Developing a Yearly Life Strategic Plan
What if your world comes to an end unknowingly a few months from now? Will you be saying, “I need more time”? It is easy to think we’ve got all the time in the world, right? If your time happens to come to an end, imagine being in a state of gratitude. “Thanks, I’ve done my best.”
The idea of having gratitude on your last day alive can deeply shift your fear of death towards embracing living life to the fullest. You become like a child, wanting to experience everything life has to offer. You will increase your curiosity and wonder of the world around you. You will begin to trust more in yourself and respond effectively to your intuition. Learning to embrace gratitude for being alive every day will help you value every day so much more, regardless of the type of day you’re having. The point is, you’re still here. You’re still alive. There is a power within you, and what you do while you’re alive is your gift back to the world.
When you start living your life every year as if it’s your last like I do, you need to come to terms with accepting your death to better re-evaluate your goals and gain more clarity with your true feelings associated with each of your goals.
By making a conscious choice to design your life, to strategically plan as if it really was your last year alive every year, you will be more willing to challenge yourself and to take more risks. You will be more curious to explore how far you can go in life. You will want to contribute more to things you care about in your life and you will continuously strive to become the best version of yourself. You will recognize that you’ve got nothing to lose, that you’re not getting out of here alive.
Deciding to no longer live a disempowered life
Yes, it’s just a choice, but a decision to no longer live a disempowered life needs to be made. Such a decision means you will confront yourself every time you notice yourself thinking or feeling disempowered in your life. You will start to notice just how much you might be limiting yourself before you even begin anything. This is the difference it had made in my life:
Can you see how self-empowerment can affect your state of mind and your life? Mix this with clearly defined goals and you can feel unstoppable.
Four Stages of Designing an Extraordinary Life
Our mind responds strongly to images. It teaches us about ourselves. It feels great to have some level of control in our life and to work towards goals that are meaningful and important in our life.
We are capable of using our imagination to create any type of life we want. So why limit our imagination? Why should we let our past or perceived reality stop us from dreaming big or enjoying a happy and fulfilling life? Life is too short to live it any other way.
I believe we all deserve to experience all the wonderful things we have planned for our life. There is a deep long-lasting fulfillment by achieving our goals. In the process of achieving our goals, we will be shaped by our experiences. The more we become successful, the more we can give and contribute to others, which is better for the world.
What differentiates achieving our goals and our dreams from feeling stressed and overwhelmed (frantically trying to do it all, neglecting our well-being in favour of other responsibilities) is being clear with what we want out of life and experiencing going all in for the pursuit of our goals, so we have a better understanding in applying ourselves.
I personally use the 4 stages in designing my yearly life strategic plans to link an image to a goal to gain a clear direction for the life I desire. Some refer to this process as a vision board, but I see this process of completing the 4 stages as so much more—a mental inventory or a reminder of my goals to improve my focus and to better prioritise my actions throughout each year.
Stage 1: Start by counting your blessings
The purpose of looking back one year from the point in time when you are establishing your yearly goals is to be in a state of gratitude, regardless of the results you achieved. The point is, it is your experiences and your life no matter how good or bad they might be. Showing gratitude for your life is about appreciating your presence and the awareness you have right now. Keep your mind at ease during the whole process. Avoid getting distracted. I suggest you wake up early, so you can let your subconscious and instincts come alive during this reflection period of looking back to the year that was.
- Look at photos on your phone to remember significant moments over the past year. Note down the milestones and magic moments throughout the year by month;
- After completing your list of the year that was, notice what has been achieved and reflect on the year that was by showing appreciation.
Stage 2: Create visual clarity for each goal
The steps below require you to feel your way through it. Do not overthink it. Find images that align with your goals and your intuition in some way. The key is to focus on how an image makes you feel when you look at it. When you have an image linked to a goal, it can empower your subconscious mind to work with you (not for you) 24/7 to make your goals happen. The point is, you need to stimulate your mind with a broad range of possibilities.
When you look back at these images you collected over a period of time, they will trigger you to think more about them. Eventually, the images you collect will provide clues and will form your reasoning as to why you might want to have, be, do, or experience such things in your life.
Here’s how to go about it:
- Collect images that link to your goals: Start by collecting images that inspire you in some way, make you smile, or make you feel good. Be in a state of mind that often wonders about “what if” when looking at an image you’re considering linking to a goal. Start collecting images any way you can. For example, if you happen to be online, take a screenshot. If you happen to be reading something, cut out an image from a magazine or brochure. If you happen to be watching something on TV or YouTube, take a photo with your smart phone.
- Create categories: Place the images you collected over a period of time into relevant categories in your life. The process of creating categories is based on all the roles and responsibilities you currently play in your life or would like to play. These are the categories you make time for in your life or would like to make time for in the coming year. I keep the category names simple because for me the categories are more key words I can easily remember.
As a 48 year old male, my categories are: home (improving our living standards by renovating) , Health (maintain 75 kg, determination is your greatest asset), mind (self-directed learning), spirit (mindfulness and solitude), experience (awareness of gratitude and creation of magic moments), finance (managing cash flow and enjoying wins), leisure (organizing holidays and weekend breakfast family treats) , family (taking care of everyone), business (investing to deliver on the promises we make) wife (enjoying happiness together), parenting (have fun with my sons and provide support and guidance ).
- Each image has to feel like the right thing for you to do: As you place the images in each category, delete any image that no longer feels right for you at this stage. Also, notice categories missing in your life during this process.
- Establish specific goal conditions: When you’re done placing the images into categories, write notes in front of every image with specific conditions about bringing such a goal to life. This will help you to start thinking about the type of actions you will need to take in order to achieve such a desire. At this stage, you are exploring your desires with an image. Note: You have yet to commit to making any image into a goal.
I printed out an image of a red Tesla X car and in front of the image I wrote:
When my business increases revenue by 50%, I will put a deposit to buy a new car for my wife–a red Tesla X, long-range version with self-driving options included and with seats that do not have leather.
- Rate your desire for each goal: Review your images and rate from a scale of 1 (low desire) to 10 (high desire). Remove any image that is of low desire. Keep images that inspire you. Be mindful that too many images can make it difficult for you to feel where your true desire might be with each image. If there are any images you believe you will never be able to attain a level of desire for, write in front of the image the words, “One Day,” and then remove the image and keep it stored for your yearly review until you eventually either achieve that level of desire or genuinely no longer desire it.
- Understand why your goals are important: Behind or in front of the image or on a notepad, write a list of reasons why such a goal is important for you to achieve. A simple pros and cons list will do. Value each reason from 1 to 10 of importance (10 being the highest level of importance). The total score of pros or cons will help show you where you stand with any given goal.
With the red Tesla X for my wife
My wife is a techie
We don’t have space in our garage
She enjoys a car that is more practical
Unsure where to place the electrical charger
Red is her favorite color
She doesn’t look after her cars, which affects her resell value
This is her dream car
Stage 3: Establish your goal activity
When you do something consistently towards your goal, you will start feeling great as the days come and go throughout the year. You will start being better at managing your time, your energy, and the commitments you make. You will start gaining new skills along the way. You will make improvements that will eventually lead you to achieve your goals.
Happiness is in doing something about your goals, your desires. Once you achieve your goal, your goal turns from desire to pleasure. You move on to the next goal because it’s the journey of attainment, the struggles, the challenge, the highs and lows that provides much more excitement and growth compared to the result or the attainment of the goal.
Attainment of a goal is an active pleasure of becoming. Achievement of your goal is passive pleasure you enjoy over time. You will end up taking it for granted. But as the years come and go, the accomplishment of many such goals and desires leads to sustained fulfillment.
Here’s what you can do to work towards your goals:
- Plan around important events: Before you start allocating time towards your goals, you need to plan around important events, such as birthdays, public holidays, and other important events in your life or seasons throughout the year. By doing this, you can create a structure with your schedule. This will give you more freedom to schedule activities well in advance and with confidence.
- Visualise to accelerate your desire: Let’s assume one of your goals is to buy a new car. You can better align your feelings and reasons about why attaining that goal of buying a new car is important for you by visiting the car showroom to see the car up-close and maybe test drive it so you can feel it out.
As often as you can, spend the last hour each night before you sleep visualising and believing in your goals. Do not skip this process. It has a jet fuel effect on accelerating what you can manifest. For example, watch car review videos about the car you’re interested in on YouTube so when you sleep, you get to internalise your goal.
- Take teeny-tiny steps: Consistency and determination are key. When you put the effort and practice over time, you prove to yourself (your subconscious) that this is really important for your life and therefore, you’re doing something about your goal throughout the year. If you’re not doing anything about your goal, your subconscious that can access a higher energy will also not put in the effort to do anything in the background. For this reason, it’s best to embrace taking small steps towards your goals versus attempting to make mega steps with every effort you do in attaining your goals.
- Accept that there will be days you might not be in the mood: Even if you scheduled activities one year in advance, there will be days you might not be motivated or not be in the mood to put in the effort towards your goals. This is when you go back to your images to remind you why you have such desire for your goals. If you have enough reasons behind each goal, you will be reminded of why you want to accomplish the goal. Your visual reminder will get you back in the mood. This is something you will need to do all year round.
- Remind yourself that setbacks are inevitable and are part of any progress: Know that you’re not always going to deliver on what you said, so do not be hard on yourself. It’s okay. It’s unnecessary stress to carry the pain, burden, and regrets from the past. Learning to let go of something fast is one of life’s most important skills. Forgive yourself. It’s all good so long as you’re alive. Move on. Tomorrow is a new day. A new day equals a new go. Just keep going. Try again.
- Don’t stress over trying to control everything: Do not stress over the goals you didn’t achieve or the things that happen outside of your control. Just keep your focus on what you can control and put all your energy there.
- Remember that integrity with yourself matters most. After applying yourself or not towards achieving your goal, you may find yourself looking at a particular image that makes you feel like crap. Yes, you can replace such an image, but that’s not what I mean. It’s best that you do something about that feeling as it may suggest you might have some type of emotional block or limiting belief associated with the visual representation of that particular goal.
Stage 4: Make promises to yourself and keep them
Making promises with ourselves is of the highest importance. It is a joyful experience applying yourself, it will grow your confidence and can help build your self-belief. On the other hand, breaking promises over and over can destroy your confidence.
To avoid breaking promises with yourself, keep your promises focused on the things you can control such as the time and energy you’re willing to commit. Take the first step by scheduling it right away and doing just one activity consistently over the short term.
To manage the promises you make with yourself, manage your calendar daily. This is how you can follow through with your plans over time. Start by limiting the amount of promises to fit within a 2-hour schedule per day.
Over time, you will continuously improve and get closer towards what you want to accomplish. As you progress, you can start making more long-term promises with yourself, but keep the 2-hour per day block. Consistency over the long term is more important over volume of activity. Being too busy is not the goal.
To achieve one goal after another is to make consistent teeny tiny steps in the right direction. Over time, you will start to embrace more goals and more activities with confidence knowing that you are able to follow through.
Avoid any promises or goals with the word “should.” Should equals no invested commitment, no resolve. If it’s not a real decision, if it’s not a real desire, do not make the promise, instead start to address the issue by understanding what might be preventing you from making a solid decision.
If you find the 4 stages of designing an extraordinary life useful, I invite you to register to the Give Yourself the Fuel to Live Your Best Life Program.
In this program, you will find courses and activities that offer valuable and powerful life lessons and strategies for gaining self-awareness that you need in becoming the best version of yourself. They also help you gain clarity about what you want for your life and develop a strong mindset in overcoming any adversity.