Most of us would never dream of starting or running a business without a carefully thought out business plan, yet we often live our lives without any plan or premeditation. Without that intentional approach to life we are often overwhelmed and stressed out. We all have goals, whether it is to loose weight, save money, stay healthy, advance our career, or connect with love ones. But how are you going to actually achieve any of your goals or stay on track without a plan to get there? This is where creating a Life Plan comes in.
You may hear a lot about creating a Life Plan in business success circles, but developing a Life Plan can be useful in your every day life whether your are a corporate executive, a college student, or a stay at home mom. Creating a life plan helps you to organize your life in ways that you may never have thought of before.
A Life Plan gives you several benefits including:
- Saves Money by helping you to keep track of your finances, plan your spending, and reduce wasteful spending.
- Saves Time by keeping you organized and putting all of the information that you need right at your finger tips.
- Improves Your Health by helping you to track your weight, plan your meals, remember appointments and needed check-ups, and giving you a proactive plan for tackling health issues and preventative care.
- Reduces Stress in a number of ways. Being organized and in control of your life is one of the most important factors in reducing and eliminating the stress in your life. Creating a life plan will help you to prioritize your life and set goals.
- Improves Relationships by helping you keep track of your schedule and make time for the things that matter most in your life and encourages connections with the important people around you.
- Helps You to Achieve Goals by giving you a strategy for reaching your goals and mapping your success along the way with regular check points to monitor progress.
Creating a Life Plan Gives You a Personalized Plan of Attack. Unlike many tips or guide books out there, a Life Plan is authored by you, so it is customized to get you exactly where you want to be without wasting your time dealing with tasks or chapters that are not relevant to your life or goals.
Creating a Life Plan is a simple and effective way to take charge and create the life that you have always wanted, so let’s get started.
Grab your Day Planner (an essential for getting organized), a pen, and some paper and get ready for a hard core look at yourself. If you do not have a Day Planner or personal organizer, no problem, you can create a calendar easily from your computer or pick one up for plan scheduling with your Life Plan.
The first thing that you need to do is think about how your life is and how you want it to be. Jot down a few notes about your goals, your strengths and weaknesses. As we go through each section of your Life Plan you will be dealing with several questions to aid in creating a plan for your life. You can print off your goals and information and arrange them in a handy binder or even use a notebook for your Life Plan, whichever is the most effective for you.
We are going to take a look at seven key areas that you will need to include in your Life Plan including Finances; Health, Fitness, and Mental Well Being, Career & Education, Family, Community & Personal Relationships, Goals & Lifestyle Evaluation, Emergencies & Long Term Planning, and Special Projects.
This section will take a look at your current income, budget needs, and future goals and help you to develop a schedule to help you keep track of your budget and financial needs.
In this section you will want to include the following areas:
- A record of all income.
- A list of your current spending.
- A list of all bills and necessary expenses.
- Your financial goals. (Are you trying to get out of debt, save money, plan a vacation, etc.?)
Once you have this information in front of you, it will help you to to make some decisions and create a weekly and monthly budget. Your monthly budget will be an overview of all of the income coming in and the bills due. You will break that down into a weekly budget that will help you control spending and plan pay dates to make sure that you get everything paid on time.
This will also give you a chance to see the areas that are costing you the most and where you might be able to trim some fat. Are you spending a lot of money by eating out? This could be an area to focus on that would not only help you save money but create healthy meals at home with your family. Do you waste a lot of money on late charges because you can never keep track of when your bills are due? Or perhaps you are paying for a gym membership that you never use.
The financial section of your Life Plan will not only be useful in getting your finances under control but will also give you a snapshot of your life, where you are putting your money, and where you could better use your resources. If you are using a binder for your Life Plan this is also a great section to keep track of all of your account information, customer service agreements, warranty information, etc.
Health, Fitness, & Mental Well Being
This is perhaps one of the most important sections of your Life Plan, after all if you do not take care of your health, little else will matter. To get started on this section, take a real and honest look at your current situation. What is your health like? Do you have special concerns such as high blood pressure or diabetes? Then evaluate yourself to see where you are falling short. For example, are you getting enough exercise? Do you need to loose weight? Is your diet appropriate for you and your current health?
The most important things that you will need to do with this section is to include your current status, your future goals, and what steps you will need to take to reach those goals. This is also the section where you need to include a meal plan, weekly shopping lists, and a fitness schedule. Creating a chart to keep track of medications is also a good idea.
Keep in mind, that your over all health is not just about your physical well being, but your mental and emotional health as well. Developing your spirituality, taking time to meditate, or connecting with a religious community are important parts of your health plan. Stress and stress related diseases kill millions of people every year. Taking care of yourself properly means taking time for your inner self just as much as you do your physical body. This is true regardless of which religion or ideology you subscribe to and whether it is taking a relaxing bath, making time for prayer, or playing chess during a rousing philosophical discussion, be sure to feed your mind and your soul just as much as you do your body.
Some of your health and fitness goals could include:
- Losing weight
- Lowering your blood pressure
- Decreasing sugar intake
- Lowering cholesterol levels
- Improving flexibility
- Strengthening your muscles
- Preventing heart disease
- Boosting your immune system
- Improve digestive health
- Increase energy levels
- Make time for prayer
- Learn to meditate
- Connect with a local synagogue, church or religious center
Once you have these goals in place that are customized for you, you will be able to create a meal plan based on those goals. Creating a meal plan with a pre-defined shopping list before you head to the grocery store will also help you save money.
Career & Education
Next up, it is a time to take a look at your career and educational goals. This section will apply to everyone, even if you do not engage in work outside of the home or if you are still a student. The idea of this section is to help you look at what you are currently doing, find ways to do that better, and to help you achieve new goals for these areas. Productivity and goal setting will be important here whether your are writing a novel, starting a business, or folding laundry.
Make a list of what activities you are currently doing. Then, next to that, list the things that you want to do and see how they compare. If they are not matching up then this gives you a starting point to work with.
Also, consider what your traits and talents are. Using your natural talents and abilities throughout your day tends to make you more productive and leads to greater enjoyment in your work. If your current situation is not allowing you to do this, then this is the chance to develop new career goals and to put a plan in action for obtaining that new position.
Education is also important to keep in mind in a Life Plan, but not merely for career purposes. Would learning to sew help you save money by doing minor repairs on clothing and items around the house? Maybe you have always dreamt of a trip to Paris but have never learned French, now is the time to include that goal. Education is a life long endeavor and learning new skills can help you advance your career or begin a new one, achieve life long goals, or simply add enjoyment to your life. Including educational goals in your Life Plan also keeps you forward thinking and gives you many more options to deal with the various aspects of your life, both personally and professionally.
Family, Community, & Personal Relationship
Next is a look at your family, community, and personal relationships. This is one of the key areas in which many people also address stress issues and find their priorities. It is time to think about those people in your life, both positive and negative. Examine your relationships and how they are effecting your life. Is your marriage in trouble? If so this is the time to work on a plan for addressing your issues, strengthening your marriage, or attending marriage counseling. Perhaps your marriage is great, but you just moved to a new town and do not know anyone in the community. This section of your Life Plan can help you to develop some ideas for becoming involved in the community and meeting new people.
Unfortunately, not all of the people in our lives are positive influences. This is the time to ask yourself some important questions and maybe even make some hard calls. If there are people, or situations with those people, that are causing undue stress in your life and hindering you from reaching your full potential then it may be time to deal with the situation, whether it be confronting the person to deal with issues or to develop a plan to facilitate better communication. Sometimes, it may mean eliminating the person from your life all together.
This can come into play in many different areas of your life. For example, if you dread going to your doctor because you always feel that it is a battle to get him or her to listen to you then perhaps it is time for you to find another doctor with whom you can build a better working relationship. If you have been trying to quit smoking but have a friend who always smokes around you, then it is time to talk to them honestly and request that they no longer smoke in your presence. This can be a difficult process but often you will find it is much easier to deal with a situation directly than to let it fester over time.
This is also your opportunity to consider ways to reach out and spend more quality time with those nearest and dearest to you. Institute a family game night or a date night with your spouse. Set a date to write a weekly letter to your sister living abroad or to visit sick relatives in the hospital. Deciding where you priorities are and what social activities you can actually incorporate into your life without becoming over burdened will be an essential part of creating a successful life plan.
Goals & Lifestyle Evaluation
This is a pretty straight forward section where you decide what your goals are and evaluate your lifestyle in order to determine what is working and what needs to change. Since you have already been looking at most of the key aspects of your life, you already have the information in front of you that you will need for this section. Develop your goals and evaluate your lifestyle in relationship to those goals. Do you have bad habits that are impacting your health? Is your spending out of control? Maybe you are feeling a bit isolated and need to find ways to connect to your community. Wherever you want your life to go you can develop a plan to get you there.
It is important at this point to set a series of realistic goals to help you map out your progress. For example, do not merely set a goal of loosing weight, be specific and set a series of goals. If you want to drop thirty pounds, set a date for that goal then break it down into a weekly goal for weight loss that will help you reach your main goal.
Emergencies & Long Term Planning
Another simple part to include your Life Plan is emergency and long term planning. What is your emergency response plan to a house fire or natural disaster? Do you have storm supplies and a first aid kit prepared? Does your family know where to meet should disaster strike? Who will take care of your kids if you need to go to the hospital? Making these plans ahead of time, and having them written down with contact information in your plan will make emergencies much less chaotic and insure that you prepared to handle them.
Likewise, keep an eye on long term planning whether it be preparing for retirement or long range goals for your health care, be sure to include long term planning goals and needs in your Life Plan and update it regularly.
Lastly, we all have hobbies and special interests. Develop a plan to help you incorporate those into your daily life and include an area related to any special projects that you may have. Whether it is writing a book, building a home, or learning to cook make a plan and set milestone goals to help you succeed.