Planning your year by Living Forward

It’s the start of 2017 and what better way to start of the year than setting some resolutions? This year, rather than doing up the typical list of resolutions, I decided to do something different and did up a Life Plan, a term coined in the book entitled Living Forward.

This post takes you through what it involves and what I got out of the experience.

Why a Life Plan?

You set out some resolutions for the year and for 1 month you dutifully work at it- working out, eating healthily, even mediating in the morning. This works. You feel better and more well-rested. Month 2 rolls along and you get lazy. Ice cream starts to look more tempting and you would rather sleep in than meditate. By month 3, it’s likely many would have given up. Sound familiar?

In life, sometimes we take get so caught up in the day-to-day that we start drifting , unawares that we are taken away from our goals. We are distracted, overwhelmed and even deceived by all that life throws in our way.

A Life Plan seeks to alleviate that. According to the book:

A life Plan is a short written document, usually eight to fifteen pages long. It is created by you and for you. It describes how you want to be remembered. It articulates your personal priorities. It provides the specific actions necessary to take you from where you are to where you want to be in every major area of your life. It is most of all a living document that you will tweak and adjust as necessary for the rest of your life.

Design your legacy

This step involves thinking about h0w you want to be remembered. In planning anything, it helps to determine the end state. In other words, begin with the end in mind. In this case, it involves thinking of our eulogy as if it were being read today.

You will need to consider your key relationships and describing how you want to be remembered by each group. For example, I wanted my parents to remember me (among the many other things) as the one who brought them places and helped out around the house. This same thinking have to be done for the different group you have identified.

Determine your priorities

After thinking about how you want to to be remembered, the next step is to determine what is more important to you by ranking your Life Accounts by first determining the condition of each.

The premise is that Life Accounts are compartments that make up your life and the condition of each is determined by two factors, progress and passion. As progress usually is preceded by passion, the authors recommend igniting passion in an account first before driving toward progress as can be seen later.

Life accounts are unique to you and can be named whatever you want. Additionally, they are interrelated and will change over time. This means that you should be prepared to review your Life Plan every year as how we prioritize the different account changes too.

You can take the Life assessment profile here. The assessment takes about 20 mins and will spit out a report with the below figure.

LIfe assesment profile.JPG
Results from the Life Assessment Profile

The report also churns out some action steps you can take. For example, this was in my report for “Drift” condition life account – low passion, low progress.

This is the state of no passion and no progress. It is the worst possible state you can be in with one of your Life Accounts. If you fall here, you probably experience some disappointment, anger, or perhaps despair. To escape this negative spiral, something must change. You need to rekindle your passion and figure out how to get positive results. By the way, passion usually precedes progress because it’s the natural driver for change.

What We Recommend?

Count the Cost – Our accounts are interrelated so improving this area could have a dramatic impact on other areas of your life. A low balance in this account could be having holding you back in other areas. Spend some time thinking about what it would look like if you improved in this area – and the effect it could have on other areas.

The last part of this step is to prioritize your accounts.

Chart the course

This is where the real work starts. In this step, you start plan how you intend to get from where you are, to where you want to be by creating your actual Life Plan. It consists of five sections:  Purpose Statement, Envisioned Future, Inspiring Quote, Current Reality and Specific commitment.

Section 1:Purpose statement

In the purpose statement you imagine yourself assigned this account. What would be your primary responsibility? What’s your role? For example for my health account, my purpose is to eat and exercise so that I can live my days healthily and with adventure.

Section 2: Envisioned Future

Here , you describe how the account looks like when it’s an ideal state. Some tips to write this section is to imagine yourself in the the ideal state in the future , employing  all five senses and recording what you see using the present tense.

For the same health account, Here I wrote  : I eat healthily but have no qualms in having an indulgent snack once in a while. I am in the pink of health with no risk for disease. I have more than enough energy for the tasks I undertake.

Section 3: Inspiring Quote

Here you put a quote that you think fits the account and speaks to you.

Section 4: Current reality

In this section, you get to be brutally honest about the situation with yourself. The more honest you can be, the more progress you will see.

Section 5: Specific Commitment

You’ve heard about SMART goals. Here you get to implement them to get from your current reality to envisioned future.

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Actionable
  4. Realistic
  5. Time-bound

What I learnt

In the end, the authors recommend that you take one day from 8am to 5pm to really work through the exercises. I did just that and got the following insights.

Sometimes what we do day-to-day distracts us from what we are attempting to do as an end goal. Be it in taking the lead to organise trips overseas or just being more helpful around the house it certainly helps to know what your goals are with reference to the big picture, to know what our legacy will be.

Secondly, we may order our priorities to center upon others but we really should put ourselves as priority. Whether in self development or in health, the truth is your well-being affects others and putting yourself in the top few will enable you to help others. To take an analogy, in an emergency, you should put on your own oxygen masks before helping others.

In the end, what you want to leave as a legacy and what you prioritise changes as your situation changes. The authors recommend reviewing your Life Plan every year. Maybe you find yourself drifting along in life or find that your goals do not fit in the larger picture. Putting a Life Plan in place , if nothing else, clarifies your intention and helps you plot your route.

Have you tried a similar strategy for planning your goals or went through the same exercise? What are they and how have they helped you? I’ll love to hear from you.

Let’s begin 2017 right. =)

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