There is a great deal to contemplate, decide, and execute when planning a family trip. What if we used the same framework, intentionality, and effort necessary for planning a vacation and used it in the planning of our lives? What if we made the same effort to visualize our future and defined the steps necessary to realize our desired future? In general, planning a vacation is fun and filled with anticipation. Planning our lives should be no different, and if your plan is in your head but not written out, it is not a plan, only a dream. Planning without pen and paper is easy, feels good, and will likely never come to fruition because it lacks commitment.

Planning for your life requires a great deal of mental energy and time. Unfortunately, we have a number of distractions that often prevent us from doing the deep work necessary for planning a life. It is overwhelming to keep up with the social feed, favorite shows, daily activities, and work! None of these distractions will help you to live a more intentional life.

Planning a life is very similar to planning your next vacation. Here are the steps:

Determine what your life will represent.

The best method I have come across for identifying what your life represented is to write your eulogy. Many people recoil when we first discuss this process of writing our eulogy. The journey to self-discovery begins with determining what you want your life to have represented. Writing our eulogy creates a clear vision of how we need to show up each day. Four simple questions answered intentionally can alter the course of a person’s life. Write your answers out in detail.

How will my family describe my life? 

How will my friends remember me? 

How will my coworkers remember me? 

Am I living these answers today or do I need to make some changes to begin living these answers?  

Detailing answers to these questions will offer great insight into how you need to be showing up in the world. The eulogy exercise is especially profound if you discover that how you are currently showing up in the relationships that matter most to you is not consistent with how you want to show up based on what you wrote. The final question in the exercise connects the future with the reality of the present by comparing who you are today with who you want to be at the end of your life. If you are not representing who you want to be in the future, what changes should you make to help you be more consistent with how you want to show up? Take a minute to identify three or four simple changes you could make in your life today to help ensure that you show up in a more meaningful way for those that matter most in your life.

Planning a life takes significantly more mental energy than planning a vacation. Quite simply, that is why most people don’t accept the responsibility or take on the challenge. It is hard work, and it often requires addressing some unpleasant realities. Can you be honest with yourself?

Identify your core values.

Define the qualities of character that will inspire you to show up each day representing the best version of you. Create a list of your core values (Integrity, Responsibility, Humor, Confidence, Flexibility, Mindfulness, Humility, etc.). To be the best possible version of ourselves, we first need to determine how we desire to show up in the world! Establishing our core values in our mind is equivalent to building a strong foundation for a house.

Articulate your vision statement.

A vision statement is your description of your life well lived. It is your view from the top of the mountain. A vision should certainly be aspirational but also always achievable. It should also be in alignment with the eulogy and core values that you developed earlier in the planning process. It should inspire you to show up as the best version of you. You will write it in the present tense because you are living it today (“I have”, or “I am”). Study after study has proven that the world seems to align itself to help people with a clear vision of their future. Make sure to use precise language to describe your vision. Where do you want to go? Your vision should take you there!

What is your mission?

The mission is the plan for getting to the top of the mountain. If the vision statement is the view from the top of the mountain, the mission is how you will get there. Your mission statement represents how you want to show up every day to live your best life and be the best version of you.

Here is my personal mission as an example: Put first my family, my friends and my spiritual beliefs in all my decisions without compromising the qualities of character most important to me (core values), while continually increasing my knowledge, improving my health, improving my community, improving my relationships and improving my country.

Share This