Patricia Fripp said, “It amazes me that most people spend more time planning next summer’s vacation than they do planning the rest of their lives.” It’s likely that you could describe some of the details of your upcoming vacation, but could you describe the next five years of your life? The day you realize that you are just as much in control of the rest of your life as you are your next vacation is the day you really start living.
It’s the Only One You’ll Get
If you took one vacation a year for your entire adult life, that would make about 45 vacations. That’s a lot of time spent swimming at the beach or scuba diving or parasailing. But, you’re only going to get one life and if you’re living vacation to vacation, you’re missing out on all of the potential happiness in-between.
Instead of spending all of your time looking forward to the next vacation and eagerly booking those diving lessons, learn to be present and enjoy every day. Easier said than done, right? You’ll need to make solid plans, but the process is much the same as planning a vacation. And if you do it right, every single day will feel like a brand new vacation (that’s 16,425 days of vacation on the same scale as before).
Here are three steps to planning the rest of your life with the same detail and conviction as your trip to Hawaii.
1. Create a vision board
Start with the big picture. Visualize the biggest aspects of your life as they are now: career, family, friends, and finance. If it helps, gather some magazines and print some images from the Internet. Choose the images and words that best represent where you are in all of those areas today.
Now, think of all the things you want to improve about what you see. How different do you want things to be in five years? Maybe you want to earn a big promotion, reconnect with old friends and start a retirement plan. Use the same supplies as before to create another board. It’s best if you use a tangible board that you can keep somewhere you’ll see daily.
2. Set concrete goals
The major drawback of a vision board is that it can seem overwhelming. Five years really doesn’t seem like a long time and those are lofty goals. The trick is to break the big picture down into smaller goals. Use specific numbers, specific achievements and specific dates. For example, maybe you want to be promoted from Sales Associate to Sales Manager by April 13th, 2015. Stay realistic, but concrete.
3. Measure and evaluate quarterly
Still, even three years can seem big picture. You can make things even more straightforward by listing action items for each goal. For example, you might decide that you’ll need to arrive early and stay late three days a week to earn that promotion. The first step to creating that retirement plan is investing $1,000 and 10% of your monthly income from now on.
To keep yourself on track with all of these little action items, evaluate your progress every couple of weeks to start. After you’ve built new habits around the action items (after 30 days), you can switch to quarterly evaluations. If you’re not on track after each evaluation, take another look at your before and after vision boards for motivation.
It’s that easy (in theory)! Those little life alterations will add up over time to a massive five-year overhaul. The best part is that all you have to worry about is the little action items. So, hang up on the hotel attendant and cancel that flight. Instead of planning your happiness two weeks of the year at a time, start planning for happiness 365 days of the year.Tags: life plan, plan your life