Creating a Life Plan
With New Year’s right around the corner, many people are thinking about the goals they want to set for the upcoming year. However, 80% of those people who make New Year’s resolutions will fail by the second week in February (Ma, 2020). So, why do so many people give up after just a few weeks? This is largely due to lack of consistency, setting vague goals, setting unattainable goals, setting goals they don't really care about, a lack of flexibility, or not tracking goals.
This journal challenge is going to walk you through how to set up a life plan journal that will help you set and track your goals throughout the year.
Step 1: What is a life plan journal?
In short, a life plan journal is a journal where you set goals, develop action plans to meet those goals, and track your progress. Your journal should include information for all areas of your life – faith, health, family, relationships, work, finances, hobbies, self-development, and home.
Step 2: Faith
Spiritual goals are often overlooked, but they are the most important goals you can set. Spiritual goals may include things like improving your prayer life, reading your Bible more, participating in Bible studies, attending church regularly, serving in the church, or being intentional about your giving.
Step 3: Health
Health goals should consider your physical health as well as your mental and emotional health. Physical health goals may address diet, exercise, sleep, or alcohol/tobacco/drug use. Mental and emotional health goals may include self-care, mindfulness, meditation, vacations, counseling, or journaling.
Step 4: Family
Include goals for your marriage, children, and any close relatives such as parents, in-laws, and siblings. Other family goals may address extended family like mending relationships, making time to visit family members, or setting boundaries. Perhaps your goal is to start a family in which case you may want to include a fertility tracker, adoption/foster checklist, or nursery prep checklist. Any of your goals that impact the rest of your family members should be discussed with your family so you can make sure you are all on the same page.
Step 5: Relationships
Relationship goals may include spending more time with friends, enjoying girls/guys nights, getting to know your neighbors better, serving others, setting boundaries, or pursuing new friendships.
Step 6: Work
When setting goals for work, consider these things: what do I enjoy/not enjoy about my job? Am I in the career I want to be in? What is my work environment like? How can I glorify God through my work? What does success look like in my current job?
Work goals may include landing a job, working towards a promotion or raise, attending trainings or continuing education classes, traveling more or less, or changing careers. If you are still in school, replace work with school goals or include another section for school if you do both.
Step 7: Finances
Financial goals may include things like holiday or vacation funds, setting up savings or retirement accounts, creating a budget, paying off debt, donations/tithing, or limiting spending by cutting out unnecessary or frivolous purchases.
Step 8: Hobbies
Hobbies are the things you enjoy doing outside of your work and relationships. This may include sports, the arts, volunteer work, building/tinkering projects, etc. Setting goals for hobbies should consider how much time you have available for hobbies and what you enjoy doing.
Step 9: Self-Development
Self-development goals include anything that you think will make you a better person that aren’t already included in other areas. This may include going back to school, reading more, researching a topic you are interested in, or learning more about current events.
Step 10: Home
Home goals are one of the areas that won’t be included in everyone’s life plan. These goals focus on home improvement projects or regularly scheduled tasks such a cleaning, grocery shopping, and meal-planning.
Step 11: What's Important?
The first step in setting goals is to figure out what is most important to you. If your goals are not based on what you care about, you will lack the motivation to achieve them. As you answer the questions in today's prompts, you should notice a theme or see how the things that are important to you fit into certain areas of your life.
Step 12: Where are You at Right Now?
Setting goals isn’t just about looking to the future, you also need to assess your starting point. Consider the nine areas of your life that were described on days 2-10 and rate yourself in each area on a scale of 0-10, which 0 being not well at all, 5 being neutral, and 10 being the best you could be doing. Consider all the relationships, responsibilities, and subcategories that fall under each area.
Step 13: Where Do You Want to Be?
Based on what you identified as important to you and how you rated yourself in each area of your life, what are your priorities?
Step 14: How Will You Get There?
It is best to choose three to five areas, based on your priorities, to focus on for the year. Once you have those areas selected, write a general vision statement for each area. You want your vision statement to briefly state why that area is important to you, what you want to improve, and what success looks like to you. You also want your vision statement to be written in the present tense.
Step 15: What are SMART Goals?
It is important that the goals you set are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Some goals will need to be broken down into multiple, smaller action steps. Action steps are like mini goals that are short-term and help you reach your main goal. It is important that each action step is SMART as well.
Step 16: Setting Goals for Area #1
Set SMART goals and action steps for the first area you selected to work on.
Step 17: Setting Goals for Area #2
Set SMART goals and action steps for the second area you selected to work on.
Step 18: Setting Goals for Area #3
Set SMART goals and action steps for the third area you selected to work on.
Step 19: Setting Goals for Area #4
Set SMART goals and action steps for the fourth area you selected to work on.
Step 20: Tracking Goals
Before you begin working on your goals, you want to establish how you will track your progress.
Step 21: Accountability
Even though some goals may be very personal, I encourage you to share them with at least one other person who will check in with you to see how you are doing and who will pray for and encourage you as you try to meet your goals. Accountability increases motivation because you know you have someone to answer to other than yourself. Sharing your goals with someone else is also a great way to ensure the goals you have set are actually attainable.