And then everything changed

Montag, 11. Juli 2016

How to plan your life

I am turning 25 this weekend. Now, this doesn't mean that I am a pro at life and at being an adult. Not at all. To be honest, most times I feel utterly lost. I feel like all I do is to put one foot in front of the other without knowing where I'm going. This is why recently I made a 5-year-plan. It helps me to be able to see my goals written down and to have an idea of the direction I'm heading. To plan your life might seem a bit neurotic but believe me, it's extremely relieving. Here's how to do it.

1. Write down each and every little thing you ever want to achieve.

Take your time with this step. Take an afternoon, sit down somewhere quiet and really think about what kind of life you want to live. Not just today or in 5 years but forever. What do you want to achieve, what places do you want to see, what kind of person do you want to become? It might be hard at first to figure out what you want out of life, but it doesn't have to be so complicated. Think about what makes you happy. Now: what would have to change, so that you're even happier? Do you have ideals or are their certain jobs or lifestyles you admire?

Write it all down. Even if it's unrealistic or if you're not really sure if you really want it. Even if it'll take 40 years to achieve or if it's something you already do. This step is all about brainstorming. There might be huge goals like publishing a book or travelling around the world. But there can also be little goals like brushing your teeth every night or eating more vegetables. Also, don't get too distracted by the things you don't have. You should also think about the things you do have and which make your life richer. You will want to maintain these things, may it be a relationship, an attitude or a habit, to maintain something is a goal, too. Write it down. If you are in your 20s or 30s this may also be the time to think about the big questions, f.e. if you want to have children. If you're not sure yet, that's fine, too. Just write down: Decide if I want to have children.

Just collect everything that comes to mind.

2. Sort your goals into categories.

This is something, I personally find very helpful to not get confused and to bring a bit of structure into your plan. I sort all my goals (big and small, easy and hard) into categories: finances, career, family, love, health, travel, sport, hobbies, fun and special projects. Depending on your priorities and interests, you can choose other categories. F.e. spirituality is another possible category.

3. Color code.

The next step is to group your goals. First, go through them again. Think about each one and ask yourself: Do I really want this? And is it possible to achieve this goal in the next 5 years? If you answer one of these questions with No, then put this goal in breaks. You should also consider, that even if it is possible to achieve a certain goal within 5 years, you might want to go after another dream first because it's more important to you right now. Don't make your 5 years too full. Be realistic. You can do anything, but you cannot do everything.

Now, look at the remaining 5-year-goals. Probably there are goals wich belong together, where some smaller goals are steps on the journey towards achieving a bigger goal. F.e. your main goal may be to get into journalism. You might have also written down the goal to do an internship with a newspaper or to write and publish that article on the interesting life story your friend told you about. Those two smaller goals are steps on the journey towards being successul as a journalist. You can highlight all goals which belong together and complement each other in one color. By this you can group together blocks of dreams and ideas and soon you will see some big goals evolving from the mess.

I also highlight all the "maintain this thing" goals in one color and put them into a seperate list as a reminder of what I should take good care of.

4. Write down your big goals.

Again, don't chose too many goals. I have chosen one goal in each category, while some are a lot bigger than others. How many goals you want to achieve is your choice, just make sure that you write down things which are possible in 5 years and which you really want. Picture yourself having reached your goal. Will it fullfill you?

5. Create a timeline.

The next step is to decide for each goal when you want to achieve it. Some goals might already have a date of probable achievement. F.e. you might have already planned that backpacking trip though Asia with your friends for 2018, so put it down for 2018. Other goals might be small or you have already started on going after them, so you can write them down for this or next year. Other goals will seem like huge projects. If you're not sure how long it will take, write it down at the 5-year-mark, 2021. You can always achieve it earlier but this will give you some air.

Once you have figured out when you want to achieve your big goals, break them down into years. If you want to travel in 2018, you should start saving money this year, plan your trip next year and make further preparations at the beginning of 2018, a couple of months before your trip. Do this with every goal you have. Create a timeline and also include the smaller goals which belong to the journey towards the main goal.

6. Plan your next year.

Congratiolations, you now have a 5-year-plan and it feels kind of awesome, right? But it can also feel really overwhelming, if you don't focus on the near future first. Take a look at your time line. Which steps are on your plan for 2016. Make them into your (belated) New Years Resolutions or how I like to call them Manifestations. Of course you can also include other smaller goals which are important to you right now.

I plan my Manifestations of a year in monthly steps. So for each Manifestation I write down what I have to do each month of the year in order to get where I want at the end of the year. From now on you can do this every year.

7. Check your plan regularily.

The great thing about having a life plan is that you don't have to constantly think about what your next step is and what you want to do with your future. You can live your life and enjoy the now and every now and then check up with your plan to see if you're at the right track. I check my Manifestations at least once a month to see what I have to do this month and then I plan when exactly I will take care of the nessecary things.

8. Don't be a planning nazi.

To have a plan feels great. But: Don't follow it stupidly. Your plan is not set in stone. You can always, always change it. Yes, you have dreams you will never give up on. But things might look different in a year or two. You might find that what you thought you wanted, isn't really what makes you happy anymore. Things which were important to you might now be less important and other things have taken their place. Life is full of suprises and oppurtunities which can lead your life into a totally different direction than where you thought it was going but this doesn't mean that it will be any less magical. So check up with your plan every now and then and ask yourself if the goals you've written down are still what you want. If not, feel free to change them. If they are still what you want, go after them.

Do you have a life plan? What do you think is important when planning your future?

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