Living by our own design on purpose and with meaning is living with intention. Living by default is living our lives in response to others in a reactive mode and lacking true intent, which can leave us feeling drained and frustrated. The new year brings an opportunity to turn a fresh, new page and reclaim our lives in the active writing of a life plan. To prepare for 2018, grab a journal and follow these 10 simple, yet powerful steps to create a written life plan.
1. Decide how we want to be remembered. When we imagine the end of our lives, how is it that we want to be remembered? How does our life today compare to the answers to the previous question? Is there a gap to be addressed? Stephen Covey supports this step in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, when he advocates to “begin with the end in mind.”
2. Find what matters most. List six priorities and use them as guiding principles. These principles can be used to weigh choices of time, energy, and resources, enabling us to stay focused. When difficult decisions come along, these principles give us a framework for decisions as to what activities or relationships fall in or out of the life plan.
3. Determine how to get from the present to the goal. Create goals and written action steps toward goals. Develop a motivating mantra to keep the goal vivid on a daily basis. Use the practice of gratitude to replace thoughts of lack that sabotage your efforts.
4. Create an account for each key relationship or priority in life. These “life accounts” require “deposits” of time to keep them flourishing. Feed and water those priorities daily; they may compete with each other for attention. By listing them on paper, we can achieve the balance desired.
5. Visioneer. Visioneering is the process of imagining what life will look like in five or 10 years. Propel forward mentally by imagining and engineering a bright and meaningful future.
6. Examine fears, blocks and self-limiting beliefs. Recognize fear and beliefs that restrict potential. “You’ll see it when you believe it,” the inversion of a common saying coined by the late self-help guru Wayne Dyer, gives us a new perspective for creating a life of our dreams. Expose fears or limiting beliefs to the light and create greater awareness. Take liberties to envision the best. Actively work from your desire.
7. Re-energize. Become intimately knowledgeable about how our energy is replenished. Self-care is not selfish. Everyone needs to replenish energy through rest, recreation, special moments, favorite hobbies and time alone. Optimal performance requires optimal self-care.
8. Determine boundaries. Feeling particularly resentful, vulnerable or out of control in an area of life is usually an indication that some boundaries need to be set. Examine opportunities to reclaim power by creating boundaries to enact positive changes that support our desired life.
9. Create a visual aid. Vision boards and mind maps are visual representations of our intentions. For those that wish to avoid clutter, create the art, and then take a photo of it to keep as a computer screensaver and discard the board or map.
10. Journal to track progress. Keep writing! Track progress toward goals, celebrating every step. Refer to your life accounts and investments, note gratitude, complete actions and record setbacks. Keep intentions close at hand and on top of our mind.
Life is a gift to be valued and treasured, nurtured and noted. The journey is as important as the destination. Create a life plan that supports fulfillment while actively reducing frustration. Joy is contained in these minutes, hours, days and years.
Kim Perone is a certified life coach and partner at Inspired Life Coaching, in Burnt Hills, and co-founder of the Center for Clarity, Compassion & Contentment. She will lead a Live by Design (Not Default) workshop from noon to 3 p.m., Jan. 6, 2018. For more information, call 518-301-3593 or visit Center4C.com.