The idea that our life will be perfect is a fantasy and something best left for the movies. The notion that we should live every moment with no regrets would probably lead us to have no retirement savings, eating ice cream everyday, and living out of a camper van! We need to be ok with living with a balance, sometimes living in the moment and sometimes planning for the future. We need to embrace living in the “gray” of life, all the while being content.
In my opinion, that feeling of being stuck in life and dreams not coming true is because of poor planning and lack of execution… which stems from a fear of failing. That’s right, the reason why we don’t achieve is because we’re afraid that if we fail, it’ll prove that we do suck. The truth is that in order to achieve, we need to embrace the “gray,” which consists of both light and dark. The dark comes from our failures, our losses, our insecurities. The dark is totally acceptable… so long as you don’t dwell on it! Much like how Calvin’s dad teaches his son, “it’ll build character.” Use that dark as a lesson, a motivation, and reminder of a place you don’t want to be.
Ok, that was kinda heavy and preachy…so what do we do about this? How do we fail and maybe look dumb, but still dust ourselves off every time and strive for our dreams?
Well, before you do anything, let’s make sure you’ve taken a moment to ask yourself, “what is my purpose in life?!” I’ve written before about how to wake up and find your purpose, and to find a better purpose in life. Make sure you read them in order to make the most out of the below Epic Life Planner.
Ok, all that was the preamble and now we get down to the nitty-gritty steps to plan things out. Yeah, I know there are tons of written out there about how to better plan and organize your life, but I promote this Epic Life Planner because it’s a sweet spot between keeping the big picture in mind, while planning with just enough detail to make you accountable.
Depending on your personality, you might not like paying attention to the details, but that’s exactly where we must go. Remember, one of the top reasons why people don’t follow through on their goals is because of a lack of planning.
The key to having a great plan is to keep it simple yet thoughtful. I’ve made my own Epic Life Planner tool on how to do exactly this, so download it now for free.
Step 1 – Type of Goal
Not all goals are created equal. Establish 4 clear goals for the year (Tab 1 of my free download). Your goals should be a combination of:
- Skill-Building — Such as learning to play a guitar, taking tennis lessons, or computer programming. These are skills that can be either the goal itself, or skills that will enable the bigger goal. For example, if the ultimate goal is to climb Mount Everest, then the skill is to learn how to be a mountaineer, tie knots, and survival techniques in the cold. Or, learning how to play the guitar could be the goal itself.
- Adventures / Experiences — Such as backpacking through Europe or going on an African safari. Think of these as the things you want to do in life and collect memories on. These are the events that will affect us and shape who we are as a person. For example, my second attempt to hike up Pikes Peak has definitely impacted how I feel about my mental strength.
- Producing — Such as starting your own podcast (everyone has one, why not you!), writing a book, or getting a 6-pack abs. These are typically tangible things you can put your hands on and say, “look, I made that.” Another way to think about it is: stop being a consumer and be a contributor. Will your legacy be that you’ve consumed the entire internet, or that you carved out a niche of your own that others find inspiring.
After you’ve identified 4 goals, you’ll further divide them into 12 months. In other words, write down how you’ll do those 4 goals throughout the 52 weeks in a year (which my free download tool will help you with). We can probably assume Thanksgiving and Christmas weekend are blocked out. That leaves 50 weeks to spread out the 4 goals above.
- If one of your goals is a trip somewhere, set aside a few weekends to plan the trip, then block out the actual week of the trip on your calendar.
- If a goal is to build a skill, then set aside several weekends to practice on that.
- If the goal is to start writing a book, then write down you’ll write ## words per week.
Remember, there’s no wrong answer! Instead of feeling overwhelmed, look at this as your fun roadmap for the year. How awesome is that?! Not everybody has a cool one-year roadmap to achieving their dreams! Of course unexpected events will happen so allow yourself to make adjustments.
If you’re an overachiever: Take the time to grade yourself weekly or monthly. Highlight in green if you did what you said, or red if you utterly failed and did a Netflix binge.
Step 2 – Into the Details
I’ll be honest, feel free to stop now. If you’ve actually done Step 1 above, that’s more than like 99% of the world. You’re already in a way better position to achieve. But… if you really want to get into the weeds of detailing, read on.
Now that each week of the year is loosely planned out, take it a step further by planning out EACH week. I’m not talking about every week in the year, only this upcoming week! I’m talking about planning out the next 7 days, that’s it.
If this sounds too detailed and intense, I ask that you trust me. This is what separates the dreamers from the achievers. This is where we make the conscious decision to do what we say and hold ourselves accountable. The key here is to be realistic. You may not be able to work on a goal every day of the week nor sustain that pace. So, build in a few nights of relaxation and hanging out.
If you’re an overachiever: So far we have planned 4 goals in a year. Then we dissected that year into monthly/weekly bite-sized chunks, and even down to this week. Now, let’s go back and think bigger. I read a life-changing article by Westenberg called How To Invest In Yourself. In it, he outlines a method to accomplish 100 things in your life by doing 4 of them a year. Sound familiar? Well, if you take both my suggestion and his, you’ll be in full control of your life and holding yourself accountable too. Can you feel the power surging through your veins?!
Finally, the quote I started this article with also delivers perhaps the most important lesson to living a happy life — acceptance. Can you accept where you are in life? Can you accept the decisions you’ve made that have led to where you are?
Thank you for reading and I truly hope this guide treats you well. Enjoy my free Epic Life Planner tool and let me know how it goes!