DEVELOPING THE PLANS FOR YOUR LIFE
And Including Goodness in It
Almost all of us agree that acts of goodness are very important and that we need more of them in the world right now. However, we often stop with that simple “thought about goodness” and don’t take actual steps to increase the goodness coming from our own life. This posting not only stresses the importance of making specific plans for your life, but that acts of goodness—using your life to help others—should be an integral part of your planning work.
The smallest good deed
is better than the grandest good intention.
Spontaneity vs. Planning
Many of us prefer spontaneity. Instead of planning, we wait and decide things as they pop up in our lives. We choose our actions based on what "looks and feels" best at the moment. Some of us don’t want to establish important goals because then we would have to actually work hard to achieve them. Plus, we would only be disappointed if we fell short. In other words, it seems to be much easier to live life one day at a time, and that’s exactly what many of us do.
The problem with taking the day-by-day approach to life is that we seldom accomplish much by using it. We either reach a point in our lives when we suddenly realize we’ve wasted a lot of time, or, worse, without a plan we make some unproductive choices that we now can’t go back and change. Flying by the seat of our pants almost never works out well in life. It’s much more effective to develop plans for how we will live our lives . . . plans that will, in effect, serve as a guide for the choices we make.
Managing your life, to some extent, is like managing a business. In this case, think of yourself as the CEO and Chief Choice Maker. Most successful businesses develop well-thought-out plans that explain where they want to take the business in the years ahead and how they plan to get there. Such plans require time and effort to develop and need updates as real-world circumstances or new market conditions emerge.
Most of us have goals, but without a plan to achieve them, goals alone aren't very effective. It’s important to develop a plan for each significant goal that you have. Some goals may need only a general plan as you work to define the goal more precisely. Other high priority goals need and deserve a more detailed plan in which you identify the primary steps and activities involved including a timeline for completing them. Whatever the goal, you need a plan for achieving it.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Advantage of Writing Things Down
The act of writing down our life plans helps us to sort out our thinking. Putting things in writing requires more thought and more detail. Writing these plans down helps us to clarify important goals that we have. And developing a written plan helps us create a strategy for achieving them.
Someone is sitting in the shade today because
someone planted a tree a long time ago.
What should a typical plan for our lives cover? Such plans will, of course, vary greatly from person to person and depend on such things as our interests, our goals and how we would prefer to live our lives. The actual content of your plan is up to you.
But as you consider what will be in your life plan, outlined below are seven important areas, presented in no certain order, that you may want address in yours. Your initial plan will require reviews, edits and updates in the months and possibly years ahead. But even as it is being developed, it will be a tremendous help to you in making choices, especially the more important ones.
Here are some questions you may want to address in your life plan:
Interests and Abilities
What natural skills and abilities do I possess?
What do I consider my most compelling personal interests to be?
Do I have any insights concerning what the intended purpose of my life might be?
Career-wise, what are some possibilities for me?
What are the most important goals I need to establish for my life?
Which of these goals have I already established? What are they?
What do I need to do to establish the others?
What knowledge (or skills) do I need to help me achieve my goals?
How will I acquire this knowledge (or skills) in the years ahead?
What is one thing that I would just like to learn more about?
Health-wise, what do I want my physical self to be years from now?
What will my exercise plan be to achieve this objective?
What should my food/eating habits be to support this objective?
Helping Others (Goodness)
• How will I help someone else have a better life?
• What role does goodness play in what I want to achieve with my life?
• What choices do I need to make that will allow me to help others in some way?
How effective are my communication skills, and how can I improve them?
How effective are my writing skills, and what can I do to improve them?
What process should I follow when I have important choices to make?
What are some of the more important choices I will face in the next few years?
What help, assistance or research do I need to do to support these choices?
Life planning is a process, one that needs careful thought over an extended period of time. It will likely require many edits and updates over a number of months, in some cases years. The important thing is to start this planning process. It is understood that you will not have all of the answers. But the questions you have about what to do with your life are important indeed. When you know the questions, you know how to direct your thinking until you develop an answer or, as often happens, you gain insights that allow you to tweak or modify the question and possibly the original goal.
At some point, if you work at it, if you review and update your plan on a regular basis, you will develop the answers you need. Of even greater importance, you will have a life plan that has been “tailored to you” and the specific interests, abilities and feelings that you have.
Four steps to achievement:
…proceed positively and
William A. Ward
The Importance of Goodness
Of the seven areas of planning outlined above, we believe that helping others (goodness) is by far the most important and deserves a lot of your time and thinking. You can be very smart, be a very capable person, and possibly destined to make a lot of money, but your life will never render a high level of satisfaction without a significant amount of goodness in it.
Goodness—the combination of God’s guiding spirit and your choice to actually do something that helps other people—determines the difference between an average life and a life that others will remember and miss forever. So, as you work on your life plans, be certain that you include the role of goodness and how it will be a part of your life.
Wisdom has its root in goodness.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
By Michael L. Nelson
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