On Monday, I blogged about taking time out to reflect on the year gone past, and to start 2012 by asking the right questions. Today, I will share with you the second thing I think you should do as you launch into the new year:
Make a plan.
That’s it. Simple. Have a plan, and start working the plan. Of course, there are many ways to go about doing this, but here is my own simple 3-step process:
1) Start by creating a “Life Plan”
I first learnt about life planning many years ago from Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and as I have used the process in some shape or form ever since, it has made all the difference.
So, why do you need a life plan? Three reasons:
- It will give you clarity about where your life is headed.
- It will keep you in balance when things get crazy.
- It will give you peace of mind, knowing you are are addressing those aspects of your life that matter most.
Sadly however, very few people I’ve met have a plan for their life. They plan their career, their wedding, even their holidays. But it never occurs to them to plan their life.
As Michael Hyatt writes, “Most are passive spectators, watching their lives unfold, one day at a time. They are reactive rather than proactive. I believe that this is why so many people end up discouraged, disillusioned, and wondering what went wrong. They arrived at the wrong destination.”
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can live your life on purpose by creating your own personal life plan. If you have no idea what a life plan is, or where to start, check out these links:
2) Write Your Bucket List
When I was in Grade 8, my Life-Skills teacher told the class to write a list of 101 Things To Do Before You Die, and that’s exactly what I did. Today, 17 years later (yikes!), I still have that original list. If you’re interested check it out here.
To date I have completed 56 of the 101 items on my bucket list, which has been no easy feat.
Over the years this list has stopped me from becoming passive, apathetic or lazy. It has inspired me to take risks, step out of my comfort zone, and pursue adventures and challenges I could have easily made excuses for. Not only that, but is has been a whole lot of fun! Sometimes I think we take ourselves and life too seriously, and having a few big-hairy-audacious-goals in front of you forces you to let loose and live a little.
So, what’s on your bucket list? And what are you waiting for?
3) Write Down Your Annual Goals
The last step is to look at the year ahead and, with your Life Plan and your Bucket List in hand, to write down a short list of goals, wishes, and dreams for 2012. Don’t overshoot – everything on the list must be achievable within the year – but also be bold and don’t sell yourself short.
My annual goals list usually has between 15 and 25 goals on it, and I try to include a few Bucket List items in there every year. It includes financial goals, goals for my marriage and my relationships, goals for my health and fitness, work goals, fun goals, and goals for my spiritual growth.
Finally, make sure you display your Annual Goals List somewhere where you’re likely to see it everyday. Mine is stuck up on the inside of my cupboard, as a daily reminder to me.
While steps 1 and 2 do take some time (I suggest trying to get away for an entire day), it is well worth the effort. Once you have your Life Plan and Bucket List in place, it becomes a quick and easy process of reviewing them every year, and writing down your annual goals.