Are you happy with where you stand in life right now? If yes, you’re extremely lucky. If not, welcome to reality.
Humans are (almost) incapable of being 100% satisfied with their everyday life, no matter how balanced and successful others consider it to be. This is because we tend to get to specific life spots without meaning, aim, or direction. To avoid this haphazard lifestyle, you need to learn how to make a life plan.
Now you must be wondering “what is a life plan?” “How will it give me higher life satisfaction?” “If it’s so amazing, then how do I formulate one?”
Well, you’re lucky because you landed on the exact page where you’ll find answers to all these.
Table of Contents
- Creating a Life Plan With an Action Plan
- How to Make a Life Plan
- Plan Your Goals and Structure an Action Plan
- 1. Determine Your “Why”
- 2. Write Down Your Goal
- 3. Set a SMART Goal
- 4. List and Weigh Your Options
- 5. Define Your Budget and Identify Resources
- 6. List the Steps You Need to Take
- 7. Take One Step at a Time
- 8. Order Your Tasks by Priority
- 9. Schedule Your Tasks
- 10. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits
- 11. Check off Items as You Go
- 12. Review and Reset as Necessary
- Life Plan Template
- Bottom Line
Creating a Life Plan With an Action Plan
There’s no living human who without a wish or dream. There’s also a high chance that most people consider their desires and dreams unrealistic and unachievable. Therefore, the unproven yet giant fear of failure keeps them from trying to reach for the stars.
Guess what? If humans can get to the moon, live underwater, and fly, anything is possible. What’s especially possible to realize is the idea that you have in your mind.
You may wonder how you can bring this idea, wish, or dream to life. The simple answer is a life plan.
What is a Life Plan?
Is it a booklet with a script of how your life is supposed to be? Or, is it a defined outline of the exact steps you need to take every passing minute?
A life plan is none of those things. Instead, it is a written promise to yourself to try ticking off the goals that you want to accomplish. It is your mind in the form of words on a piece of paper.
But what if you’re in your early 30s, unsure if these are the same goals you’d want in your 50s? There’s nothing to worry about! A life plan is entirely under your control. In truth, a good life plan is — and should be — flexible. There needs to be enough room for changes to let you grow and succeed down the road.
Why Is a Life Plan Important?
If you’re only writing down what’s on your mind, and it’s not even a fixed document, why is it necessary at all?
Look at it this way. How many ideas do you get each day? Probably hundreds. How many do you end up remembering, let alone implementing?
The only thoughts that become a reality are those you transfer from your mind to a piece of paper. They journey from your mind into this world. That is how your ideas come to life.
Similarly, your goals, even if they are long-term, need to be brought to life. The only way to get the opportunity to fulfill these goals practically is by taking them out of your head.
Aside from that, a life plan is sort of a commitment. It’s like signing a legal document, but you’re the law-making authority. You’re committing to your life plan, after all. If your goals or priorities change along the way, you have a valid reason to alter them.
For the most part, a life plan keeps you on track. It gives you the direction that you need to follow throughout the years. You always have your vision in front of you, so whatever you think of doing is coherent with your long-term plans.
How to Make a Life Plan
Now, let’s move to the best part: how to make a plan for life.
There’s no defined strategy or hard rule when it comes to learning how to make a plan for life. All you need to do is be true to yourself. On top of that, implement the following tips in the process so that you can have a realistic and achievable life plan that satisfies your needs.
1. Be Aware of Your Failures
Most plans require you to start with your strengths. Things that you have achieved in life, never messed up, and are amazingly good at, etc. That’s not the most authentic perspective of life.
The truth is, we all fail, and it happens more often than we’d like to accept. However, we need to be more accepting of our failures as they ultimately help us grow. Failures are proof that we’re trying.
If you start with your failures, you’ll instantly get a clear idea of which road you want to go down in the future. For one, failures show you the route that you’re genuinely making an effort on. Repetitive failures in one direction are a sign of your passion. On the other hand, consistently failing after many tries and changes is a sign that you need to turn away.
When you’re aware of your failures, you’ll get a clear direction to stick to right off the bat. Moreover, your failures will tell you precisely what you need to fix so that the rest of the journey becomes smooth.
If you have the fear of failure read this: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)
2. Identify Your Long-Term Vision and Values
Whatever your future plans are, they must satisfy your morals and beliefs. Thus, before planning anything, you need to identify your life values. Doing so will keep you from developing a life plan that clashes with your spirituality and mental stability. Being in line with your values is exceptionally crucial for a happy life.
If you’re a firm believer in empathy, you must ensure that your long-term plans do not harm the people around you. An empathetic individual cannot work for a makeup manufacturer that tests on animals, for example.
3. Evaluate Yourself
Based on your failures in the past and a clear vision of the future, take a look back. Think of the things and events that are most prominent in your memory. Learn from them by taking the good and figuring out how to fix the bad. Know what you never want to repeat while picking up on the things that you want to continue.
Your past should not haunt you. Therefore, an in-depth evaluation is necessary before you head into the future.
4. Prioritize the Future
This is the time to list down your numbers of plan for life chronologically. You’re not precisely devising a goal or plan at this point; you just need to prioritize things in the order that you want to achieve them.
For instance, if you’re currently 30 years old, getting a house within the next two years is perhaps your first priority. You may then want to get married at 35 years. After that, you may want to start a new business venture.
5. Ask for Support
You’re planning your life. You are the only one in charge of it, the only stakeholder in this deal. That is precisely why you need a supportive family and group of friends around you.
These are the people who motivate you to live life to its fullest and bring you back up when you’re exhausted. Your life plan is useless unless you are surrounded by those you want to live for.
Plan Your Goals and Structure an Action Plan
By now, you have a vision, and you’ve also prioritized your future. It’s time to put everything in an actionable form.
Basically, you need to break down your goals into small actionable and practical milestones. For example, to get a house, you must save money first. Your plan should include all the ways to save more money and get a suitable place for yourself.
An action plan is critical in accomplishing goals because it will help you stay motivated and ensure that you’re on track to complete your goals in a reasonable amount of time.
Following are a few action steps and tips that you can follow to make your action plan:
1. Determine Your “Why”
Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme.
The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.
Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:
“Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”
That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.
Before you start creating an action plan for life, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).
2. Write Down Your Goal
If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your dreams out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down .
When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.
3. Set a SMART Goal
A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.
By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin brainstorming the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.
- Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
- Measurable: To ensure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress and identify how you’ll collect the data.
- Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how to attain them.
- Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with your other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective and whether it’s worth pursuing.
- Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.
4. List and Weigh Your Options
Now that you have your goals listed, list all of your options and the costs and benefits of each.
Freedom of choice is accompanied by heavy duty. What you can do to narrow down your decision-making choice is create a pros/cons list.
5. Define Your Budget and Identify Resources
Not all goals require a defined budget, but many do. Define your budget upfront. Then, identify the resources you need to complete each step of the plan.
The main resources you will need to achieve your goals are time, money, people, and technology. There may be certain technologies you want to use, but you don’t have enough money to buy them. If you have more money, you can buy more technology and hire more people to help you complete certain steps, decreasing the time it will take to finish your project.
If you have fewer resources, reaching your end goal will take longer. Find the ideal balance for your plan.
6. List the Steps You Need to Take
Just like what I did in this article, you should list the steps you need to take in your action plan.
First, create a detailed, prioritized list of steps you must take to achieve your goal. Start with the very first step and end with the last one. Some steps will involve a series of other steps. Finding a good nutrition specialist may involve doing internet research, checking your current health plan for nutrition specialists, and talking to friends to see if they have specialists they can recommend to you.
Next, make sure you document all the steps and, if applicable, all the sub-steps involved in achieving your goal. Also, indicate who is responsible for performing the steps, if necessary, and include what tools, technologies, and other things you need to finish the steps, along with the price of these things.
Then, ensure that you’re operating within your budget.
Finally, Document how long it will take to finish each step. If you have people helping you, make sure you work with them to determine precisely how long it will take to complete each step.
7. Take One Step at a Time
Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.
Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these mini goals help you get where you need to go.
For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.
This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.
8. Order Your Tasks by Priority
With your action steps figured out, you’ll want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.
For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.
The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating or replacing soda with sparkling water.
Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster
9. Schedule Your Tasks
Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.
What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created and a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.
For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame. This will keep you from procrastinating on a given task.
Beware of the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.
While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set due dates or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).
10. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits
Without healthy habits, reaching your goal will be even more challenging, even if you have an action plan. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch daily, you’re undoing all your hard work.
Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.
You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable as you complete your projects.
11. Check off Items as You Go
You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety by showing you completed tasks.
There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.
If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go to the gym consistently.
12. Review and Reset as Necessary
Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.
If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it, so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.
Life Plan Template
Fill in this template however you would like to. It will serve as a simple yet thorough life plan:
Ultimately, it all comes down to you and your motivation to improve your life. If you want to be in a state of existence one day where you can be proud of your achievements based on your scales of judgment, a life plan is the way to go.
You have a free, easily applicable template in front of you. You also have enough reasons to put this template to good use. If you want, you are free to alter it to your liking and preferences. You can easily track your progress by following the action steps provided.
There is no excuse to slack off anymore. Get on with your life plan right away so that you can look back and thank yourself for this very moment a few years from now!
Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com
|Michael Hyatt: 7 Reasons Why You Need a Written Life Plan
|HuffPost: The Power of Writing Down Your Goals and Dreams
|Harvard Business Review: Your Desire to Get Things Done Can Undermine Your Effectiveness