Unresolved for 2012: Using a Life Plan Instead

I gave up on resolutions a few years ago. I’d look up at those lofty goals, get excited for a week at most, and then promptly procrastinate my way through the year. The resolution train got me nowhere.

That’s where a life plan comes in. Now, “life plan” and “resolution” may sound dangerously similar, but it’s all about the mindset. Instead of considering big projects for the year or major changes to accomplish in twelve months, a life plan breaks things down into manageable chunks. It shows just how much of a work in progress you are. Plus, you don’t ignore it after you make it—you keep at it.

Here’s the life plan model that works for me:

First, jump on Evernote or something else that has multi-platform support. You need a life plan you can access anywhere. If you write it in a notebook, you’ll probably forget about it.

Next, establish several categories that you’d like to focus on. I broke my life plan into God, Marriage, Family, Outreach, Health, Time Management, Skills Development, Finances, and Future. Basically, I just stole some of that from the fine folks at 3DM, and the categories cover most of what I need. But pick whatever makes sense for where you are in life.

Under each category, establish small improvements from where you are. This is the main part. Pray about where you’re falling short, and then aim for a slight bump that’s concrete. If you write “Love my wife more,” you haven’t really helped yourself improve. But if you write “Go on a date once per week,” you’ve got something to hang on to. Also, you may simply want to maintain what you’re doing. And that works, too.

Mine looks something like this (note: I’m still working on some of these):

God

  • Pray at least 30 minutes per day.
  • Read the Bible each day.
Outreach
  • Volunteer once per month (with my family if possible).
  • Frequent the same local businesses each week.
Time Management
  • Check my email no more than 3 times per day.
  • Access Facebook in the mornings only.

After you’ve written a few points under each category, share your list. If you’re married, email it to your husband or wife. If not, then ask a friend. You need someone who can help you keep focused.

When working through your life plan, make sure that you address one point at a time. Keep it simple, and don’t try to tackle everything in one massive life renovation. God improves us gradually throughout our lives—so, work with Him in whatever He’s doing. A life plan really depends on prayer and keeping a God rhythm going.

And once you’ve got the list ready, set a calendar reminder to look at it at least once every three months. I prefer once per month, but go with what works. When I review, I make some tweaks and decide what area to look at next.

Yes, I know this look suspiciously like goal setting, but—as I said—the biggest difference is constant evaluation and incremental improvement. Don’t waste your resolutions on grandiose aspirations. Make each step a bite-sized morsel—of salad, of course.

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