Developing Your Life Plan for Success as an Architect
Architects and creative professionals are born dreamers, so I am pretty sure that you are going to like the suggestions that I will make in this article.
A Life Plan is our road map to what we are truly meant to be. It’s a way to figure out what matters most to us and how we are going to get to that place in our lives. Use the time management skills that you learned in the GetFocused Productivity Course and find a place on your schedule to work on your dreams. In terms of Stephen R. Covey’s matrix, this task is “Important and Not Urgent”, so make it happen.
And, what better time, as we prepare for the new year, to dive deep into your hopes, dreams and desires. This post is about preparing your personal and business plans… Your Life Plan.
As Entrepreneur Architects, our life and our business are not separate. Our business is a critical part of our life and we need to plan them together.
What do you want your life to be? Who do you want to be?
Michael E. Gerber, in one of my favorite books of all time, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, introduces an exercise to help us better understand what we’re talking about here. He suggests that we imagine how we would want to be remembered at our funeral. Yes. Our funeral. You are no longer here on earth with the rest of us. All your family, friends and associates gather in your memory to pay tribute.
What are they saying? What have you left behind? What have you done with your life? How do you want to be remembered when you are gone?
This is where your Life Plan should begin.
Start with Your Dreams
If you had unlimited funds, what would you be doing today? Dream big and be honest… Don’t be afraid. Dreaming is free.
Before we can get to the planning part, we need to know what our lives could be…”if only”. Dreams are “big picture” stuff. Dreams are up in the clouds. Look at your life and business from 30,000 feet. Can you see everything? What does it look like? What could it look like… “if only”?
Author, speaker and talk radio show host, Dave Ramsey says, “Visions are dreams brought out of the clouds.”
When our dreams have more clarity, they become visions. Our vision, of both our life and our business, is a critical part of our future success. With no vision, there will be no business and we will never accomplish the things we want for our lives.
Now it’s time to start having some fun.
Once you have your dreams written down, I recommend expanding those dreams into Vision Narrative. A Vision Narrative is the big dream of what you want your life and business to be in 5 or 10 years from now… with some definition. How does your future business look and run? How many employees? Locations? How does your business work with your personal life? Have you found a balance between your firm and your family?
Don’t limit yourself here. Take your time and imagine your future. If done right, it may just someday become “true life”.
When complete, prepare a short summary of your Vision Narrative, with no more than a couple of paragraphs. That’s your Vision Statement.
What is Your Why?
Our business and personal mission statements define our direction. Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal, says, “Mission statements turn a lightbulb into a laser.” Our Mission will give focus to our vision and goals. It will define why we are doing what we do. It’s an “out of bounds” marker for our life and business. It describes who we are… as well as who we are not.
We have very limited time in our lives. In fact, we only have 168 hours each week… and we should be sleeping for 56 of those hours. That leaves us 112 hours each week to get all our most important things done. Take more time for fitness and hygiene and we’re left with 84 hours, half of what we started with. How are we going to spend those hours? What are the things that will move us toward the dreams and visions we set above?
Our Mission will help us decide what to spend our time on. With a clearly defined Mission, decision making becomes very efficient. If the task in question meets with our Mission, then it’s worth doing. If not… no way.
Why do we do what we do? I doubt it’s for the money. Simon Sinek has written a great book and has presented a fantastic TED Talk. He says, “Start with Why.” I highly recommend both to you.
Why do we do what we do? Why does our business do what it does? That is our Mission.
Set Your Goals
With a clear mission and a vision of what you want your life and business will look like, its time to set some goals.
The late motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, spoke about his Wheel of Life. Mr. Ziglar said that we should divide our time, effort and focus on several critical areas of our lives. He recommended setting goals for not only our careers and finances, but we should also set spiritual goals, family goals, physical goals, intellectual goals and social goals. He explains that if we neglect any of these areas, the wheel will become flat in that area and our lives will not be the smooth ride that we want it to be. We must truly have balance or our lives will get noisy, like a flat tire.
If we focus only on our strengths and neglect the other areas, those that do not receive the attention will pull from the others and our lives will be out of balance.
So, its time to set some goals.
Set several goals for each of these areas in your life. Goals should be very specific, have clarity and a deadline. What will you do? What is the definition of success? By when will it be complete?
Track each goal so you know how you are progressing. When you meet your set specifics, you will have accomplished that goal and it will be time to set more goals in that area of your life.
Your Life Plan
I wrote about ten business plans, before I finished one. It was always so overwhelming. It doesn’t need to be and I recommend starting with just one page.
Start with your dreams and write your Vision Narrative. This was my favorite part… I’m proud to call myself “a dreamer”.
Then take one sheet of paper and write out your Vision Statement, all of your goals and your Mission. Done! One complete business plan.
With that one page business plan, you can then expand and develop it with any other sections you feel are important. This is your plan. Don’t get caught up in what others say a business plan should be. Your plan is whatever you say it is.
Now… repeat the process for your personal plan.
Remember also that this is an ongoing process. Your plans should be reviewed often and updated annually.
If you are not loving Monday mornings, then its time to make a change. Planning is how we’ll do it. Planning gives us the power and permission to proceed with our dreams and pursue our passions. It conquers the fear and let’s us accomplish the things we thought could never be pulled from the clouds.
If you are unemployed, your Life Plan will help you make the decisions necessary to get you where you want to go. With your dreams, visions, mission and goals clearly defined, you will be prepared when the offers finally start coming your way.
Success is not easy. Achievement takes very hard work and planning is how it happens.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock / ESB Professional