What Is A Good Life Plan?

Some people are pretty good planners and see clear benefit in organizing their thoughts and ambitions in life. Chances for success are dramatically improved by establishing specific goals, milestones and actions for achieving the desired outcome. Most people, however, just kind of wing it, to their detriment. I don’t think they know what a good life plan is, nobody teaches stuff like that in school. Algebra, sure, but life goals and planning, not so much.

You are more likely to be satisfied with your life if you develop a clear image for the life you want to live based on the things you value most. When an idea of a good life becomes more clear, you are able to break that down into smaller goals and action items that help you achieve these goals. The challenge in a life plan that is different from many other types of planning, is it’s not just about achieving your goals in life. It’s not just about getting to the destination. It is about finding a happy balance between living a satisfying life all along the way while still achieving long term goals.

What Is A Good Life Plan?

The destination in life is death. That’s the end of the line, so there’s no point in trying to hurry so much. Life is definitely one of those ‘enjoy the journey’ subjects.

Life Is A Dance, Don’t Rush It

The point is to enjoy life as much as you can between now and the end of your life. I believe a life plan needs to incorporate the goals that you have in mind, the outcomes that matter to your life, while reflecting the underlying goal of enjoying the entire journey. So, wanting to be financially independent when your 50 or 60 while enjoying the work that you do is the goal. Far too many sacrifice much of their lives doing things they hate in order to achieve their goals. Perhaps we all do this to some extent, but planning is the opportunity to choose the real balance you seek in life. Balancing the moments that make up your life between now and the end of it, while achieving your major milestones.

Alan Watts compared life to music and dance, emphasizing how absurd it would be to just try to get to the end as quickly as you can. The point of a dance is not to get it over with as quickly as possible, but to enjoy it. You’re meant to enjoy the dance, and not race to get it over. Enjoy the progression of it, the way it begins, the way it is in the middle of the way it ends. And that perspective is a powerful way to think about your life and how you might create a framework to live happily.

Why Is Life Planning Important?

Planning allows you to objectively step back and decide what it is that matters and how can you achieve it. What do you really want to have happen? Objectively, not how you’re feeling in this moment or what you feel like doing today.

And once you have selected a destination, how do you get from here to there? For example, if you wanted to drive to some distant location, a map would be helpful, if not essential. That is what a life plan is. It is a map that identifies where you are and where you are going.

Without a destination in mind and an idea of how to get there, you are meandering through life. This commonly leads to ‘oh crap’ moments where you realize you missed opportunities in life. A partner, family, career or just some awesome adventures. For example, if you have no plans for this coming weekend, is it likely to be less memorable than if you had made a plan including people you like and destinations you enjoy? I see a sofa and Netflix in your future. Now, nothing wrong with that, but I promise you will not look back with fond memories of that weekend you spent on the couch binge watching season 6 of the office…again!

A good life plan is much like a good weekend plan, but on a grander scale

Put Your Life Plan In Writing

Documenting (yes writing it down (journals are good for this)) what matters in your life and how to achieve it, exist, grow and refine over time. You may change your mind next month or next year or beyond, and that is perfectly fine. You can modify the plan as you become aware of overlooked priorities or as your needs change. Your first stab at a life plan may little more than an outline. It’s OK to be unclear or even wrong, it will evolve, so be patient and forgiving with yourself.

Starting Your Life Plan

There are people that you appreciate or even admire that have created lives you would like to emulate. Or perhaps portions of their lives appeal to you. You like how this couple does family or that man manages his career or others have committed to fun and adventure in a way you would love to as well. Ideas are everywhere once you start looking. Who do you know that has a life worth living, that you would be happy with? And who doesn’t? Once you start paying attention, you will see how uninteresting the lives of drifters becomes. The work of planning is too great a bother for some.

The first step in a plan is figuring out what it is you really value. What are the things that mean the most to you in life? This is not a job for children or sissies. Really figuring out what matters to you, what you would spend a lifetime pursuing, is real work and takes more mental energy that most will ever expend.

And this is thought provoking stuff. When I say, what do you value? I mean you as an individual, not your parents, not your girlfriend, not somebody that you admire, but you. What do you value?

What Are The Big Goals?

I would say getting married is a bad goal. If that’s your goal, you can do it. Lots of people do it, and half of them end up getting divorced. And a lot of kids are raised by single parents. And that doesn’t sound like anybody’s goal. But if you make getting married the goal, then you can pull it off. You’ll be able to find somebody who will marry you.

On the other hand, finding somebody that you would like to spend your life with, whose values align with yours, who you enjoy being with, who you trust, respect, admire, dang, that sounds pretty nice. Make that the goal. I hope you appreciate the distinction. In my opinion, the leading cause of divorce is choosing the wrong partner.

Financial goals matter. I’m less about money than most people, but money matters. I believe it is a required component of any sensible life plan. I think it starts simply enough by understanding the concept of ‘enough’. How much is enough to get by and be OK? And, how much of your life are you willing to sacrifice to have more?

Just start with the big ideas. A partner, a family, your career, fun and money. What do you really want and how are you going to make that happen

Don’t Over Do It

I’ve always enjoyed is planning. In fact, I may enjoy it too much, it just comes naturally to me. I like thinking about what sounds exciting in life and problem-solving about how to make that happen. Those are exciting topics to me.

It’s motivating to create a list of all the great things that you’d like in your life. The ambition to create an oversized wish list comes easy to me. You’re not going to have it all. You can have some things, but you can’t have everything. Be selective with what those things are.

Start small, but start. You have the rest of your life to figure it out and create your masterpiece. But you have to start.

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