How to Plan Your Life
Some people value spontaneity. Others crave structure. Still, it would help if you would go through life with direction, and with goals. Goals help in guiding your choices. Purpose underlines everything you do.
So you’re in a new stage in your life. Either you’ve graduated from high school or college, decided to move on from a suffocating job, or just basically in a new stage in your life. You want to plan out the steps you want to take now, and you want to make the best choices that life has to offer.
Get a pen and paper; we have lots of writing to do.
On that piece of paper, put a heading in the center: Mission/Vision.
Take some time to think about this. Take hours. Days. Weeks. It doesn’t matter, but give yourself a deadline. When you have thought it over, write down what you would want to achieve by the end of your life. What do you want to build your life around? Is it to attain certain educational milestones? Earn a certain amount of money? Be a philanthropist? State it under your Mission/Vision. This will be the center theme of your life. You can change it any time you want, but the entire list will be built around this.
Under Mission/Vision, divide the paper into two equal halves. One side will go to Short-term Goals. The other side will go to Long-term Goals.
Under the Short-term Goals, write down everything you want to get done within five years. Under Long-term Goals, write down the milestones you want throughout your life.
In the Short-term Goals, assign the deadlines by which you want these goals done. In the Long-term Goals, assign your age by which you would want to achieve these milestones.
Now rewrite the entire list in chronological order, then examine your list. Commit to memory your Short-term Goals, and the Long-term Goals you have for this year. If you have trouble remembering your list, use a calendar. A paper one will do, but you can also use a computer program if you have one, or an application in whatever handheld gadget you have (a PDA or cellular phone with reminder or calendar applications would do fine).
The purpose of this exercise is for you to have a visual representation of your goals. Having a visual representation of your goals heightens the chances that you will commit to seeing them done. Knowing that you have concretized your plans gives you more resolution to stick to these.
But even if you have your plans on paper, you will need to remember that you have to be flexible. Life is fluid, and seldom goes according to plan. But if you really want to reach your goals, despite the shifts in life, you will always revert to your “blueprint” (the paper outline you just made).
Your Mission/Vision, as said earlier, will be the theme driving your choices. This will be the anchor when storms rock your life’s boat. The chain links of your anchor will be your personal values, principles, and your growth in character.
It would help if you would keep a diary to outline the life lessons you’ve learned, and your driving values and principles. When faced with dilemmas, revert to these. It may not make the problems go away, but they will help in making decisions, especially if these decisions tempt you to compromise.
Sail through the sea of life, and remember, you have an anchor when storms come your way.