This installment in my how to write series focuses on writing life plans and how to stick with it for longer than a month.
On the morning of my 35th birthday, I went for a run on the beach. The family was vacationing, and while they all snoozed on way-too-hard mattresses, I sweated out a night of drinking for a couple miles along the coast.
I started thinking about a life plan. I’d heard and read a great deal about them in the weeks leading up to the big 3-5 and thought “this will be the year I write down some attainable goals.” So dripping with sweat, I jotted down a couple goals and a rough life plan on a cocktail napkin at the hotel restaurant.
So here are a couple tips when mapping out your own one-year life plan.
Break The List Down Into Life Segments
My first attempt at a life goals list wasn’t bad, however, it was too much like a list for my ADHD mind to handle.
Let me explain – I’d review the list once every couple weeks, going top to bottom and charting my progress. Listed at the top were all my career goals, and more than a few were accomplished, but probably only because they were at the top of the list. I was unable to move further down the line because I’d get stuck on, and stress over, and unattained goal.
This year, I’m breaking the list down into different areas of my life but the personal development goals will get top billing along with the career goals. It will simply be a matter of turning the page from vertical to horizontal. I’ll work to reach the bottom of each category instead of just the bottom of the page.
Write a set of ATTAINABLE goals
The key word in that heading is ATTAINABLE. Often times, people will set goals that are absolutely unattainable, at least in their current situation. A good example, in my own list of goals, was the goal to perform stand-up comedy more than three nights a week.
At that point in my stand up experiment (calling it a career would be a stretch) my time was spent at open mics and a few paid slots when friends would put together their own shows. I was NOWHERE NEAR READY to perform at major comedy clubs. It’s the equivalent of learning to swim and expecting to be on the US Olympic team the following summer.
I’ll chalk that goal up to bravado, pending dehydration and the unwillingness to realize my own limits. This year, the goals will be attainable and no asinine.
Make Time & Don’t Break Time
Setting goals is all well and good but if you don’t set aside the time to attain those goals, it’s just a piece of paper listing some shit you kind-of wanna do maybe if there’s time.
I found life to ruin much easier on a schedule. Sure, the schedule gets disrupted often, especially in the form of two kids shoving Legos and wooden baking sheets into my face demanding to build and play kitchen, but a general outline of my day with specific time slots designated for each goal keeps me on track.
Learning to play chess. A bold and easily attainable goal and one I’ve wanted to accomplish for years. It made the final list. In 365 days I took exactly ZERO steps towards that goal. On our monthly excursion to the comic book store, the Kid spied a chess set with Marvel figures as chess pieces. He demanded to know the name of each character. I fulfilled his request, and that’s about as close as I got to a chess board in a year.
The chess playing goal goes back on the sheet this year along with a specific time and day, even if it’s just once a week, to learn the game. By end of the summer, I want to know enough to stop calling the pieces “horsies and castles.”
I’ll make the time for each goal (either a daily, weekly, or monthly chunk of time) and hold myself accountable should I miss that time and bail on it for any other lame reason.
Since I don’t necessarily always trust myself to hold myself accountable, this year, I’m going to try a different approach and it’s….
Find An Accountability Partner
This idea was mentioned in the Self Made Man podcast during an interview with David Osborn. Osborn is an entrepreneur who’s risen from almost nothing to become one of the largest franchise owners in Keller Williams real estate.
Osborn mentioned one of the ways he stays on track with his goals is through an accountability partner. This isn’t a close friend or a relative but a personal acquaintance that is also striving towards a certain set of goals. Each week, Osborn and his partner hop on the phone to specifically discuss one another’s goals and hold each other accountable for not doing enough to attain each goal or maybe concentrating too heavily on a specific goal and not devoting enough time to the other goals.
It’s easier to work towards goals when you’ve got to hop on the phone each week and get called out for not getting your shit done.
I’m currently searching for an accountability partner. Right now, I’m using my 2-year-old as my accountability partner but she’s not really the motivating type and keeps asking if I wouldn’t rather play jungle adventure. Also, her one life goal is “more desserts during the day” and she crushed that goal months ago.
Review The Goals Daily
THIS IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT! Every day, look at your list of goals. Every day. No excuses. What did you do right? What did you do wrong? Adjust accordingly. If you don’t check the goals each day, and chart your progress toward those goals, the entire plan is pointless.
Now that you’ve got the idea, go out and create your own life plan. Meet me back here in one year.
Thanks for reading! If you dug this article, please take a second to like, comment, or share this with friends or random strangers. If you’re new to the website, please check out my archives, and take a second to follow me on FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM or TUMBLR.