7 Ways a Life Plan Is Like a GPS System

Several months ago, I published an ebook called Creating Your Personal Life Plan. I made it available as a free PDF download for readers who subscribed to my blog via email. So far more than 30,000 people have done so.

Illustration of a Stylized GPS Device - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Pleasureofart, Image #16270870

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Pleasureofar

However, I have had numerous requests to make the book available in Kindle, Nook, and iBook formats. Unfortunately, the original landscape cover didn’t convert well to portrait. This has required me to reformat the ebook.

As a result, I designed several new covers and then polled my readers. I went through three rounds of covers (1, 2, and 3). Over 4,000 of my readers voted. They were very passionate about which option they preferred and why.

Ultimately, the GPS cover won, taking 56 percent of the final vote. Those that objected to the GPS cover said that they didn’t think that a GPS device was a good metaphor for life planning.

No metaphor is perfect, of course. They all break down at some point. But, I actually think a GPS system works pretty well. Here are seven ways it corresponds to a life plan.

  1. A GPS requires you to input your destination. Nothing happens until you decide where you want to go. The same is true of a life plan. It forces you to determine the outcomes in each of your major life categories. This is the first section in the life plan.
  2. A GPS gets you to your destination faster with less hassle. I am directionally-challenged. Without technical help, I get lost quickly. My TomTom Navigation System gets me to my destination without the stress of trying to figure it out on my own. The same is true of a life plan.
  3. A GPS gives you constant feedback on your progress. I always know the street I am on, how far I must travel to the next turn, and how far to my ultimate destination. A life plan is similar. It tells me where I am in relation to where I want to go. It provides the context and keeps me oriented.
  4. A GPS helps you get back on track when you get off. Even with a GPS I take the occasional wrong turn. The system never chides me. It simply tells me what I need to do to get back on track. Same with a life plan. It gives me a reference point, so I know how to get to my destination.
  5. A GPS re-routes you around roadblocks. It is inevitable that you will encounter obstacles on the way to your destination. A good GPS is able to adjust on the fly and recalculate the route. The same is true of a life plan. It provides the flexibility to overcome obstacles and keep moving forward.
  6. A GPS is not always accurate. This is not surprising. It’s a challenge for GPS databases to keep up with all the changes: new roads, closed roads, traffic accidents, etc. The same is true of your life plan. You won’t always get it right. You will have to adjust as you encounter reality. A life plan gives you a framework for doing that.
  7. A GPS requires an investment. I used to pay $12.99 a day for the Hertz Never Lost system on my rental car. It was worth every penny. However, I finally wised up and bought the TomTom app for my iPhone. It was $49.99. It paid for itself quickly. A life plan is similar. It does require an upfront investment of time. But the rewards are well-worth it.

Again, the metaphor is not perfect. It breaks down at several points. But all in all, I think works pretty well. It does its job as a metaphor.

By the way, I am still working on the revised version of the e-book. I have decided to revise some of the content as well as the cover. Hopefully, the new edition will be available in the next few weeks. I will automatically notify everyone who downloaded the first edition.

Question: How else do you think a life plan is like a GPS? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Chad Jackson

    Really like the analogy!  You could also put in the roads change every once in a while and you have to update your GPS with new maps.  Same thing you have to do with your Life Plan, you have to update it. 

    You could also use the “Lost satellite” reception that we get every once in a while and cannot get a signal.  We have no idea where we are and where we are going without the satellite reception.  God is like the satellite reception and if we lose the reception to our satellite, we will be “lost.”  We can also get lost with our GPS even if we put the right coordinates in. We have to confirm our path.
    Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=609963555 Nancy Watta

    I am in the middle of preparing a talk for an on campus group of University students and decided to review your online Life Plan instead of pulling out my copy. Instead I found myself on this page. My topic for the students is, “Finding Strength for the Journey.” As I read through the GPS points, I believe this speaks clearly to today’s generation and our culture in general. As Christians our strength is found in God, but we also need practical advice and direction to survive on the journey. We serve a practical God who desires us to be good stewards of our time. Simply stated; I like the GPS terminology you are using.

  • susan t

    this is awesome!  I use the analogy of a flight plan with my clients – somewhat flexible in journey but with an end destination firmly in sight.
    I am also talking a lot about being DELIBERATE for the same reason – weighing up options, making an informed choice and then moving forward with purpose.

    Thanks for your amazing ideas!

  • http://the123blog.com Marcia (123blog)

    A strange consequence of reading this post – I now think I need to get with the 21st century and buy myself a GPS :) I’ve always thought they’re for lazy people! I know, I know, but I’ve said, “I have a map book, what do I need a GPS for?” :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Once you try one, you’ll never go back. It takes 90% of the stress out of travel!

  • http://the123blog.com Marcia (123blog)

    PS I didn’t vote for the GPS one but I would get anything you put out!

  • Anne Marie Gazzolo

    Directionally-challenged – I love that! I am so very much that. If anyone tells me, go a little south of Main, I say what’s that? I’m much better if someone tells me to turn left at the gas station. That I can figure out. :) I look forward to the next version of the life plan book and especially to Platform book. Thanks for all these great posts!

    God bless, Anne Marie :)

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Love the concept of a life plan! I started working on my plan over 18 months ago, and have tweaked it almost every week.  I have such a stronger sense of purpose with it than ever before.  Thanks for the input into my life here!

    I just wish my life plan would come with that cool voice with the British accent…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’d like to have that voice for my life plan, too!

  • Laura Krokos

    Great analogy.
    Another comparison is that it helps you know what to say no to. If you have your directions set before you, your not going to take a different way thinking perhaps it’s a better route.

    a href=”http://beholdingglory.com”>Beholding Glory

  • jeff @ RealityCheck

    A lot of times in life, the only time we use our GPS is when we are going to a new destination or we get it out when we are lost in direction.  The same is true sometimes in our faith in Jesus, the only time we ask for God’s help is when we feel lost, hopeless or are seeking a new career move or moving to a new location.

    What if we hooked up our Spiritual GPS daily, asking God to lead our direction instead of us going in the way we think is best?  Food for thought for me daily – Am I letting God be my GPS?

    Jeff Shicks

  • Pingback: Review of 2012 – 7 Ways NLP is Like a GPS (Day 7/12) | GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN

  • Firefishe

    A GPS Navigation System uses satellites in orbit to triangulate on your location upon the Earth.  Triangulating one’s own position in life is equally important.

    As an example–perhaps a parable, really–let’s say you were teleported instantly to some location on Earth where you didn’t know your location.  You have a GPS with a mapping system in your pocket, say a Garmin Dakota 20 ;-), and one set of spare batteries.  It’s small, powerful, and has a built-in compass and barometer.  (Knowing the weather and where North is are very important in this type of situation.)

    In this life scenario, you must first find out your physical location–an easy task with a GPS unit with maps, and most come with a basic world map.  That middle school geography class sure came in handy, didn’t it!

    Once you know your physical location, you can pretty much figure out where you need to go from there.  Dealing with “local matters” is left up to you, but at least you have the tools to start, and can track your progress along the way.  You can also backtrack and see where you’ve been.

    All GPS’s with maps–at least the handheld kind–usually have these kind of features.  The Human Mind and Spirit also have similiar powers–and these help you locate where you are, and find your direction in Life.

    One may not be able to know all things, but we can, at the very least, deal with the small “local” things, one at a time, then go on to the larger “trips.”

    Using our Spirit, we find meaning, as well.  And that, to me, is jsut about as good as it gets!

    Warmest Regards,
    Stephen
    Missouri, USA

  • http://twitter.com/andrewroyster Andrew Royster

    Great metaphor. I really enjoyed podcast #32 and the quote about GPS gets its signal from above.  I think the GPS metaphor is great.  Thanks for sharing this!

  • Shamrocks4kids

    One similarity between the Life Plan and GPS, is that they both tell us where we do not want to go!