When people talk about life planning – what exactly do they mean?
Are you one of the people who the world happens to and you just “go with the flow” or do you take the world by the scruff of the neck and bend it to your will?
If you are the first but would like to be the second… you need to start by looking at life planning, this should help to galvanise your thoughts around ‘what do you want to get out of life’ and in turn this will help you to define strategies to achieve this.
Use a technique called ‘results reviewing’ which looks back from a PERFECT end result and analyses what steps you hypothetically took to ensure you got there.
At its most basic ‘results review life planning’ can be approached from 2 directions;
The first way looks at the JOB and then assigns rewards and style of life as a result of the job
The second looks at the DESIRED STYLE OF LIFE and chooses a job which can deliver the rewards.
There is no right or wrong approach, you just have to decide which is right for you at this moment in time [it could and will change from time to time]
Having decided what you ultimately want and at what age you want to reach this point, the questions you need to answer are:-
- What skills and knowledge do you need to achieve this lifestyle successfully?
- What skills and knowledge do you have now?
- How do you plan to cover the gaps in your knowledge and skills?
- How much time do you have at your disposal to ‘plug the gaps’?
- Is your plan realistic or do you need to amend it?
Job life cycles and the shape is the same no matter what the job:-
- You inherit a plan,
- Operate the plan,
- Review the plan,
- Formulate your plan,
- Execute your plan and then
- Review it before setting a new plan.
The time scale at each level does change. A junior job tends to be a short cycle, whilst the more senior the role the longer the job cycle.
The principle of the plan is that the higher up the ‘job tree’ you get the fewer opportunities there are and the longer the life cycle of the job.
The principle of ‘Life planning’
The principle of ‘Life planning’ is that one looks backwards from the successful completion before detailed examination of what steps you took in order to become successful.
Decide which approach you want to take, Job centric or Life style centric.
Having done that, the next steps should flow automatically.
You need to decide what you want to be/do – and commit it to paper!
You do need to be explicit about what it is that you want to achieve and the timescales.
This is the hard bit, don’t get discouraged for as the Chinese philosopher Laozi is quoted as saying “even a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step”
Remember SMASH objectives [Specific Measurable, Achievable, Stretching, Harmonious]. You can try several alternative outcomes and follow each one through the same process. Once you feel comfortable with the outcome, i.e. what you have, what you are, how you want to be remembered. You can go into the detail of what you did to make the end result possible, you can even start to plan time scales to make it happen.
‘The Cherry Effect’ is a phenomena which explains that even in a noisy crowd, you will still hear your own name being spoken, there are several other example such as when you buy a red car, you suddenly begin to see red cars everywhere… You will be amazed at how, once you have decided on a route to be taken and timescales, you will suddenly notice opportunities which will help you achieve or maintain this route and timescale.
Committing your plan to paper:
The hard part will be committing this plan to paper rather than formulating it in your head, I suggest you set aside specific time to achieve this and set yourself some deadlines. It is only by committing your plan to paper that the desires can be crystallised and you can measure progress against the plan and indeed amend or review the plan in its totality.It’s also only by committing the plan to paper that you can crystallise the detail in order to discuss it and its implications with your boss and significant others, this in turn may help to refine the plan.
Having identified your ‘Life Goal’ and or the things that will make you happy in your ‘Life Goal’, the next things to establish are the ‘Skills’ and ‘Behaviours’ you will need to exhibit to succeed in this role. Many of these you will already have, but the idea is to highlight any areas of opportunity which can be addressed or strengthened to the required level before you get to the ultimate life goal.
You can check how realistic your ambition is, by looking at what you have to acquire to deliver your ultimate life goal job, and how long you have until you need to be in the job;
Make a list of all the potential ways you can acquire the skills you need from your current job. If this is a work related change, you could choose to discuss this with your manager in order that you are considered for projects which might come up from time to time. Other options are to identify, as best you can [there may be some research needed here], other work channels which can deliver the best mix of exposure to skills required and the delivery of the life style you desire. This should indicate where to look for jobs which match your needs e.g. If you need man-management experience, you can get it quickest in a channel which uses lots of people on a hire and fire basis, this will give the deepest grounding and the fastest job cycle, inherit, train, council, release and recruit etc. This may not suit everyone’s approach!
e.g. If you were a 32 year old National Account Manager now and you want to be Managing Director of a £100M Turn over company by the time you are 45, that leaves you 13 years,
Assuming you need Man management, Finance, Logistics and Political skills in that time you could take a low level Area Sales Managers job (18-24 months Life Cycle) – giving man management skills; a Business Controller job (36 – 60 months Life Cycle) – giving higher level man management, exposure to finance and political skills; Sales Director (60 months minimum Life Cycle) – giving political, financial and logistics exposure; Some of these positions could be 2 or 3 different positions at one level or even companies. This will elongate the time frames, but may put you in a better position to attain your ultimate ‘Life Goal’ job.
Do be aware that your ‘Life Plan’ will change from time to time and there may be needs for short and long term compromise. It is important that you revisit your ‘Life Plan’ at regular intervals to check your progress and re-assess what is important to you.
I do hope this makes sense, if you have any questions, queries or suggestions please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
…there is always MoreThan1Answer…