Jack Heimbigner
Oct 3, 2018 · 8 min read
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

When you started college or a new career, you likely had a counselor or a supervisor help you plot the course for you college years or career path. Most people sit through these meetings unclear of what they really want to do but acknowledge a lot and agree with every word which is being said to them. And then, when the dust settles and they get into their classes and career, they hate it. Or feel disillusioned. Sometimes they want to give up.

You don’t have to feel this way about your life.

And yet, many people do. They get out of college, are in the middle of family and career building and they don’t know how they got there. Somehow, along the way, they drifted into the world they are living in and don’t know what to do with themselves.

This can be called a quarter, third, or mid-life crisis. And it becomes debilitating for many people. They start making wild or poor decisions. Ultimately, their life starts to cave in around them until they decided to settle for the status quo or worse, they just let life happen to them.

You don’t have to feel this way about your life.


The Life Plan

People get weird when I tell them about my life plan. It is a typical response for me when they ask how my wife and I were able to move states and chase our dreams to live in the countryside in our new home. Or when I share with them I am writing a book they cannot believe I am going after this dream.

So I tell them it is easy to chase a dream when you have a plan, a life plan.

Confused looks abound and sometimes people break into stammering. I don’t understand this, but I share with them how it is like having a plan for your career or college and they start to understand. These conversations have prompted me to share my complete guide to creating a life plan. Which is adapted from several sources which have brought me to this point.


Create Your Life Plan

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Below are the steps I have taken in my journey for creating a life plan. These steps are also what I do every quarter when I review my life plan and update it. Every quarter, I update it with my successes and failures to help me continue to live the life I desire and chase my dreams.

The best way to describe my life plan: It is a living document.

As you read through the steps below, they will help you create a life plan and develop a habit to start chasing your dreams by creating direction for your life. There is an assignment to each step which will give you a chance to apply them and create a life plan today!


Step One: Imagine Being Interviewed at the End of Your Life

You are sitting in an easy chair at a ripe old age and across from you is a reporter for a major news outlet. They want to share your story with the world because you have done amazing things and have become and amazing individual. As you prepare for the interview, the reporter asks these questions:

  1. Who should we interview about your life?
  2. What is the one thing you never thought you would do, but did it?
  3. Where have you lived, learned, and experienced your greatest successes?
  4. When did you do the hard work to make this life possible?
  5. Why did you work so hard to be who you are?
  6. How did you accomplish these amazing things?

These questions may be daunting at first. But they are hugely important to help you understand where you want to be in the future. Your envisioned future is the place you want to be at the end of your life. It is the place where all your dreams come true.

Assignment for Step One: Write down the answers to these questions. Your first go through with this will be difficult, but useful.


Step Two: Determine Your Priorities

Here are the nuts and bolts of step one, what is most important to you? And here is a secret: they change over time. This is a difficult reality for some people to grasp. However, our priorities in our twenties are different than our priorities in our fifties and sixties.

Who and what, are the most important aspects of your life right now?

These can be family, a spouse, children, friends or even things like your finances or career. Maybe even your faith, education or personal health. Most people have seven to ten life priorities at any time. Any more than ten and you are afraid to leave things out which may not be ultimately important.

Assignment for Step Two: Write down your seven to ten life priorities.


Step Three: Review Each Priority

This is the lynchpin of creating a life plan. Dreaming big and being brutally honest. There are four parts to step three. These are essentials for reviewing each of your priorities. You will need to know your purpose, where you want to be, where you are now, and how you want to get there.

#1: The Purpose

Identify the purpose of making this a priority. This is where you create a statement about why you have decided this is a priority. If a priority is your children. Why are they a priority? If it is work, why is this a priority? The key is to know why it is important. I have heard stories about people doing this part of the exercise and realizing something they thought was a priority, really was not.

This part, you want to create a statement about the purpose of this priority. It is the first part of this step. Below is an example of my purpose statement for my children:

“My purpose is to love them unconditionally. To be a strong and safe harbor for them. And to strengthen and prepare them to go out into the world.”

Do this for each of your priorities.

#2: The Future

What do you want the future to look like with your priorities? If everything was the way you wanted it, you should have a clear picture of it in your mind. This is where you set it in stone. And once again, since this is a living document, it will change as you start taking strides toward your dreams.

Here you will create a small section about what your future would look like if you reached your goal or dream for this priority. Below is an example of my future statement for physical health;

“I am the healthiest I have ever been. I maintain a healthy weight be living an active lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, and a implimenting proactive health management plan. I have plenty of energy for every day life and the extraordinary moments in life. I am constantly improving my physicality. I am constantly bettering the food that I am putting into my body. I rarely get sick and I am the picture of good health no matter my age.”

Do this for each of your priorities.

#3: The Present

This is the hard part. After you have decided the purpose and future for your priorities, you need to know where you are right now. You need to be honest with yourself. In this part, we talk about reality and sometimes, reality sucks. This way we have a start and an end to getting to our dreams.

For each of your priorities, you need to know where you are so you know where you need to get to and how to do it. Below is an example of my present statement for my people priority:

“I do not have a clear mentor and am not mentoring anyone. I have few friends I can call whenever. Not all of my relationships have clear boundaries. I have identified about two inner circle people. I need to identify an new mentor. I need to start setting some regular things to do with friends.”

Do this now for each of your priorities.

#4: Create Action Steps

Now, we have a purpose, the beginning, and the end to our dreams for our priorities. We need to start creating action steps to get from the present to the future. This is where we make the roadmap to our dreams.

In this part, you will create four to five major actions you can take in a quarter to move closer to your dreams and desired life. Below is an example of my action steps for my vocation priority:

  1. Reduce my inventory every month.
  2. Become consistent at managing my workload and not getting behind.
  3. Finish Mentorship with new rep.
  4. Start working from home one day a week regularly.
  5. Take a lunch every day, leave work by 5:30pm every day.

As you can see, this is numbered, which helps make it easier to know what steps to take. For me, I don’t put them in any particular order. However, you can do this.

Do this now for each of your priorities.


Step Four: Create Your Living Document & Review

Photo by Gabriele Diwald on Unsplash

It is time to put it all together and make your living document. My life plan starts with my end of life interview. Then it goes one by one through my priorities with each statement added under the priority section.

All of these go together in one document. I use Apple Pages. My life plan is 13 pages long. Once you have everything compiled together, you can print it off and place it somewhere you can review it.

It will be important for you to review your life plan weekly, monthly, and quarterly. The weekly and monthly reviews are to keep you on track toward your dreams and desired life. Your quarterly reviews are to update your life plan as you accomplish things or find struggles along the way. These times will be very valuable to help you see your progress and diagnose problems along the way.


Take Action Today

It is time for you to start taking action. Create your life plan now. You have everything you need. You will not regret stepping into the journey of chasing your dreams and going after the life you desire.

I remember when I started doing this it was overwhelming, and in the end, I have seen more dreams come true than I could have imagined four years ago.

If you want to learn more about life planning, the majority or my process is derived from Michael Hyatt’s book: Living Forward.

Respond: Do you have a life plan now? Have you ever tried to create one? What do you think is the most helpful aspect of this story? Share in the responses below.


This story is published in The Post-Grad Survival Guide, a publication for recent grads followed by 9,000+ people.

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The Post-Grad Survival Guide

We're confused twenty-somethings. We dish on our post-grad blues, successes, failures, and everyday life right here. Featuring topics related to work, relationships, travel, finances, and so much more.

Jack Heimbigner

Written by

Husband, Father, Author, Coach, and Life Achiever. | Get my personal productivity tools today: https://bit.ly/2IC91vm

The Post-Grad Survival Guide

We're confused twenty-somethings. We dish on our post-grad blues, successes, failures, and everyday life right here. Featuring topics related to work, relationships, travel, finances, and so much more.

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