For many years now, I have annually written out and implemented a Life Plan. I originally learned this process from Daniel Harkavy, CEO of Building Champions. Over the past decade I have lived it out, taught it, and coached scores of leaders through Life Planning. Writing and living out a life plan is one of the best investments you can make. In this post, I will unpack exactly how you can write your own Life Plan.
Writing a life plan involves:
- Assessing where you are in life
- Identifying what is important to you
- Writing out a vision for who you want to be
- Creating specific action plans in place to carry out your vision.
New Years is a great time to create a Life Plan for the new year. If you write a Life Plan, you will go into the first full week of January with a brand new comprehensive plan. But, you can do it anytime of the year! Interested? Read on to get started!
Step 1: Assess where you are in Life
Begin your life plan by assessing where you are in life right now. A great way to do this is to consider each of the following areas and give yourself a score for each area. How satisfied are you in each of these life priorities? Take a few minutes and rate yourself in each area on a scale of 1-10. (Remember, you are rating your level of satisfaction)
- Spiritual Life
- Extended Family (Parents, Siblings, In-laws)
- Self Development
- Health and Fitness
- Children (Yours)
Step 2: Choose 4-5 life priorities that you would like to focus on
From the above priorities, which are the most important for you to focus on this year? I recommend choosing 4 areas but if you must, you may choose 5. Now give each priority its own page in a document. (If you have 4 life priorities, you will have 4 pages in your document. After this stage you will have one word (i.e. marriage, finances etc.) written at the top of each page. The rest of the page will be blank.
Step 3: Write a Vision Statement for each Priority
In step three, you will define exactly who you want to be in each life priority. What do you hope to see when you look into your future? As you write your vision statement make sure to Write in the Present Tense.
Here is an example of what a vision statement could look like for marriage: (Feel free to include Scripture.)
“I am a man who loves and leads my wife. My marriage is the number one priority human relationship in my life, and my wife can clearly see that this is the case. She respects me, sees me as a godly and loving leader in our marriage. My wife sees me as a man who puts her interests before mine and lives out love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13.”
At the end of stage three, each of your 4 or 5 priorities will have a vision statement. This will take time to do well so don’t be in a hurry
Step 4: Create Specific Measurable Action Plans for each Priority
In step 4, it is time to get practical. How are you going to live out the vision statement that you just wrote? What are you going to do in order to be? What kinds of things will you do daily, weekly, monthly, etc. in order to move toward living out your vision? I recommend creating 3-5 action steps for each priority.
These action steps should be specific and measurable. For example:
- Vague: I am going to show my wife that I love her more often.
- Good: I am going to take my wife on a date weekly. (Specific and Measurable)
- Vague: I am going to lose some weight.
- Good: I will exercise for 30 minutes 5 times per week. (Specific and Measurable)
- Vague: I will spend time with God.
- Good: I will spend 30 minutes daily in Scripture and Prayer. (Specific and Measurable)
By the end of stage 4, you will have 4-5 pages, a key priority written at the top of each page, a vision statement written (perhaps including key Scripture), and several specific and measurable action steps.
Stop here and go write your Life Plan. Read on when you finish.
Now it is time to practice what you preach. On to step 5.
Step 5: Begin to live out your Life Plan
Record your action plans in your calendar as commitments. Remember they are your life priorities. Start implementing them this week.
Step 6: Stay on Course with a Weekly Review
Read your life plan weekly to assess where you are. I plan an hour weekly on Friday mornings for my weekly review. Doing this on Fridays allows me to plan all of my key priorities for the next week. Make sure to record your weekly review in your calendar as an appointment.
Step 7: Establish Accountability
It is much easier to write a plan than it is to actually live it out. Your weekly review will help you stay on track, but I also suggest that you find a partner who will hold you accountable in these areas of your life. Most of the leaders that I coach share their life plan with their spouse. (That’s accountability!) I also suggest meeting with a trusted friend monthly who knows what you have committed to. My friend Scott Thomas once said, “Accountability is not a silver bullet, but it is a bullet!”
As you write your plan and live it out, feel free to comment or ask questions!
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