We are almost finished another year and most of us start thinking about the New Year, what it will bring and of course – ‘New Year Resolutions’. Last year I wrote a post about why I don’t make New Year Resolutions anymore and perhaps neither should you. You can click here if you would like to hear why.
I recently completed a course through Futurelearn.com – Strategies for Successful Ageing and one of the topics discussed by Liz Harper, Head of Community and Lifelong Learning at Age and Opportunity, was Life Planning.
A Life Plan is important for our mental wellbeing. We all need something to look forward to or work towards and having a Life Plan in place will help you get there faster. It can be for anything in your life so start thinking about what you would like to change or achieve in this New Year.
A Life Plan to achieve your goal
Liz suggests that this isn’t where you make a list and tick it off like we do for our normal daily routine. It is about taking time to reflect on what our ‘bigger picture’ is and what we want to achieve in life. It is easy to go through life planning small things like holidays but do we really look at the big picture of where we are going and what we actually want from life.
As Liz says:
If you can take a step back and identify what it is you would like to do, would like to get, or would like to be, then maybe you could start making a plan to move towards that. And there are loads of different ways of doing life planning.
4 methods of Life Planning to achieve your goal
Each of us is different so not one method fits all. There are four methods to choose from:
- SMART Planning
- Action Planning
- Rewind Planning
- Intention Planning
You can try each of them and decide which is best for you.
Most of us have heard of the SMART process when setting goals. That is, our goals must be:
- realistic and
- a time frame set.
This is basically a variety of different prompts that you could be thinking about for yourself. This is quite a practical method. If you know what you want to achieve this method asks questions such as:
- How will I know I’ve achieved it?
- What’s the cost of me not achieving it?
- What will work against me achieving it?
- How will I know that I’ve got there?
- What might stop it? What might help me?
- Who might stop me? Who might help me?
This method starts at the end with what you want to achieve and as Liz suggested it might appeal more to those of us who are very visual. It is called Rewind Planning because you set your goal and work back from there to the present. Take a large sheet of paper and write what you want at the top. Then work backwards in steps until you are at the first step which can be down now.
Here is an example from Liz.
We might say, before you can have a holiday in Iceland, you have an investigation packages to Iceland. How are you going to get there? You have to find out the cost, who’s doing the packages, and what the availability is. That’s background research you need to do. And then maybe coming down to another level, you need someone to go with, if you don’t want to go on your own. So that might be about calling friends and seeing what their availability is, checking your own diary and all that stuff.
Coming down to another level it might be things like, are there people at home who need minding? Who’s going to keep an eye on the house? And who’s going to mind the dog? You might work that out. And then right down to the next level, what would be the very first thing, the first phone call, that you’d need to make? The idea behind this is that you’d start taking the action immediately. And one action needs to another. And eventually, you’re on holiday in lovely Iceland. This is Rewind Planning.
Intention Planning is where you actually imagine yourself in your goal. As in the example of Iceland holiday, you imagine yourself there. You taste it, smell it and feel it. Let’s say again, you want to go to Iceland. Each step you plan is reinforcing your goal into your subsconcsious until you are there.
Which of the four planning techniques do you feel would be most useful for you to set and achieve your goal?