How to Make a Life Plan
Your interview is going great, you have a good rapport with the panel interviewing you and you have been rocking the answers to their questions. Then they ask you “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. In your head you are thinking “Gosh, I don’t know, being employed would be good” Making a life plan can give you direction so you don’t stumble in your interview, but it can also give you a sense of purpose. It will help in your interview but it will also help in the rest of your life. How are you going to get where you are going if you don’t even know where that is?
Writing a life plan is not as hard as it sounds, in fact you can probably have a pretty good outline in an afternoon. There is a free template below that you can use to create your own life plan. I won’t even ask for your email address.
Get your free life plan template here My Life Plan
Here are some things you will need before you get started.
- Your spouse. If your plan involves continuing your marital relationship, you will probably want to involve your spouse in your plan.
- A way to record it. Anything from a pen and paper to a computer will work. This is something that you will want to keep referring back to, so keep it somewhere you can find it again.
- Quiet time. Writing a life plan is not something to be taken lightly, take the landline off the hook, turn off your cell phone and your computer. If you have kids or pets, find a sitter for them so you aren’t distracted.
Now that you are properly equipped, let’s get into the meat of making a life plan. Your plan should include three basic areas. Personal, professional and Spiritual. Again, we have to know where we are trying to get before we can make a plan to get there, so in this section, write down any goals you may have in each category. Dream big, we can do some triage later, just consider this a massive brainstorming session. If you are having trouble getting your brain working, check out The One Question You Should Ask Yourself to give your brain a boost.
This is where you are going to put things like your marriage, your family, and your hobbies. Maybe you want to have a date night with your spouse every week and go on a long weekend two times a year. Write it down. Maybe your goal is to increase your bowling average by 5 pins this season. Write it down. Having babies, teaching babies, hobbies, marriage, keeping the house cleaner, vacations all of these things would fall under the Personal category.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Where do you want your job to take you? This category is all about work, be it side jobs, new businesses, getting hired on with your favorite company, or moving up in your current company. All of these things go in the Professional category.
* Quick note: I also usually put any large purchases or debt payoff in this category because you generally need some sort of income to accomplish those goals.
This one is pretty self-explanatory but shouldn’t be discounted. Your spirituality brings you balance. Going to church/temple more, reading more about your religion, taking classes about your religion or going on a religious holiday would all come under this heading.
Triage for Your Goals
Now you have your goals. If you are like most people, you probably need to tame your list a little bit. For instance, it is probably impossible for me to be a forensic anthropologist, a marine biologist, the next Indian Jones, and a world class show jumper. (Ya know, since I am 40, and at least 3 of those require about 8 years of education) So here are a few tips for winnowing down your list a little bit.
- Be realistic. That doesn’t mean you should keep your giant scary dreams off of your list, but if you are like me your list might be too long to be realistically realized in the span of your lifetime. If you are 40 and have “be a linebacker for the NY Giants” on your list, that probably isn’t realistic.
- Assign Priority. This is the hardest part of this whole process. Where do your priorities lie? Label your goals from 1-5 with 1 being things you want the most or the most quickly, and 5 being the things you want the least. If you really want to have a baby in the next 5 years, give that a 1, if you are interested in it but not quite sure you are ready for it, maybe a 4 or 5 is more appropriate.
Putting Your Life Plan Together
Now we have a good list of things you want to do in your life and we know what you want to accomplish first.
If something on your list is a 4 or a 5, set it aside for now, you can only tackle so much at once so keep these things with your life plan to take a look at a later date. Take your 1’s, 2’s and 3’s and group them together by number under each heading, Personal, Professional and Spiritual. * This is where my template starts.
Now we are getting somewhere! Under each goal that you have set you will need to do three things.
- Set a time frame. Make it reasonable, attainable and maybe just a little tight if possible. If you are working on baby making, anything less than 9 months isn’t possible, but if you are writing a novel, 6 months might be a good tight timeline. You want the timeline to be attainable, but not so long that you get lackadaisical about it.
- Determine Your Resources. Determine if there are any outside resources to help you reach your goal. This would include books, websites, podcasts and short classes. If you need to finish a degree to get you to your goal, that would be a step, but if you are trying to get out of debt a book on debt reduction would be a resource.
- Set steps to get you there. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time and that is how you will have to think to achieve your goals. Break each goal down into small steps and list them out in outline form. (if you are using my template and need more lines, just highlight, right-click and insert.) Step A should be the first little baby step you need to achieve to get on your way to achieving your goal, step B the next step and so on. So if your goal is to be debt-free in five years step A might be list your debts, step B might be pay off the smallest debt first, then next smallest etc.
Now that we have done the hard part of your life plan, now for the fun part. Determine how you want to celebrate each step of your plan. Small wins are incredibly important to keeping you going, so make sure you give yourself something when you accomplish one of your steps. I think this step is so important I wrote an entire post about it! It doesn’t matter if you chose to take yourself out for ice cream, have a special dinner or take a mini vacation, just make sure you are acknowledging your accomplishments.
One more time, grab your life plan template here.