So, why do you need a plan for life? After all, things change. Life happens.
Well, yes and no.
During 35 years in the advertising and public relations business I developed hundreds of marketing plans for my clients to help them reach their sales, marketing, and branding goals. These plans were often quite detailed and included elements such as a Mission Statement, timelines, budgets, strategic goals and programs, and tactical actions steps.
A few clients eschewed strategic planning and decided to simply react to market forces. It’s a popular direction for companies that don’t want to put in the time, thought or financial investment a plan requires.
The clients who created research-based, intelligently designed strategic marketing programs with detailed tactics invariably came closer to reaching their goals…every time. In many cases they exceeded their goals in such spectacular fashion that it changed the entire future of their company…positively affecting the lives of thousands of people.
A well-directed life based upon a plan will do the same for you. Yes, you won’t reach every goal. And you will need to do course-corrections along the way as life unfolds. But you will come closer to reaching your goals in life with a plan. And you may exceed your goals in ways you can’t even imagine.
Chef and writer Anthony Bourdain always wanted to combine his love of food with his love of writing. He achieved this with his insider look at what goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant…the book A Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. The success of this book led to an offer from the Food Network to host his own food and travel show. This led to more books and TV shows. He even met his wife while on assignment for his show.
It all began with his focus on creating a career based upon what he loved to do. He started with an education from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978. Then he worked as the chef at several restaurants in New York, eventually becoming the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in 1998. Two years later he launched his writing career, using twenty years of insider knowledge to create a New York Times bestseller.
This is how it works. Do what you love. Get good at what you love. Build upon what you love. Then capitalize on what you love. For Bourdain the opportunities that have unfolded are beyond his wildest dreams.
Success is within the grasp of anyone who has goals and plans for achieving them.
Here are the advantages of creating A Plan for Life.
1. FOCUS. It’s well known that what you focus on you will attract. A plan helps sharpen your focus to bring into your life all the many disparate things that will help create what you desire. Once you set the priorities that are important to you, it’s difficult for any distractions to gain traction. A plan filters out the irrelevant and amplifies the important things along your path in life.
2. ACTION. A plan for life creates action. Once you know what you’ve got to do to achieve your dreams it’s fairly easy to begin the process of doing what’s needed to make it happen. Do you want to become a doctor? You can begin researching schools, find out what you need to study, and begin to reorder your life to support this dream. Want to retire at 50? You can easily find out when and how to begin saving to make that happen. You may decide to live far below your means to achieve your goal.
Taking action also builds confidence…the catalyst for achieving positive outcomes. People are attracted to confident people. And the simple act of doing something to advance toward your dreams creates optimism. Numerous studies show that optimistic people are more successful in life.
3. CONTROL. Most people suffer from a vague dissatisfaction in life because they feel out of control. Many older people are disappointed because their life didn’t turn out like they had hoped when they were young. They are angry at themselves for not intelligently pursuing their dreams. It is the #1 regret of people on their death bed. A plan provides a sense of mastery over your fate. In long-term studies of college grads who launched their life with a plan…versus those who didn’t…most of those with a plan reached, exceeded or at least came close to realizing their dreams. Those without a plan almost never did.
Economist Lawrence Kotlikoff and financial writer Scott Burns, authors of Spend ‘til the End: The Revolutionary Guide to Raising Your Living Standard—Today and When You Retire, say “Collectively, we like to fly blind. We hop into our life. We gun the engine, race down the runway, and take off without any notion of where we are going—or how we will get there.”
Which is why most people end up crashing and burning in life.
Start as soon as possible in life…even if you’re 65 years old…to plan the rest of your life. You won’t regret it.