09/06/13 17:04:07

Develop a Life Plan to Find Your Life's Priorities

As you may know, I have been reshaping my life recently, which is why I post so much stuff about priorities, health, and how to cultivate habits. The stuff that I am currently working on is, at least I try to keep it, high-level stuff. I didn’t touch Final Cut in months, because that’s not what I’m supposed to do right now. It is easy not to leave the comfort zone of the things that you know a lot about, it is not so easy to deliberately leave that zone and work on stuff that is hard(er) to do. Facing all the things that I know nothing about. Some argue that you should find someone to do things that you can’t do, for you. That’s not how I decided to roll.

So, what am I doing? I work on making zCasting its own company. Until now it has always been me plus a couple of freelancers. That’s not what I have in mind for the future. zCasting needs to be its own entity, a real company. What that entails is that I need to create a vision for the company. What does the company stand for? What values does the company have? What are the goals? Why would people want to work there? What difference do we make?
The problem is that to become clear of all these things, I first need to become clear of the same questions for myself. What is important to me? What do I value? What do I want to do with my life?

I basically look at my old life plans that I created back when I first started reading and applying time management. Nothing unusual, I do this every year. What has changed is that what I had imagined I need to do to do in order accomplish my life’s goals, almost 6 years ago, are so inherently different that I need to develop completely new ones. People told me that a person changes every 5-10 years or so. (childhood, teenage years, adulthood, etc.) Maybe I’ve reached that point.

Developing a New Life Plan

Now, after this long and uninteresting introduction. How does one go about creating a new life plan?
Well, I always liked the idea of creating your own funeral oration. I got that idea from one of the leading German time management gurus.1 The way it works is simple:

The funeral oration stems from the idea that a person fills various “roles” in their life. I am a business owner, a nerd, a cyclist, etc. With these roles in mind, think of a person that represents this role and speaks about you. Obviously at your own oration, you would want to hear mostly positive things like:

Now go through your roles and what each person has to say about this role. The good thing is that all of this is imaginary. You can go wild and far.
Mick Jagger says “I remember that one concert when I met him vividly. We had a lot of fun.” If meeting Mick Jagger is something that you desire, then it might as well be mentioned by him at your imaginary funeral, right?

Roles and GTD don’t go well, however. In GTD we have this concept of “contexts,” which is what roles are … almost. “Contexts” are a broader term for tools, places, and so forth. Finding your roles could be a posting on its own so I won’t go into detail with this and recommend you do your own research.

Write down their speeches for about 10 minutes. If you need more time, then continue. It doesn’t matter whether you write the speech in sentence form or in list format.

Now go through the speeches and look for commonalities and things that jump at you. Things where you’re like “Oh, really, I didn’t know that I would want someone to say this about me.”

Extract all these things. Maybe write them on a separate document or create a mind map2. Once you’ve got all of this in front of you, you can derive your life’s goals from them. If you want to meet Mick Jagger, then it is one of your life’s goals. If it is so important to you, it is one of your Priorities. Do you see how this comes full circle?

Finding your life goals doesn’t yield your values, though. But at least you are a good chunk closer to extrapolating your core values from your goals. Typically values are things, for me at least, where I risk to receive opposing wind when I express an opinion publicly. Values are things that I can’t just look blindly at. Finding and developing these are a topic for another post.

For the time being, I hope you will have easier time to find your goals now, so that you can lift off the runway, reach 10,000 feet, only to get back to runway level.

  1. Back in 2005 my English was not really good. I couldn’t read a full English book. 

  2. You know me…