Rohn: How to Create a Master Plan for Your Life
Wouldn’t you prefer a life of productivity rather than a life of endless tasks with little accomplishment? Of course! When you carefully set your goals and keep them at the forefront of your mind, you can work smarter instead of longer. You’ll know that a life worth living comes from a life of balance.
Ambitious people know that each step toward their goals is not a singular step. Each discipline is not a singular discipline. Each project is not a singular project. They see everything they do—and every discipline they adhere to—as a link in the chain of events and actions that will lead them to their final destination. Every action and every discipline achieved today is a link in the chain. Every action and every discipline achieved tomorrow is a link. And every action and every discipline achieved in the more distant future is also a link.
Your direction, activities and disciplines all make up crucial links in your chain of success. When you can see that one thing affects everything else, when you come to realize that every discipline affects every discipline, when you look at your future as a chain that needs strong links all along the way… then you’ll build a reservoir of strength and courage that will serve you will during the down times.
When you can see that every link in the chain will eventually lead you to the things you want most out of life and to the person you want to become, then you won’t grow discouraged, fearful or impatient with today. When you can see where you’re going through visual chain thinking, even on the toughest days, you’ll keep moving toward your goals because you know where you’re going.
Building your visual chain of thought begins when you have well-defined plans for your career, your family activities, your investments and your health. Your plans and goals are your visual chain. You know where you’re going before you get there.
It’s ironic how we all understand the importance of mapping out a strategy for a football game or a basketball game. Not one professional team in the world begins a game without a game plan. But few of us take the time to map out such a strategy for our lives.
It’s so important to make this sort of plan. Here’s the first rule for your game plan of life: Don’t begin the activities of your day until you know exactly what you plan to accomplish. Don’t start your day until you have it planned. Do this every day. I know all this writing takes time and a disciplined effort. Remember, however, that reaching your goals is the fruitful result of discipline, not merely hope.
Once you’ve mastered the art of planning your day, you’re ready for the next level. Don’t begin the activities of your week until you know exactly what you plan to accomplish. Don’t start your week until you have it planned.
Just imagine what life would be like if you took time out every Sunday to plan your week. Come Friday, you wouldn’t be saying, “Boy, did this week fly by. Where did it go? What did I do?” No, if you plan your week before you start it, you’ll know exactly what you want to do, what you want to accomplish and what you need to work on. If you learn to plan your days as part of your overall game plan for the week, the parts will fit much better. Your days will be better. You will be more effective. You’ll be working smarter, not harder.
By developing and following your game plan, your days, weeks and months all become part of a larger plan, a bigger design you develop, a long-term view of your life, a visual chain. You’ll start gaining a greater perspective of it all… because you are planning.
If visually seeing your future is new to you, if you’ve never developed a game plan before, let me offer a few tips. There are two things you need to understand before you create a game plan.
Here’s how you do it. Game plans work best on graph paper. Take a sheet of graph paper and make vertical columns corresponding to the number of days this plan is to cover. Then on the left-hand side of the paper, write the heading “Activities.” Under this heading, list all the activities to be accomplished within your time frame.
For example, you’ve got one week to finalize a marketing plan. It’s an overwhelming amount of work to complete, but it’s got to be done. So break it down piece by piece. The best way to start is by listing all of the individual components on the left-hand side of the page. Some of these things will need to be completed before others can be started. You need to obtain your market research results before you can determine your target market. You need to know your target market before you can develop your marketing strategy. You need to have your marketing strategy before you can create a budget for collateral materials, and so on.
Life Planning Step Two: Document Your Desires
Once you know what you want out of life, you should document your desires. Often, writing down information solidifies it and makes it more real. When you have the written list of your desires, review it to ensure it is comprehensive and covers all the key areas of your life. You can use this list as motivation and as a way to stay on track. Documenting your desires also allows you to set goals based upon what you want out of life.
Using your list of desires, determine what your goals are for life. These goals should be realistic, measurable and achievable. It is important to remember that the goals of your life plan should be a reflection of what you want out of life. This list is not to determine how other people view you or be reflective of the goals other people have set for your life. The goals must be reflective of you as an individual.
- Your Career: What is your chosen career path? What changes are necessary in order to be able to work in your chosen field? If more schooling is necessary your goals should include ways to pay for your education and indicate how expenses will be paid while you are pursuing your education.
- Your Social Life: Is your social life reflective of your goals? Determine what is missing from your social relationships and work toward resolving those issues. This may mean finding a new circle of friends that have interests similar to yours. This may also mean ending negative relationships that hurt you more than they help you.
- Your Finances: What is your goal for your financial status? For many individuals, getting out of debt and saving for retirement are great places to start. Your goals may be different, such as saving for a vacation or building a fund to buy a work of art.
Life Planning Step Four: Create a Plan to Meet Your Goals
Now that your goals are documented, you must create a plan to meet those goals. Start by prioritizing your goals. Some goals will be dependent on completing other goals. Once they are prioritized, determine what is necessary in order to achieve those goals. Financial goals should have dollar amounts assigned to each of them. Other goals should have measurable standards. For example, social goals may include meeting up with friends on a regular basis.
Next, determine what is necessary in order to achieve each goal. Adjustments to your lifestyle may be necessary in order to accomplish your goals and the adjustment process may cause some discomfort. For financial goals, you may need to increase your income or decrease your expenses in order to achieve your savings goals. To stay on track, remind yourself of the end result you are working towards – a completely fulfilling life.