a variety of things, such as financial, travel, family, career, and fun goals. Next, go through your list and create a time frame for each item. Try and be as specific as the year in which you hope to accomplish the item. Your list should include some short term (one year) and some long term goals (five to ten years). Next, roughly prioritize the goals on your list. The foundation of your plan will be the most important goals in your life, so it is critical that you recognize these most important items.
Next, look closely at your goals and identify what needs to happen in order to achieve each goal. Identify the skills that you may need to acquire (i. e. , education, experience, employment), the money that you may need to save, and the changes that you may need to make within yourself and your life. It is at this step when you start creating small, realistic, and accomplished tasks for each of your goals. As you go through your goals, you will likely realize that they are interconnected and that the same tasks are required to achieve numerous things. In your initial step of writing down your goals you created a rough estimate of when you wanted to achieve each goal. Now, you need to create a timeline for each of the tasks that lead you to that final goal. Some of the tasks need to be specific enough to be placed in your day organizers for completion. For example, if one of your goals is to earn a promotion in one year, you need to develop a detailed one year plan that outlines the things you need to accomplish on a weekly or monthly basis. These tasks are placed on your “to do" lists and are accomplished amid your daily activities. For longer term goals, say five or ten years, your timelines are going to be more general, but they should be formatted so that you are continually moving in the direction of goal attainment. The importance of accomplishing your big goals step-by-step cannot be overestimated. Often, when we look to the future and think about all the work between where we are and where we want to be, we become overwhelmed. However, in creating a timeline, we realize that we don't have to do everything at once. Instead, we are preparing ourselves for success on a daily basis, building our confidence as we learn that we are very capable of tackling one step at a time.
There are two big mistakes we often make in creating a life plan. The first is forgetting to reevaluate the plan. It must be evaluated, updated, and revised as we travel down our life paths. We must periodically assess our progress, revise our priorities, and highlight our accomplishments. When we neglect this reevaluation step, we fail to maintain a realistic map to follow. The more you accomplish the more confident and self-assure you will become, and these traits will warrant changes in where you are heading. At least twice a year, if not once a quarter, you need to revisit your plan. The second mistake that we often make is not sharing our plan with the people around us. The people in our lives who live and work with us need to know where we are heading, as they are valuable resources to help us accomplish greatness. At the same time, if they do not understand our goals and are unclear of our direction, they can become obstacles in the road. Never forget the importance of a support system!
Creating and following a life plan will keep you focused on the most important things in your life. You will become more efficient, more productive, and more satisfied. Remember, we can talk all day about wanting to travel the world, but unless we set a date, map out a course, and start doing things today that are moving us in the right direction, it will never happen. Having a well constructed plan will provide you with a sense of purpose in your daily activities, along with a sense of direction. Additionally, because you know the direction you are moving, you will make better decisions about your life on a daily basis. Possibly the greatest benefit of having a plan for the future is that it enables us to live in the present! When we are organized, focused, and driven, we are able to live in each day and celebrate each moment because we know that all of our daily activities are moving us in the right direction. As a result, our daily lives become less stressful and more enjoyable, and that, on its own, is worth the effort of creating a life plan!