“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – Unknown
Having a conversation today with a client we both realized we are half way through 2009. It started me thinking about my life the last ten years. Just to put ten years ago into perspective, all the talk and worry of Y2K was just starting to unravel and George W. Bush was running for his first term.
The top albums were:
1. Jennifer Lopez - If You Had My Love
2. Pearl Jam - Last Kiss
3. Ricky Martin - Livin La Vida Loca
In the movies:
1. Sixth Sense
2. The Blair Witch Project
3. Austin Powers 2
4. The Matrix
This got me thinking about time and what I have or have not accomplished to date and WHY?? There is no doubt that time goes by at a rapid pace. About this time in 1999 I was running my own custom cabinet shop, training to take the physical portion of the fire department test in the city that I lived (training wasn't planned so my workouts were sporadic, I was working too many hours) and not really thinking much about the future. I was just trying to get through the day!
As I look back and reflect on the mistakes I have made and where I am today. The one thing that holds true for all the difficult times in my life was the fact that I did not have a plan. I was flying by the seat of my pants and had no direction. I did not take the time to sit down and design and build my life or business. When I started my cabinet business I didn’t have a plan. I thought about and knew what I wanted but didn’t sit down and blueprint how I was going to get there. Did that decision work out well for me? NO! I was working way too many hours a week and had no life. I burned myself out to the point where I disliked running a business and building furniture. This was something that at one time I loved doing and was passionate about. I was great at designing and building furniture but not at designing and building my business.
When I think about my training over the years the same principles apply. I have always made my greatest gains in size or strength when I had a clear goal and designed a workout and nutrition plan in advance.
Think about the last ten years of your life, or even the last five. Are you where you want to be? If not maybe it is time to design and build your life plan or readjust your current one. Here are some steps you can take to get you started:
- Go buy a 5 subject notebook.
- The first section I personally use for daily planning, this way everything is in one place. Label the rest of the sections. I have them labeled – Health/Fitness, Finance, Business/Career and Family/Relationships.
- Start asking yourself questions!! If this is new and overwhelming, which it definitely can be and is probably the main reason people hesitate to start. Keep it simple. Start with one year to get practice and build some success instead of going for 5 or 10 years right from the get go.
Here is an example:
- Q #1: Where would I like to be 1 year from now? Or 5 or 10 years if you are up for the challenge. Answer this question in each key area. As you get better at goal setting and planning you will be able to break down 5 or 10 years into smaller goals easier.
- Q #2: What are the most important steps I need to take to get me there? Don’t go crazy here coming up with a high amount of steps. Choose about 6 to 10 and then break them down into more manageable steps.
- Q #3: What is the first step? Continue to put them in order of importance. And then break them down to smaller time frames – 1 month, 2 weeks, 1 week and then daily.
- Q #4: What are my resources? (Time, people, finances, etc.)
- Q #5: What are some potential challenges I may face in attaining my goal? Make a list of situations that may throw you off track.
- Ex.: If you goal is to lose 5 lbs and one of the steps is to cook more and minimize eating out. One of your challenges may be friends asking you out to dinner to frequently. This leads us to:
- Q #6: What is my back up plan? With the above scenario it may be to – have them over for dinner, not only do you get a fabulous meal but you will also save some $$$ and probably have to clean your house as an added bonus. As a matter of fact, with the money you save on dinner you may be able to afford to hire someone to clean your house. Another option maybe to choose the restaurant and then you can pick one that has healthy options.
Let’s say my one year goal in the area of family/relationships is to take a family trip to Italy. Let’s break it down:
Where would I like to be 1 yr from now? In Italy – Venice, Rome and Sicily.
What are the most important steps? I chose 6 Steps for this scenario.
- Evaluate finances and save $$$.
- Decide and assess how much time I can take off of work.
- Contact a travel agent to discuss options and basic cost and or go online and look for deals.
- Research what I want to see and do and how I want to spend my time.
- Plan how much time I want to spend in each location.
- Budget and plan my time and finances so I get the most out of my trip.
1st step - The first step would be to contact a travel agent to get an average cost. I chose that one because it may have an impact on the most important one. Which is:
- 2nd step - Evaluate my finances and save $$$. Let’s say the trip is estimated to cost 5000.00 and I don’t want to incur any debt. I currently have 1000.00 saved toward the trip. So I need to save 4000.00 and let’s say at my current salary I won’t save that much in 1 year. One of the action steps may be to get a part time job. This may add additional questions and steps. I may now need to evaluate my time and see if it is possible to work a part time job. Or ask additional questions such as are there other ways to acquire the funds (selling items you do not need or use anymore, make part of it a working vacation so work picks up some expense, stay with a friend or relative, etc.).?
- 3rd step - Research what I want to see and do. Above I chose Venice, Rome and Sicily. I can research on the internet; or ask travel agent, friends and or relatives who have been there, places and sights they recommend.
- 4th step – plan how much time I want to spend in each location. This may work in conjunction with what I want to see and do. My cousin Vinnie may live in Sicily. I haven’t seen him in 5 years, so I may decide to spend more time there, or less depending on whether Vinnie’s a big pain in le noci.
- 5th step - Decide and assess how much time off work. This one is easy. Based on your budget and what you want to see and do the answer should be fairly clear.
- Budget and plan my time and finances so I get the most out of my trip. Here is where it all comes together. I have my budget. I planned the who, what, when and how. My funds are allotted accordingly and I have some back up cash in reserve.
What are my resources? We actually answered the financial aspect of this question in the process of going through the steps above. Other questions you can ask – Is there someone I can delegate some of the work to? Will a spouse or partner be contributing funds? Can and or will they get a part time job to help with savings?
What are some potential challenges I may face in attaining my goal? Once you know what they are you can put together a better plan to minimize the chance of them occurring. No need to drive yourself crazy but come up with a few potential circumstances to cover your butt. If you can’t think of any ask someone who travels frequently or the travel agent.
- May not be able to save enough $$$ due to various circumstances. (Job loss, unforeseen auto expense, unforeseen medical expense, etc.)
- Death or illness in the family.
What is my backup plan?
- Borrow the $$ if absolutely necessary. From who?
- Purchase insurance or check with the travel agent to be sure I can get a refund or postpone the trip without penalty or minimal penalty.
This should be enough info to get you started thinking about and designing your life and what you choose to do with it. Because after all it is your life and your responsibility!! Or you could wait until next falls TV line up; they may come out with a “CSI: Italy” and you can watch it on TV.
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