Do You Have a Life Plan?
During the course of our daily lives, we make plans. We make plans for dinner, for trips to the grocery store, and for cleaning our house. We also make long-term plans for our education, our finances, our businesses, and our vacations.
However, despite all the planning that we do very few of us actually make a life plan and this is a critical oversight as a life plan would encompass all those areas as well as our self-development, personal relationships and happiness.
We all have the capacity for happiness and success in every area of our lives including our personal development, our relationships, and our professional lives, but happiness and success do not just happen. We must actively seek them out and set in motion plans and actions that will make them not only possible but probable.
That is why you need a life plan, but actually creating one takes time and thought -- something so many of us have little to spare. However, don't begrudge the time you could spend on a life plan because in the end that time is a very good investment that will help you save time and stress once you have your life plan fully developed. And isn't anything that can help you achieve happiness and success a worthwhile investment of your time and energy?
Where You Are Now
Before you can begin crafting your life plan you must evaluate your current status. Reflect on the realities of your life including your commitments, finances, and dreams. What about your life makes you happy and what makes you unhappy?
Where are you now in terms of work, recreation, relationships, finances, and anything else you consider important. For example, I consider it important that my life contributes to the greater good and I have friends who consider the long-term impact of their life is an important measure.
Rate each of these areas with a letter grade with "A" of course being the highest score for the best possible life. Then calculate your overall life grade. Obviously if you have a 4.0 then your life is on track, but anything less means there are some areas you will need to work on.
It is important to identify the areas of your life that you consider successful or at least on track to success as well as the areas that you would like to improve.
Let Your Dreams Out
A big part of creating your life plan is letting yourself dream of what your ideal life would include in all the key areas you identified above (career, relationships, etc.). Don't worry about realities or impossibilities.
Just give your heart and mind free reign to picture everything you wish your life could be in terms of relationships and family; profession and career; finances and retirement; and how you'd like to spend your time (travel, hobbies, etc.)
If money and other considerations were not a factor what would you do with your time and your life? What gets you really excited? What have you always wanted? What do you love to do (professionally or personally).
Step Back Into Reality
Note the abilities, experience and strengths you already possess that can help you live your ideal life. Make a list of the accomplishments you are proudest of in your professional and personal life. Can any of these help you achieve your idea life? Evaluate your work style and habits. Do you work better alone, in a group, or as a manager? What time of day is your peak performance? How many hours a day or week are you capable of working at a high level of performance?
Now Make Your Plan
Once you have created a vision of your dream life and evaluated your strengths and weaknesses then you are better able to create a plan that will help you achieve your ideal life. Perhaps your dream is to own your business but currently you don't have any experience with management.
So find a way to gain that experience through your professional work or in a volunteer capacity. Now that you know where you want your life to go and you know how far along that path you have progressed then it is simply a matter of working toward your goal to achieve that life of happiness and success you desire.
Becoming a Student of Life
One of the habits that has served me well throughout my life is keeping the mind-set of a student. I've always had an insatiable curiosity about a wide variety of topics, and I'm usually reading several books during the same time period. I've read about some really fascinating things, like quantum physics, and some really cheesy things, like romance novels. Truth be told, I've enjoyed them all!
It occurred to me the other day that it doesn't matter what I'm learning about, as long as I'm consistently learning. I'm like a sponge that gets dry and shriveled if I don't absorb something on a regular basis. My life then becomes boring and stagnant, and I feel sluggish and uninspired.
If this describes your life right now, you can turn it around pretty easily. Adopt the attitude of a student, and watch how it infuses you with joy, excitement, and motivation.
Being a student of life isn't just about reading books and learning as much as you can on various subjects. That can certainly be part of it, but it's more about the way you see the world around you and the way you handle your daily experiences.
Here are five tips to help you become a student of life:
1) Develop Awareness. - Most of us spend our days rushing blindly from one activity to another without ever noticing our surroundings. If we can instead slow down a little bit and just look around us, we'd SEE so much more in life. Take time to notice that beautiful sunset on the drive home. Step outside during the day and feel the sunshine on your face, and indulge in some deep, cleansing breaths. Become aware of your own spiritual self, and your connection to all living things. Give yourself the gift of just being, noticing, and breathing.
2) Keep an Open Mind. - Rather than assuming you know all about something already, approach each situation with an attitude of curiosity. Question everything. Explore new ideas, thoughts, and subjects you've always wanted to learn about. This goes for the people around you too. Don't assume you know what they're all about based on their appearance or some preconceived notion. Ask questions, get to know them better. Be willing to release any judgments you may have, and instead seek truth.
3) Keep an Open Heart. - Express deep gratitude for your life, and all of the experiences you have - even the not so pleasant ones. Be willing to be vulnerable in your connections with others, and allow yourself to feel. Too often we are afraid of our emotions and try to numb them or run away from them. Instead, let your emotions be your teachers. Listen to them, and honor them. They will teach you a lot about yourself.
4) Look for the Lesson. - In every experience, ask yourself, "What can I learn from this?" Sometimes the lesson is obvious, and sometimes you'll have to search for it. With every lesson, allow it to become a part of you and make you a better, stronger, happier person. Though we all make mistakes and stumble, the goal is to make new mistakes, rather than repeating the same ones over and over again. As long as we are making progress, we're doing great! Use your own awareness to overcome challenges and keep moving forward.
5) Enjoy the Journey. - Most of us take life so seriously! Yes, it does have its serious moments. But overall this is supposed to be a pleasant experience, and we can make it that way by simply choosing to. Don't worry so much about whether you're making as much progress as you should, and don't get frustrated when things don't always work out as planned. Instead take a lighter attitude and understand that it's all just a journey and the point is to relax and enjoy.
Imagine that you're a beautiful white sponge, and you come across these brilliant pools of colored liquid. There's a red pool of passion, a pink pool of love, a yellow pool of knowledge, a green pool of gratitude, and a purple pool of fun. Go ahead and dip your sponge toe into each of these pools, and your color will begin to change. Rather than being a plain white sponge, you are now a beautiful, multi-colored sponge, filled with passion, love, knowledge, gratitude, and fun.
Unfortunately, there are also a few pools of black, brackish stuff like negative self-talk, fear, regrets, etc. If you accidentally absorb some of this and it begins to taint your colors, don't worry about it too much. Just focus on revisiting the pretty, colorful pools and absorbing more good stuff. It will dilute the negative stuff, and eventually get rid of it all together. :-)
What to Do When Nothing Is Working Out for You...
If you are one of those people for whom things are just not going the way they want .... if you think that things work out wonderfully well for everyone else BUT you, then you should sit back, relax and ponder upon your situation in this light:
We have all been brought up "in comparison" to others. There is an ideal time to go to school, finish college, get married, make money, have children etc and then everything HAS to repeat itself the same way for our children and so on!
If we are ever "behind" anyone (or everyone) in achieving a certain goal, a lot of anxiety and despair comes rushing into our lives. We then desperately try all kinds of things to get to that goal, all the while worrying that it will not happen for us...and what is the result? It actually doesn't! The more you despair for something, the more of these "wanting" vibrations will be released into the Universe and you will end up with more of "wanting" and no "gaining".
I want you to remember that it is always a BIG mistake to judge your life by comparing it with others. Your circumstances are completely different from them.... plans and things that work for them cannot work in exactly the same way for you.
By worrying about why things are not working out for you in the same way, you CREATE a reality for that time; that those things or plans are not working for you. It is all because you are defining your reality by comparing it with someone else. Someone else's reality does not have anything to do with your reality.
A Better Way of Thinking
Here is a better way of thinking and putting things in perspective: First and foremost, realize completely how you have acquired this state of mind. Accept that you have been comparing your reality with others and that is not taking you anywhere... they have a completely different path in life than yours. Love yourself the way you are, love your circumstances and accept that things at present are exactly as they should be.
Also, allow yourself to believe that you WILL succeed although not in EXACTLY the same way that you want to. Perhaps God/Universe/Spirit wants to take you through a different path, but you WILL get there.
Trust that although things may or may not turn out to be the way that you want them to, they WILL turn out in a way that is best for you. You have to be relaxed and non-judgemental for things to start working in the direction of your success. Set your OWN definitions of success, and do not base your happiness on how everything is working out for others.
Take action, but do not struggle to control each and every event in your life. Try to do all that you can to make things right and then trust in God/Universe/Spirit to take you to your goal. You will be happier, more secure and will have peace and love in your heart and best of all, eventually things will start going your way.