How to Create The Life You Desire
Happy New Year! Are you a person who writes goals? I’ve been writing resolutions since I was a kid. My mom always wrote her resolutions (lose weight, quit smoking, etc.) at the kitchen table on a little notepad where she kept her to-do list. She said when she was little she used to wake up early with her dad and they would write them together.
In middle age I stumbled into vision boards. You put pictures of whatever it is you want on a poster and look at it every day so your mind is working on it subconsciously. I never got to the cutting out pictures part, but when I was on a mission to lose weight and fix my messy life in the process, I’d pretend my life was a movie poster. I could clearly see standing in the middle, looking strong and fit, holding my kids and my husband’s hand (and the personal trainer was behind me). That became the cover of my memoir, She’s Losing It.
A few years ago I attended a Texas Women In Business seminar and one of the keynote speakers said she and her husband made a 20-year plan and that blew me away. Also, I’m mindful of the quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Obviously, the pandemic threw the world off for a few years and all you have to do is turn on the news to see how precarious life really is, but I do like the concept of a 20-year plan because it reveals your hopes and fears. For example, when my husband and I did this exercise I put our ages 20 years from now and panic fell across his face. “I don’t want to still be swinging a hammer at 74.” (We flip real estate.) That realization led to us selling our business and setting aside money for our kids to go to college. It also helped us determine a number in our head of how much money we would need to eventually retire.
Benefits of Goal Setting
- Motivate you to improve. With effort and a little luck you can go a long way.
- Provide clarity of what you want. Instead of wishing something would happen, you decide what steps you’re going to take to get the life you want.
- They can give you a sense of accomplishment. Did you ever see someone’s face after running a marathon? Even after running 26.2 miles over several hours, they often are beaming when they cross that finish line. Why? Because they did something hard.
Here’s how to write a 20 Year Plan.
Yes, start at the end and then work backwards. Think of Year 20 as what your life looks like if you won the happiness lottery.
- Write your age at that time
- Write the age of anyone else in your family if you want to include them in your planning
- What does your family look like now? How do you relate to each other?
- How much money do you earn? How much is saved?
- Where are you living? What does your home look like? Do you travel?
- What’s your career? Do you have a specific job title? Do you own your own business? Or are you retired? If so, how do you fill your time?
- What impact are you having on your community? (Do you volunteer, donate or mentor?)
- Is your life joyful? What does that look like?
- If your life were made into a movie twenty years from now, what the movie poster look like? Who’s in the poster with you?
Years 15, 10 and 5
Think backwards in five year increments. What steps do you need to take to achieve the vision of your future life? Here are some areas to consider writing goals about:
- Health/wellness. Are you exercising? How often? Are you doing healthy things that you enjoy, like taking a dance class, gardening or learning how to cook? Is there an event you want to train for and complete, like a marathon, Spartan race, or bodybuilding competition?
- Finance. Are you debt free? If not, do you want to be? If so, what steps can you do to increase your revenue and/or decrease your expenses? How can you educate yourself about money?
- Career. Are you doing a job you love? If not, why not? What can you do to increase your skills or start your own business or improve the value of whatever products or services you offer? If you want to switch jobs or switch careers do you have an exit strategy from your current employment?
- Relationships. Are your relationships loving and healthy? If not, how can you improve them? Are there some toxic relationships that might be better left behind? How much effort are you investing into relationships with your partner, kids, extended family, friends? How do you define a good relationship with this person?
- Spirituality and Fun. What brings you inner peace? Is it taking a long walk in nature? Painting a picture? Saying a prayer? We can get bogged down by the details of life and pursuing our own achievements.
- Take a cold hard look at the above mentioned areas of your life (health/wellness, finance, career, relationships, spirituality and fun) and give each area a score from 1-10 (1 = this area sucks right now, 10 = super happy with it).
- Look at your calendar and your bank account. Where you spend your time and your money tells you exactly what is important to you at this moment in your life. If you are happy with your schedule and finances, great! You are on the right track. If you don’t like what you are currently doing, take steps to change it.
- Focus on one or two areas where you can make the biggest impact in your life. Maybe your finances and career are 10s but it puts your relationships and spirituality/fun at level 2. What changes would improve those areas?
- Look at the high scoring areas and take a moment to feel grateful. And if you’re in a rut (as most people fall into from time to time) remember that your current situation is temporary. You are in the driver seat of your life. Sure, obstacles will pop up on the road, but you get to decide how you deal with them.
Now that you have a clear idea of what you want your life to look like, map it out. How will you get there?
- Get Help. Do you need a therapist to help with your marriage or manage anxiety? Or a financial advisor who can help you set up a payment plan or a budget to get debt-free or make bigger investments? Will a personal trainer or dietician help you meet your fitness goals?
- Educate Yourself. Whatever area of life you focus on, become an apt pupil. Read books. Speak to mentors who have already navigated that area. Take online courses. Learn all the tips and tricks and hacks so you can reach your goal.
- Break Down Your Plan Into Bite-size pieces. Set monthly goals that align with your big picture. Schedule weekly and daily tasks to get you there.
- Post Your Goals Where You Will See Them. I post my goals in my bathroom. If nothing else, it’s an interesting conversation starter when guests visit. But if I look at my goals daily, they tend to get done (eventually.)
Have you heard the serenity prayer? It was written by the Lutheran theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and goes, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This year, design the life you want to live. Take steps to achieve it and help others along the way.
Happy New Year.
Here’s my story. Available at Amazon.
Copyright (c) Lisa Traugott 2024. All rights reserved.