My Plan For Life
Have you ever wondered how those people that really get it or “Make-It-Happen” go through the process of doing that?
Here at Tech-Prize, we’ve met some outstanding people in our lives. We’ve asked a lot of questions. As we did that, we found that the people that created success, to their definition, don’t get there by mistake.
They made a decision, they made a plan, they fought through the challenges we all run into.
The one thing they all said is “the process” was the fun of life. Of all that learning, we will boil down the “Life Plan” that creates success into a few basic steps.
How to create a Life Plan
Create your statement – this is a sentence that captures who you are and where you want to go in the future. In big words, this is referred to as the “Vision”. Your statement of the future.
- I will change the world by creating innovation that helps people through technology
- I will become the best version of “Me” I can be by focusing on my priorities of life: Faith, Family, Character, Results, and Fun
- I will be the best _________________ (fill in the blank)
- Your Version…………………?
Create your Values – Do you ever notice that some people just make good decisions? They seem to know what to do and when to do it. They seldom make decisions that don’t make sense. How is it they do that? To make decisions in the future effectively, you need to decide “How” you are going to make those decisions today. A lot of those things come down to “Value-Based” judgments. The point being, “I have to define the values that I want to make my decisions by now so that I can make my decisions based on those things tomorrow”.
How do I do that?
Values are those guiding principles that keep us out of the ditch and up on top of the road as we travel through life. Every one of us makes decisions based on these things, but sometimes we don’t realize we’re doing it. If we stop and think about those values and list them out, then we stand a better chance of making our decisions based on those things. We also will be much stronger in resisting the social forces that try to influence us away from those things.
- Faith – Understand why we are here. Understand what happens at the end of our time on this earth. Understand how the life we live and the decisions we make determine what happens next.
- Family – I will respect my elders, my parents, my friends, and acquaintances in the way I want them to respect and treat me. I will set an example in the way I live my life, the decisions I make so that others see me that they can use what I do as a foundation that they can rely on.
- Culture – I will focus on the things that are right in the world and not on the things that tear other people down. I will praise in public and criticize in private. I will celebrate life every day, be glad I’m here and make sure I carry the energy that others can benefit from. I will take care of myself in a way that protects my mind, body, and soul. That includes rest, food, exercise, and how I spend my time.
- Hard Work – I will commit to myself to do the things necessary to make my life what I want for both me personally and for those I choose to be around me. Hard work is both rewarding and fun. People that don’t get that are not the people I will choose to be around.
- Fun – I will live life to the fullest. Laughter and joy are some of the best medicines in life. Have fun every day, in every task. Work is only “bad” if you have a mindset it is. Simply decide to enjoy and Have Fun!
How do you have fun?
Fun in life is not about a specific event. If you choose to base your definition of “fun” on that special event, you cannot create enough of those to feel “Happy” in life. Fun is a view on how you handle life overall. Sometimes that best starts with deciding how you will handle the challenging things and what you will do about those. Start with – I will not allow the stresses of the world to get me down. Instead, I’ll look at those things as learning experiences. What happened? Why did that happen? If I want a different result next time, what should I change? (this is the learning process). Other mindsets of “fun” – I will celebrate the success of all those around me. I will live humbly and let others celebrate me if I do something well. I do not need external validation for who I am because I am living the life I believe is right. While I do that, I will seek mentors that have walked the path I want to walk so that I can learn from them.
Those “Values” above are examples of what several of us choose to use as our values and they’re pretty good examples. Please know each of us aspires, and sometimes falls short of those ideals. When we do, we admit we fell short, apologize if we hurt someone, and work to make a better decision the next time that choice comes up. These values come from a lot of people that have come before us. Learn from those you see around you that you believe “Get it”. Study everything you can read. Have fun!
Yours “Values” may be different than what is here. What is important is that you stop and define your values, that you will live your life by. Your decisions will improve for taking that step.
One other thing that really sticks with me is that in certain cultures, the family name is one of the utmost “things” that should be protected. You only have one family name. Every decision you make reflects not only on you personally, but also on your family. Remember that. Work every day to make decisions and take actions that bring honor to your family name. That doesn’t mean you have to be “Better” than your neighbor. It simply means to live life, day to day, in a way that honors your family. When you do that, you will always win.
Create your “Mission” in life – The mission is “the reason you are here, the reason you exist, the objectives you pursue in your life”. These will vary for every one of us. Don’t be tempted to look at someone else’s version. Stop, consider who you are, and create your own. Ideas about “Why we are here” can get very philosophical and also spiritual. Don’t shy away from that. These are the big questions of life.
You have to answer these big questions for yourself to know who you are today and whom you want to become.
- To serve and honor my creator
- To serve and honor my family and friends
- To live my life as an example to others of making the right choices, regardless of how hard that may be at the time :-).
- To create success for both myself and those around me
- To change the world for the better in my own way (insert your example)
Your mission (the reason you exist), must be yours.
Don’t let your friends decide it for you. Seek mentors, seek advice, learn every day. Your reason to exist must be yours, that you will live, that you are committed to enable.
My “Life Line” – Creating a high-level plan for your life, for yourself, is one of the best steps that any person can take. Sit down by yourself someplace quiet, when no one is going to interrupt you. Take a piece of paper and draw a line across the middle from left to right. On the left put the day you were born. On the right put a check when you pass from this earth as we know it. Everything in the middle is available to you to do what you want with it. Stop, Evaluate, Decide. Write those things down when you want them to happen. Then take the steps required to make those things happen.
Regardless of who we are or where we come from, we are born with all the opportunities in the world. At some point, we will all pass from this earth. At that point, we will meet our maker. Stock will be taken of the things that happened while we were here. What happens next, in the afterlife, will be based on that evaluation.
Success is good. Living your life to achieve success is good.
Make sure you do it the right way!
Once you’ve created the big pieces, then you start to think about “How” you make those things happen, and perhaps even more important is “What not to do”. This discussion gets a whole lot more detailed, but that is how we go through life.
How do I make things happen?
What Should I do to enable Success? To have the great life, that I want to experience, there are a lot of steps. The biggest key is to not focus on any specific goal, but enjoy the whole journey. With that said, there are “things” needed to do to enable those steps. Examples include:
- I want to go to college! What do you need to make that happen? That means I need to do well in High School. For some that is not that big a deal, because they discipline themselves to understand what is required. Others struggle in that process. The point for you is to figure out what is needed for you to achieve your goals. One of the things I said to my kids was “getting an A in a class simply meant that you understood what the instructor was trying to get through to you. If you get less than that, then you missed a lot of what they were trying to get you to learn. Figure out where you are in that curve. Work with the teachers and students that seem to get it. See what others are doing. Remember, you also have to make the decision to “do it right”. Short cuts or cheating only hurts you in the long run.
- I want a great job! What do you need to make that happen? I probably need to do well in school. I should seek “Experiences” that align with what I’m wanting to do. Those don’t have to be “Paid Jobs”. They can be mentoring relationships you develop for the things you are interested in. With that said, gain practical experience in the area of your interest. Volunteer, get a job in that area, ready, study, learn, practice, experience the things you will be doing in the future. Those steps is what gets people hired.
- I want to start a business! What do you need to make that happen? This is a really fun topic. It is not easy. It is probably the hardest of the choices. There is much greater “risk” for failure. There are also much greater “rewards”. The first thing you should do if you want to start a business is to minimize the “Burn Rate” of your life. Meaning, live a minimal existence. Don’t “burn” your resources at a rate that is greater than you can manage. Live simply, don’t take out loans, find a modest place to live, car to drive, clothes to wear. You will have to sacrifice to save. That means you are not going out all the time, you probably aren’t taking that fancy vacation. Instead you are saving those funds to give you the living money and capital to start your business.
- Next you need the “Idea”. It may be something brand new, it may be an improvement on an existing product or service. Perhaps you are working to buy or take over someone else’s business they are running. The bottom line is you must have a relatively “unique” good or service that people will want. Once you develop that, you must then launch in a way that ensure your success. The whole Tech-Prize process is designed to work through these steps and challenges. We won’t go further here.
- I want to have a great family! There is nothing more rewarding in life than this step. I can’t imagine my life without my wife, my children, and now my grand children. When I was 22 years old, I was traveling with a fellow that was about to retire. His name was Joe. We were chatting as we were driving. The discussion came around to family. He asked me if I wanted to have kids. I said, “sure, when the tie is right”. He got really quiet for a couple of minutes and he then said to me in the most sincere tone he could take “It’s all about family. You should have all the kids you can have. When you hit my point in life, it’s the thing in this world that matters the most. You can tell it impacted me as I remember it. I will say I didn’t really understand it then, but I fully understand it now. Family is a big deal.
- Selecting your life partner, your spouse, is a big deal. Have your eyes open as you are doing it. It’s not about physical attractiveness or that you are both great at something. It’s about that person being your best friend, the person you want to live your life with, the person that, when it gets bad (and it will), you will say, “I’m not going away, I’m not giving up, we’ll get through this”. Views on Faith are big deals. Understand those things in advance. Make sure you align on those points. Life throws you all sorts of crazy things. Suppose one of you gets sick (cancer), injured, has mental illness or a host of other things that can happen. Is this the person that will work you through all that? You are also marrying your partners family. You are committing to love and support them and them with you. Those are the things you select your life partner by. Does the person you are thinking about meet those criteria with you? Are you committed to work through things together, in sickness and in health, till death do you part? These are “the” really big decisions of your life on this earth. Everything else pales in comparison. Be intentional. Have your eyes open. Make those decisions, leaning on your values in the strongest of ways.
The approach for this section was to define what you want to happen, identify what is required, seek people that have been there before to advise you and then take the specific steps required to make those things happen. The next step is to specifically decide what you will not do.
What should I “Not Do” to ensure success?
While you “have to do” the things above, you also have to ensure you avoid making decisions that create the big problems or distractions. Some of the big questions:
- Do I get involved with Drugs? I’ve never met anyone that takes drugs or is involved with drugs that it has not made an absolute mess of themselves, in different ways. There seems to be no escaping this. Just make the decision now – don’t do it. The worst thing is, you might like how the drugs make you feel for a period of time. What then? It only gets worse.
- Do I have sex before I’m married? We can all probably state the faith based view on this that sexual intimacy is intended for a married couple. It is, without question, a great experience that brings a couple closer together, along with many other great things. There is a practical answer as well. Anyone can get along having sex. The problem is that it really clouds judgement. It’s hard to get to the real person if that is going on. You have to decide who you are and who the person you want to be with is before you should ever even think about that kind of thing. There are also a host of other things that can come out of that like; children, disease, mental stress and other challenges. The current rate of single parents in our nation is one of the most challenging situations of the world we live in. A single parent has to make a living for their family. Who is raising the child? Are those people doing the mentoring a young person needs to grow up and create more success? The bottom line is, all of those bad things can be avoided by choosing to abstain from pre-marital sex. The people that make that decision will never regret it. The people that make the other decision often regret that approach.
- Do I make decisions that don’t follow my values? While this seems like an obvious discussion, it really is an important point. Everyone of us attempts to do the right thing every day. We will inevitably fall short at some time. Learn from that. Recognize what you want to change. Don’t make that same mistake again.
- There are a host of other things you will need to decide to “Not do”. Think about your list so that you are prepared for those challenges and have pre-decided how you choose when that decision faces you. If something comes up that you have not prepared for, Stop!, Pause!, Consider!, before making that decision
Putting it all together – The next step in this process is taking your work and putting it all together so that you can see it simply on one page, explain it to yourself and to any others you might want to understand your plan.
Now that you have it together, you need a place to keep it. Go buy yourself a really nice binder our journal (Make it nice, leather, something you will cherish and obviously would never want to lose).
Organize it as follows:
Page 1 – Title – My Life Plan – your name
Page 2 – Your notes and conclusions on creating your “Vision” (Your statement of your future)
Page 3 – Your notes and conclusions on creating your “Values” (the guideposts you will make decisions by)
Page 4 – Your notes on creating your “Mission” (the reason you exist)
Page 5 – Your Lifeline (the visual plan of your life, rough dates things should happen, what you need to do enable and what you should make sure you do not do
Page 6 – Your 1 page summary
Page 7 – Your plan to come back and review – Plan to come back on New Years Day every year. Take stock of your plan, how you are doing and make adjustments as you go. You will get a kick out of explaining to your kids and others how your plan changed through time as you grew in wisdom and knowledge.
When should I do this?
Creating “Your Life Plan” is both an extremely complex, but incredibly simply topic. We should all do it wherever we are in our own lives. With that said, when a person is entering middle school, they are aware enough to work through this. A few things we know about people that will help with this:
- 3rd Grade reading literacy in a community determines the number jail cells in that community for long term planning. Focus on children early (Yours and others)
- Culture is set by parents at a very early age. The foundations of “Values” must be taught in the home. If you are single parent, you still have to find a way to do those things. If you are a young person that is not getting that mentoring, then you must take it on yourself to find “others” who will help you learn those things the right way. If you are privileged to live in a home where that is happening, congratulations. Make sure you make your friends a part of your process (Adult or youth).
- The cultural things will carry a person to middle school. At that point, the person needs to be aware and start making decisions about who they want to be.
- If you are starting this process later in life, that is great as well. The earlier a person starts, the easier it is to get it right and not make the big decisions poorly that distract or even really hurt you along the way.
The big thing is just to do it, no matter where we are in life.
If you are married now, consider doing it with your spouse. If you are thinking of getting married, do it with your significant other. If you are younger, do it on your own. Once you get through it, bounce it off people you respect. The term “Wisdom” is often associated with “age”. People gain wisdom through time. When you speak with someone older, that you believe has it figured out, they got there through their own set of experiences. Ask them what they got right, what they got wrong, what they would do again, what they would change. Absorb those learnings and reflect on those things for yourself.
One thing we know about life is “things happen”. How are you going to respond when those things happen? If it’s great, how will you respond? If it’s terrible, how will you respond. Keep life in perspective. All of those things are going to happen along life’s journey. Enjoy each step. Celebrate the great things, learn from the bad things. But above all, “Enjoy”!