How to Plan a Life

My friend’s son is turning ‘1’ next week and in lieu of presents, she’s asked us, friends and family, to write a letter to her son in the future. It’s part of a time capsule that he’ll open on his 18th birthday.

I loved the idea instantly.

And then I dragged my feet almost a month to write the letter.

Each time I thought about it, I got overwhelmed. What would I say to this little boy who’ll then be a young man. So much could and will change in his life in 17 years.

I mean, 17 years ago, I was graduating high school. So much has happened in my life during that span:

  • ran a marathon with less than two years of running experience
  • traveled throughout North and Central America, the Caribbean, Europe and Northern Africa
  • lived in England for a year
  • married my high school sweetheart in the 115° heat of the desert… and loved every sweat-filled moment
  • started and successfully run my own business
  • went from zero to seven tattoos
  • became a mother to two adorable, cuddly rescue pups
  • lost four grandparents
  • welcomed my beautiful niece into the world
  • broke then repaired my relationship with my parents
  • broke then repaired my relationship with myself

And that is just a sampling.

Some I simply couldn’t plan for, but others, I must have had one hell of a plan in place to reach those milestones.

Planning for much further down the road feels so difficult. We want to get it right. But we’re also well aware that ‘life’ can get in the way of our goals.

So then, what’s the use of planning for the long-term?

Turns out, planning and committing and pivoting when you need to is not for nothing.

The idea of the time capsule letter and all the thoughts that bombarded me brought to mind a recent Goal Setting Workshop and I just had to share what I learned with you.

Want to plan your one, precious life? Here’s how to do it:

  1. Plot out your Life Journey line so far.
    Think about your life from birth until now and draw it in graph form, like this:

    Drawing your life in this way gives you a sense of all you have been through and accomplished in your life so far. I’m betting there were some dips in your line, but you bounced back, probably even better than before.
  2. Write down your life hopes, desires and wants in a Personal Portfolio.
    These are events, activities, goals, milestones you want to accomplish during your life. When writing your list, it’s helpful to think in terms of categories, such as Relationships, Family, Health, Finances, Career, and Bucket List. They can be as diverse as live in Barcelona for 3 months or own a book shop or book monthly massages for myself.
  3. Pick the top 3-5 items from your Portfolio and make your Roadmap.
    On a line, plot out when these items will occur in the next 5-10 years. Be specific as to what year you want these events and activities to take place. You may find that some actions need to happen in certain years. For instance, you might have the goal to take a celebratory vacation with your spouse every 5th anniversary.
  4. Pick your Target Nugget.
    From the 3-5 items that you plotted on your Roadmap, pick the #1 that stands out. As you move through the exercise, one thing in particular will probably jump out as the Target Nugget. If not, check in with your body and feel for sensations of lightness when imagining accomplishing each one. The lightest one – that’s your Target Nugget.
  5. Plan it out.
    To delve into how to best go about the planning step, ask yourself why it is so important to you to meet this goal and what it will mean to you once you do. Then use those responses to list out the steps to make it happen. The steps should be detailed actions and include target dates for meeting mini milestones.
  6. Get to work.
    Once you have the steps in place, plug them into your calendar, set up monthly reminders and get after it. For added support, find an accountability partner and hold regular check-ins, either in-person, via phone, email or video calls.

One caveat – it is very important that you write out your responses for each step of the entire exercise, rather than just thinking about them. When you write things down, your brain is more likely to take hold of the thought and make it a reality.

My target is in the works and it is BIG. It involves changing the way that businesses, both large and small, fundamentally operate for all parties involved, including the leadership team, customers, employees, shareholders, vendors and suppliers, local community and the environment. It draws on all of my life experience to date, but there’s still so much more to learn and test and tweak before I can claim victory.

Have a BIG goal you want to accomplish? Tell me your why and how you plan to make it happen. 

[Huge h/t to Popi of Wonder Women for leading the eye-opening goal setting workshop that inspired this post.]


2 responses to “How to Plan a Life”

  1. I love all the personal things that you shared! There is an entirely different side of you from the totally together business woman that I know. I think the tattoos surprised me the most! I never see them!

    I love the Life plan concept – Excellent take on it. Thanks for sharing.

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