A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Building Champions Experience. I spoke on the topic of “Making a Greater Difference Outside the Office.” I specifically focused on how the discipline of life planning had made that possible for me.
Note: I originally learned about life planning in 2001 from Daniel Harkavy. He is the CEO and founder of Building Champions and the author of Becoming a Coaching Leader: The Proven Strategy for Building Your Own Team of Champions.
In my speech, I outlined seven best practices as it relates to life planning. Whether you are just getting started with life planning or have been doing it for several years, you can improve the effectiveness of your life planning by employing these seven practices.
- Recruit a life plan accountability partner. If you want to finish your life plan and make sure you actually implement it, recruit an accountability partner (see Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10). The best option is a coach who is trained in life planning. The next best option is a close friend who learns along with you. Regardless, having an accountability partner is an important key to success.
- Regard your life plan as a work in process. Don’t shoot for perfect—that day will never come. Instead, complete your first draft and assume it is a living document. You will revise it as necessary, always fine-tuning, always tweaking.
- Recognize the season you are in. Are you in a spring, summer, fall, or winter season? It makes a difference. You may not be able to do what I do. I may not be able to do what you do. The critical thing is to each be doing what we should be doing in this season of our lives, focusing on what matters most now.
- Realign your priorities as needed. Earlier in my life, my children were a high priority. Friends were a lower priority. Community service wasn’t even on the list. Now that has changed. This is natural. You have to adjust your priorities as circumstances change. Be flexible—while remaining true to your values.
- Review your life plan weekly. It is not a document you finish and then file away. The key to implementation is visibility. You must review your life plan on a regular basis. Daily is too much for me. Monthly is not frequent enough. In my experience, weekly is just right. I review my life plan as part of my Weekly Review Process.
- Revise your life plan quarterly. Plans are only useful if they are relevant. Your circumstances can change quickly. Your action plans must shift accordingly. That’s why I recommend getting away for a half-day to day-and-a-half on a quarterly basis. Use part of this time to review your life plan and revise it. I refer to this as the Quarterly Review.
- Reserve time annually for your most important priorities. This has been a huge help to me, particularly as things got crazy. I reserve the week between Christmas an New Years to plan out the coming year. I don’t plan every detail—far from it. But I do put the big rocks in the jar first by scheduling my most important priorities. I have created a tool for this called the Annual Time Block.
Trust me. I don’t have life planning all figured out. I am still learning and adjusting. But after a decade as a practitioner, I wanted to share these “best practices” with you in the hope that they will benefit you on your journey to living with more intention.