Is life planning productive and useful? The skeptics would say that the essential nature of life is unpredictable and therefore planning is futile.
Let’s look at why life planning is useful:
1. Planning provides a sense of control over the future
Plan is nothing but planning is everything
Planning provides a sense of predictability and control over the future. This helps to develop a long-term view, builds stability and the attitude of a winner. The 10,000 hour rule requires long-term gradual efforts to achieve excellence. This cannot be done without having a plan and the willingness to act on it.
2. If happiness is understood as setting and achieving goals, planning provides is a way to increase happiness by setting systematic goals
A good plan helps to think things through. It requires answers to questions like “what if”? A good plan encourages you to think the factors that are in favor of or against a situation. All of this helps in setting realistic short-term goals and achieving them.
3. Planning is also useful because at each life stage priorities change
Different stages of life have different priorities. Planning helps to steer through the surprises and adversities.
4. Lastly, planning provides opportunities for self-growth and development
Planning helps to understand the context and increases meaning from life events.
What should we plan?
Each of the following areas require some thinking and planning:
– Finance (income streams/retirement/wealth/risk)
– Wellness (health/fitness/interests/spiritual)
– Career (job/skills/network/anchors/tools)
– Family (Personal time/vacation/studies/events)
How to plan
– Choose the right tools / frameworks
Some of the more popular ones are provided by Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Effective People) and Tony Robbins.
– Keep a journal / diary to document your progress in each of the areas above
– Increase awareness in each areas as well as acquire knowledge and expertise
– Keep track of how your job/projects are evolving
– Build effective measures
Time-frame for planning
– 30 day plans
– 6 month plans
– 1 year
– 3 years
– 5 years
– 10 years
– 20 years
Indeed it is useful to make really long-term plans. They provide perspective to look at life and dream about how things would be. Making long-term plans requires patience, developing skills, evolving relationships. The real reward is to see as dreams and wishes eventually turn to reality even as we respect the unexpected nature of life.
Intention is the strongest power in the universe and the planning process helps to strengthen intentions.