A quick thought.
Having a great life plan is NOT enough.
You could have the best life plan possible. You could have tremendous dedication and take each action without fail. But you could still end up feeling disappointed.
You probably think that the people who succeed in life are the ones who have a great life plan and take consistent actions.
But that’s only partly true.
There is a crucial ingredient missing from the picture.
An idea so important without which your life plan and actions are as ineffective as having no plan and taking no actions.
Haven’t you wondered that if success is merely a matter of formulating a plan and taking action, why aren’t more people succeeding?
In this article, I intend to help you grasp this powerful magic ingredient that is so often missing from the picture.
But before we dive into that, let us see why we need a life plan in the first place.
An Overview of Contents
Should I Explore the Jungle or Hide in the Cave Till I Die
Do you ever leave for a vacation without deciding where you are going?
How pointless will it seem to pack your bags and simply start walking down the road? Which way? Which bus? Where?
If you cannot imagine spending a vacation without a predefined destination, how pointless would it be to try and live your entire life without a life plan?
“Your life plan leads to your destination in life. You need the plan to know how you’ll reach there.” Tweet
The Magic Ingredient Missing in Your Master Plan
Think of a soldier fighting a battle against terrorists to protect the civilians. Having a “good aim” can be of great use to the soldier. The more accurately he can shoot, the more effective he can be, right?
While a good aim is a great virtue to have, what if the soldier cannot distinguish between the terrorists and civilians?
Suddenly, a good aim can produce the opposite of desired results. There is more threat to the civilians.
Before the soldier shoots, it is important that he confirms the target to be a terrorist.
What am I trying to say here?
“Your life plan is what you want to do in life. What you want to do in life will depend on how you understand life.”
If you have a faulty understanding of life, you will include the wrong things in your life plan and sabotage the whole thing. From that point on, it won’t matter if you’re taking consistent actions for your plan. You’re doomed to fail.
In the movie INTO THE WILD, Christopher, who is a well-educated son of wealthy parents, always dreams of living by himself in the far away wilderness of Alaska. He gives up his possessions and money and sets out for the ultimate dream.
While he loves staying close to nature all alone, soon things begin to fall apart. Two years away from home, living in the wild of Alaska (inside a broken abandoned bus), without any contact with another human soul, made things very challenging.
His last words as noted in his diary were….
Happiness is best when shared with others.
Christopher died from eating a poisonous plant by mistake.
Now there is nothing wrong with living close to nature or going on a solo trip. But don’t you think it would have been better if Christopher had realized this fact about happiness from the very beginning? Would he still have sought to live all alone, away from his loved ones?
How would you feel if you were to reach the end of your life and realize that your “most important” things weren’t that important after all?
Faulty understanding of life.
“What do most people say on their deathbed? They don’t say they wish they’d made more money. They say they wish they’d spent more time with family and done more for society or community.” ~David Rubenstein
Another example would be a person who aims to be just rich in life, without realizing the importance of other areas like family, health, service. He could have a brilliant plan to earn a lot of money and may have tremendous dedication to act upon it.
But what’ll happen as time passes by?
You guessed it.
What is This Magic Called “Life”
In order to ensure that we don’t have a faulty understanding of life, we should analyse how we think of life, and then select all the important ideas from that model to include them in our life plan.
Let’s look at some of the most common models of life. Understand their difference and try to identify the one that works best for you.
Religion (We are God’s children)
This is the most common model of life people believe in. According to this model, the world and everything in it has been created by God (different Gods in different religion). He is the supreme authority over everything. Our job is to follow his path.
Science (A cause for every effect)
Science believes that every effect rises from a cause. “Logic” and “reason” are its fundamentals. It attempts to explain all phenomena through science laws. Nothing happens without a reason.
Spirituality (Oneness in all things)
All beings rise from a single infinite source (or spirit). We are all connected together to make a larger whole. We must respect this oneness of the universe and act in accordance to that.
This is not an exhaustive list of life models, and there can be many more.
Think of the above life models (or any other model that you may believe in).
Which one makes the most sense to you?
What Does the Superhero in You Stand For
Once you know how you think of life (from your life model), it is time to find out all the important ideas worth having in your life. You want to include all of these in your life plan.
Here are some ideas….
“I believe God has created us all. We all are the children of God. I must respect this and help others whenever I can. It is important for me to do no harm. I believe that God will feed me, guide me, and protect me from any harm.”
“Reason is important to me. I do things only if there is a good reason behind it. If an action causes me harm, I’ll avoid doing it. If there is a benefit associated, I shall gladly do it.”
“All things are connected. I am one with the world. I feel universal kindness for all things around me. It is important for me to treat others with kindness and respect.”
Do you see how each model has different important ideas?
Planning Your Attack Against Mediocre Life
One great way to define important ideas for life is to use “principles.” Why principles, you may ask.
Because they are timeless.
Whether it was 1600, 1990 or 2015, everybody wants to have an abundant life. Abundance is a timeless principle.
Similarly, principles like freedom, authenticity, love, etc. are universally desired principles.
Defining the Principles You Want
I belong to a middle-class family. From an early age, I saw my parents, uncles, relatives, etc. rushing to their job early morning and returning home late evening. That is how the financial model worked.
While I feel deeply grateful for having enough food to eat and clothes to wear, I wished they could spare more time for themselves and me. That is when I began to realize.
Freedom (principle) is important to me. It made sense that I should have more control of my time than somebody else.
The idea of being self-employed (blogging, to be more specific) has attracted me ever since.
Do you see how I defined an important principle I wanted in my life? What are the principles you would want in your life?
Steps to Define Life Plan
Steve Pavlina once expressed a great way to define life plan.
Your life plan is the intersection of three circles—
• What you want to do(principles)
• What you can do (skills and talents)
• What you need to do (financial need, supporting family, etc.)
You’ve already defined what you want in terms of principles.
“What you can do” should include your skills and talents. Not just the ones you already have mastered but also those that feel intuitively interesting to you. Ask yourself this question-
What are the things that you can get really good at, if you put your heart into them?
“What you need” are the requirements you must meet in life. Such as your financial need (paying your bills), or supporting your family, etc.
Let’s take up a quick example.
Say, you’ve already listed your desires, needs and skills. And now you want to find out which career is best suited for you based on these.
Desires (principles) – freedom, abundance, service to others.
(Speaking of service, Vinay of Aha!NOW is a registered organ donor. Here is a link to his article that explains his perspective on the topic and the whole process in case you want to do it too.)
Skills – writing (posts/articles)
Needs – Support yourself financially.
So which career will suit you?
One possible option could be “Blogging”.
Can blogging help you create freedom (be more control of your time), abundance (high income, control of time, etc.) and service (sharing valuable content with others and helping them in their goals)??
Can you use your writing skill in blogging?
Can you earn enough money to support yourself financially?
Yes. Professional bloggers have an income of six figures and above.
Life Plan Can be Such a Weirdo
There’s more to life plans –
• Life Plan is Not Static and Constantly Evolves
If you think that you could spend an entire week sitting on a rock, thinking hard about life and be able to list down everything that you will ever want in life, you’re mistaken.
We don’t know everything in a moment or a week. As life unfolds, our thinking constantly evolves, refining our experiences in life. Gradually, we become wiser.
Hence, your life plan must include room for future changes. A good life plan would include specific actions for your immediate next step but also allow for changes in future.
• Life Plan is a Guide, Not a Rule
Your life plan is just “one way” to achieve what you want. There could be many more ways to achieve the same things.
So don’t feel too disappointed if your life plan fails. You just ran into a roadblock on your current path. Find another way to reach your destination. 🙂
“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel in it.”-Rosalia de Castro
To sum it all up…
• Understand your life model.
• Find out the essential principles of your model. These “must” be included in your life plan.
• Overlap your desires, needs and skills.
• Find the options that suit this overlap.
But we are not done here. The class is not dismissed till you get some homework. 😛
“I went to work and did a lot of homework about what was wrong with me.”-Margot Kidder
Homework for the Cool Kids (Call to Action)
Fill in the following blanks and start defining/refining your life plan.
• I think of life as …… (2 to 3 sentences describing your life model).
• According to this life model, I cannot compromise with the following principles ……
• My skills, needs and desires are ……
• What option(s) will suit the overlap of these skills, needs and desires?
Reading about these ideas won’t take you far. Answer these questions and start walking down the path of your dreams.
“The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”-Meister Eckhart
I sincerely hope that you found this post helpful.
Share your takeaway(s) from this post in the comment section.
Go out there and live your life to the fullest. 🙂
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