LifestyleRetirement & Pensions

Transformational Life Planning

By July 21, 2020 No Comments

Executive leaders are generally a dedicated bunch, who all too often not only give their heart and soul, but give their lives to their organisations. They work long hours, and frequently sacrifice personal and even family time for their work.

Most of us know how easy it is to get caught up in the busyness of working life, spending our time moving from one ‘urgent’ task to the next. The trouble is, if we’re not careful, one day we might wake up and suddenly realise that amongst that busyness, we didn’t make enough time for the things that really mattered to us most. In the worst case scenario we may have serious regrets, which could include not spending enough time with our spouse, or our children, or simply not having spent enough time enjoying life and doing the things we really love. Unfortunately, if this realisation comes too late, nothing can be done to get those years back.

It is for this reason that I recommend that all executive leaders take the time to reflect on their personal priorities in the here and now, and create a ‘transformational life plan’. This is an action plan that enables executives to consciously focus more time and energy on the things that matter most to them, in order to avoid regrets later.

A transformational life plan will allow you to consider the huge question – ‘what do you want to do with the rest of your life?’ – by gradually narrowing the focus down to much more manageable and practical questions, such as, ‘what is important to you?’, ‘what are you going to do with your time?’ and ‘how are you going to spend your days?’

Transformational life planning is the process of charting a course from where you are today, to where you want to go – and then taking action.

Reflect on what is important to you

Thinking, planning and visualisation help bring clarity by forcing you to determine concise end goals. In his book, The Success Principles[1], Jack Canfield writes: “If you get clear on the what, the how will be taken care of.” In other words, knowing your end goal is of utmost importance in any endeavour. However, a life plan is far more than just a series of goals with dates by which to achieve them. It is about creating a life blueprint and living life by design, or what I call “on purpose”.

So how do you get started?

This is not a task you can do in just 30 minutes. You need to put a significant amount of time aside; a few days if you can. Retreat to a place where you feel relaxed, and creative – ideally where you will have no distractions – and get started.

Identifying your priorities is crucial if you are to experience contentment and satisfaction in your life, so take some time to consider what your personal priorities are. Examples of what to put on your list can include the following:

·         Spouse ·         Children
·         Parents ·         Extended family
·         Health ·         Fitness (specific activities)
·         Friends ·         Socialising
·         Hobbies (be specific) ·         Financial luxury (material)
·         Travel and holidays ·         Work/business
·         Education ·         Community
·         Spiritual/faith ·         Money (financial freedom and security)

Next, narrow your list down to the top five – or a maximum of six – things that are most important to you, and then put these into priority order, (unfortunately, you cannot have it all or do it all; there just is not enough time, and if you try it often results in frustration).

Having this priority list will help you to do what is important to you. It will also help you when faced with decisions; to say ‘yes’ to the things that are important to you, and ‘no’ to things that are not-so (or not-at-all) important. And the “urgent but less important” things? Well, they can either wait, or be eliminated from your schedule altogether. This exercise will give you clarity about what you want and, perhaps more importantly, what you don’t want.

Once you have your shortened priority list, rate each out of ten for the success you are having in this area at this moment in time. Remember, only when you know your starting point will you know if you’re making progress. Perhaps right now you are not allocating enough time to certain priorities, but you can fix that. Start to consider what you can do to improve your ‘score’ in each of your priority areas.

For example, if one of your priorities is your health, and you are currently at a ‘5’, consider what you could do to increase your score. This might include; putting 45 minutes aside to exercise daily (1 point); cutting down on takeaways and putting time aside in your day to make a healthy evening meal (1 point); getting more sleep by going to bed before 11pm (1 point). Achieve these goals and your ‘5’ will hopefully become an ‘8’ within a year.

By now you will have four to six things that are important to you and that you have prioritised, rated, and allocated time in your diary to improve on. This alone will create an enormous sense of focus and relief.

Create a goal timeline

Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach®, came up with the following question:

“If {you}… were looking back over the previous years, what has to have happened over the years for you to feel happy about your progress?”

The principle here is to take yourself forward at least three years and then to look back to consider what you have done during that time to be really happy about your progress. What has been your story? Then you extend this for the longer term of three to 25 years. Working back like this allows you to formulate a purposeful life plan to decide what you want to do.

You should have laser-focused goals for what you need to achieve over the next 12 months and then from one to three years. Beyond that, you should have ‘someday’ goals (or perhaps these should be called ‘guesses’) and objectives – but unexpected life events could affect these, of course, so you need to be flexible.

Once you have your short-term, medium-term and ‘someday’ goals mapped out, consider what you need to do to take action and change habits to actualise these goals.

What makes your life plan transformational is taking real, tangible, positive steps towards creating the life you want.

Get yourself an ‘accountability coach’

Make sure you share your goals and plans with someone who can hold you accountable, otherwise it is all too easy to put them on the shelf for them to gather dust. An accountability coach can be a professional, a friend, a sibling, or your spouse. Whoever it is, they need to hold you to account and review your progress. They should be someone who you respect, and someone who you do not wish to let down.

Conclusion

In conclusion, once your transformational life-planning process is complete you should have; reflected upon what you consider to be the most important areas in your life, and placed them in order of priority; have created a goal timeline of what you need to do over a one to three-year period, and “someday” thereafter; and put together a list of actions that you need to take, and habits you need to adopt or change to bring you closer to living the life you want to live – not just tomorrow but today also.

I wish the best of luck to you on your transformational life-planning journey.

 

For professional support in putting together your transformational life-plan, you can contact Nick Platt through Henwood Court, Chartered Financial Planners.

Henwood Court can help you to create your plan, and build the financial infrastructure required for you to afford the life you want. They can also hold you accountable for the things you have said you are going to do, encouraging action, and making your plan transformational.

 

Nicholas Platt: @henwoodcourt

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Henwood Court: www.henwoodcourt.co.uk

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[1] HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2005