As business consultants, we spend a lot of time with Company owners helping them write and then stay on track with their Company Business Plan.
However, the purpose of this blog is not to harp on again about how important it is for business to have one (although, its extremely important), the purpose of this blog is to talk about how important it is to have a life plan.
Most of us in the UAE are expats, we came to the region with the beginnings of a plan, usually to find more rewarding work or to escape from some bad decisions we had made back home - whatever got us on the plane with a one way ticket in hand, we landed and, in most cases, just got on with things.
Some of us left property back home which we rent out, so it’s fair to assume that these people have a plan to head back at some point. But what about the rest of us that have nothing back “home” to return to – we have probably left it too late to join the property market anyway, especially if we have passed the 7 year expat milestone - at this point, we are guests in our own home countries. So, what do we do next?
This is where we encourage you to start working on your life plan. This is something we recently did and have started introducing to our clients to add into their overall planning. Personally, it has brought us greater clarity and alignment where there appeared to be none before – we had this expanse of years ahead, knew that returning to our home country was not the option for us, so what should we do?
Amble on doing what we have been doing for the past 14 years or to start looking at what we want our lives to look like in 3 to 5 years time (the same milestone years we talk about in business planning) and start working towards these goals? We took the route of visualizing our life is 5 years time and now we have the clarity which allows us to focus on making it happen which is now framing any major decisions we make.
So how do you do this? There is a Gazelles worksheet called the One Page Personal Plan which is a great starting point and is easy to complete. Here are the highlights of the areas you need to think about:
- Relationships – Who are you helping? Who are you spending time with? Are these the right people for you or should you move away from this peer group and find another that is more supporting of your decisions? We can sometimes be influenced away from what we want to do by naysayers who don’t share or understand our vision. Move away from this negativity and find those that don’t judge and are supportive of your future plans.
- Achievements – What are you most proud of, or what do I plan to be most proud of. This could be a successful business that I sold for trillions of dollars allowing me to now retire at the age of 30 or it could be your involvement in a charitable organisation in your home country where you are able to give back to your local community. Either way, what achievements do you want and start working towards them.
- Rituals - What regular actions to you take that support your purpose? Marshal Goldsmith has daily rituals that he targets himself to complete, he even pays someone to call him daily, regardless where he is in the world, to talk him through the 10 rituals he sets himself to complete daily checking that he has achieved them and challenges him when he missed one.
Your rituals will expand when you start seeing results, when this happens you just revisit and adjust to keep yourself heading towards your ultimate goal.
- Wealth – Is money flowing, stopping or flowing through you? In most cases, our life plans tend to require us to have a set amount of money to retire and live on – do you know what this figure is? I guarantee you when you set yourself a number that you believe is the amount you will need when you reach your planned retirement age, it will then influence your purchasing decisions immediately.
Do you need the latest upgrade i-phone when the version you currently have does everything you need to do? Do you need to replace the sofa when the one you have is Ok although a little worn and you plan to downsize anyway when you move in 3 years time anyway?
Our life plan, although not physically written down, is in the form of a vision board which sits in our office in a place where we see it daily. I must say that since we discussed and created the board, it has influenced our lives no end.
We know where we plan to be in 3 or 5 years (not so set on the actual date, going with the flow is part of the vision), we know the lifestyle we want, we know when we plan to stop work and we know how we plan to fill our days. Its highly motivating to know this and I encourage everyone to do it.