Everyone has heard the quote, “if you aim at nothing, you will hit every time”, which is the trap you will fall into unless you figure out what you are and what you want. What you need to do right now is to understand where exactly you are in your life and where you want to be. Right now, you need to envision what you desire. Because if you do not, then you will certainly not achieve any of your dreams and you will constantly float by in mediocrity. By creating a plan for your life, you can gain clarity about yourself, what you want, and the potential obstacles in your path in order for you to overcome them. This plan will change and reinvigorate your life.
How to write your plan
Creating a plan will not take you a long time if you already know yourself and what you want. However, it can also take as long as you want; it mainly depends on how detailed you want to be with it.
1. Create your plan for the time span of 3 to 5 years
When you start creating your plan for your life, I highly recommend limiting the time period to no more than 5 years. My recommendation would be to plan for 3 to 5 years. Anything longer is too much and it will not be surprising if you fail to stick to your plan for anything longer. This is because life has so many twists and turns that it is impossible to know so far into the future. For example, I have a 5 year plan that states that I was supposed to be interning with a management consulting firm in San Francisco; but due to COVID-19 and the field being a very competitive one, I was not able to get an internship. Alas, I had to rework my plan and change my trajectory. Ultimately, keep your plan to within the 3 to 5 year range, because you do not know exactly what will happen between then.
At this point, you might be thinking, “If life has so many problems and I cannot actively plan for it, then what is the point?” Your plan is to help guide you and give you focus on what you want. When creating your plan, you have to be flexible with it and not give it an ultimatum. Granted, you will not be able to anticipate everything, but I guarantee that you will be able to handle future obstacles significantly better than if you had no plan whatsoever
2. Identify your mission
So once you have your time period, you need to start creating your sections. First, identify your mission. This is what you are trying to achieve with your plan and life, while determining some of your key skills and desires. Your mission could be a sentence, a few, or a complete paragraph. The size is completely up to you. However, the more thorough you are, the more you will understand about yourself. For me, I did mine in 3 sentences, but it was about 170 words.
3. Create your vision
This can be your shortest section, but it is also your most powerful part. In this section, you need to identify your vision of success. I recommend for this to be a long term vision. For me, I wrote, paraphrased, for part my vision is that I can establish financial freedom for myself, so that I create a comfortable life for my family and others in need. My value of financial freedom is so great that I wrote it into my vision. This is because I see money as a tool that can change the way life approaches you and the ones you care about. Regardless, figure out what you want in your life and how you envision your success to be like.
4. What are your success factors?
Success factors are extremely important as they embody your success. These are the steps, goals, accomplishments, or requirements that will determine whether you feel as if you have accomplished your vision of success or not. A success factor could be getting a bachelor’s degree or going on a trip to personally develop or starting a podcast or doing whatever you view as a key factor in order for you to achieve success.
5. Perform a SWOT analysis on yourself
A SWOT analysis is a term that is mainly used in business, but it is an important tool in your plan. The term stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. In essence, you identify each of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in order to understand more about yourself. If you do not know how to perform a SWOT analysis on yourself, then there are a couple of key points you need to consider before analyzing yourself. First, you need to see your Strengths and Weaknesses as internal things that you can control. This could be, for example, that one of your strengths is that you are analytical, but a weakness could be that you lack patience. Second, the Opportunities and Threats are the external factors in your life. These are things that are from the outside world that you do not have complete control over. You can anticipate these things, but you will not be able to 100% guarantee these parts. Examples of an Opportunity and Threat are that you might have the opportunity to invest in an economic downturn in order to gain profit or that you might be threatened by a poor economy that results in you losing your job. Third, be as specific and detailed as possible. The longer you spend analyzing yourself, the more you will understand.
6. Your goals for success
Now that you understand more about yourself, this would be the perfect time to truly identify your goals. This goes partly in line with what your vision is and your success factors. Your vision embodies your success and your success factors are the things that you think will be the requirements for you to achieve success. But, your success is dependent on your goals. What is it that you truly want? For example, I want to have a salary of a minimum of $70k when I graduate. To me, that is one of my goals for success. This section is the place where you put everything that you want to accomplish; however, I recommend focusing more on the period of time that you have established for yourself with this plan (3 to 5 years).
7. Create a visual timeline for yourself
You do NOT have to do this last section, but I highly recommend it. I am not a visual learner, but I really enjoy having a visual representation of something that I am striving for. When you have a visual timeline, you can see how on track you are with your plan. Because of this, I recommend you make this as visual as possible. Also, you can micro it is as much as possible or go as broad as you want. You can separate everything by years, months, days, etc. It is entirely up to you. For me, I split my timeline up into seasons.
Change your life by giving yourself clarity
A plan is one of the surest ways to give your life clarity. It will give you direction and help you figure out what you want, who you are, and where you want to be at. With more clarity in your life, you will go farther and you will prevent yourself from aiming at nothing, which is one of the worst things you can do to yourself.