Monday, January 2, 2012

A “Business Plan” for Life

Managers have long understood that a clearly articulated statement of organization is essential for success. Almost every successful company begins with a business plan: a description of why the company exists and how and to what end the company’s managers will organize and operate their resources. There are many ways to write a business plan but they all have the same basic components: vision & mission statement, goals, methodologies. Relatively speaking, companies (or groups or clubs, for that matter) tend to be fairly straightforward. They are created for very specific reasons: to make a profit by selling widgets or to better the world by serving soup to the hungry (needless to say, I have simplified a bit.) 

Despite what some politicians would have us believe, such organizations, while made up of people, are not actually people in and of themselves. Humans are complex. Our lives our complex. A single person has many, many goals, likes, wants, desires. All of which are in constant flux, changing and evolving over time. While some folks achieve greatness through serendipity (like the person I met at the sales conference last week who won $270,000 playing nickel slots – true story!) most of us will not be so “blindly fortunate.” We will have to work, and work hard, to achieve success. This will be greatly aided if we know what the desired outcomes are.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, the rich fullness of our existence is not likely to be contained by a simple organizational statement. However, we can borrow from what business managers have learned and create our own perfectly tailored life-plans. 

It won’t be easy and it will require some attention but the pay off will be huge and the results will be visible almost immediately.

Over the past 10 weeks I have spent some time each day thinking about my life, how I want it to be organized and what I hope to accomplish. I have thought about my relationships, my health, my career, my hobbies; things that interest me; things that I wish interested me but don't (and what my motivations are for wanting to be interested as well as the reasons that I happen not to be.) On average I have managed anywhere between 30 – 90 minutes a day on this project. I have spent time thinking, journaling, and reviewing. I also have a separate but related project to take that content and edit, repurpose and publish it on this blog. 

In following from the ideas that I have written about in previous posts, I began by creating a list of everything that was important to me, everything I valued. This list was long and covered everything from Universal Health Coverage to the smell of freshly baking bread. Each day I would review this list, adding to it, prioritizing it, and grouping entries into shared categories. The outcome was a comprehensive but somewhat vague outline of the issues, topics and values that were important to me. 

A great first step, but still a far cry from a Life-Plan.

I then started to think about what I actually meant by each item. Writing about, and in the process, clarifying and refining my thoughts as to what exactly it was that was important to me and why.

I am not done. This sort of “soul searching” takes time. But it is also an on-going process. Even after I finish an acceptable first draft, I expect that I will want to regularly review and course correct.

As I formed my values-list and my descriptions, I realized that there were some themes that ran through it. Some through-lines that were unique to me, my life experience, my personal expression of self. I decided to try to organize these themes as a top line overview and created 3 short statements: Mission, Attitudes, Perspective.

What will follow in subsequent posts are excerpts from the first step of my Life-Plan: My Value Statement.

From the Zone…


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