Most of us plan reasonably well: we easily decide what to wear in the morning, what to have for dinner in the evening, what route to take to work. We also plan without too much difficulty the tasks of our jobs: how we prioritize our to-do lists, the most efficient ways to get things done…

But many of us fall short when it comes to taking a longer-term view of our lives. Granted, this doesn’t apply to everyone: some of us are better than others with this level of planning – but if you were to ask around (and people were completely honest with their responses), you’d likely find that a lot of us really are lacking in this area.

A friend of mine, who had worked in a nursing home, told me once that she had come to realize an important difference between the happy tenants in the home and the ones who seemed depressed: the unhappy ones failed to plan, she said. Not just financially, but in any way.

So what is your strategic and tactical plan for creating a fulfilling life? In other words, what is your long-term vision (for your health, your relationships, your financial situation, your legacy…) – and what goals do you need to set out to help realize that vision?

Operationally, what do you need to be doing now – what habits, skills, and relationships do you need to cultivate? What resources do you need to accomplish your goals?

And what is your control system (i.e., when you get off track, how do you measure your results and get refocused)? Do you have a contingency plan?

These questions may seem daunting – but as they say, “the devil (or God) is in the details”. How specific you get with your plan is entirely up to you: we all have different preferences and needs, and there’s no one right way to tackle this. You may set very clear 1, 2, 5, and 10-year SMART Goals for your life, for example; or you may stay at the visionary level and let the details take care of themselves (perhaps using a Vision Board as a tool).

Or better yet, you might use a combination of these approaches.

It’s very rewarding to find that balance between a disciplined approach to life and not taking the whole thing too seriously. It’s also empowering to be able to take control over what we can in our lives, while understanding the virtues of surrender. The creation of a flexible and evolving life plan helps us to honor and integrate these perspectives, as well as develop a clarity of intention and a stronger sense of purpose and hope.

Author's Bio: 

Chris Hammer, Ph.D. is a certified professional coach and licensed psychologist. He offers leadership and life coaching services, as well as various self-development tools for people who are passionate about reaching higher levels of success and becoming the best they can be.

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