Zig Ziglar, a well-known author, and communicator said: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Sadly, that is how many of us live our lives – aiming at nothing. We’re just letting life happen to us. If you just let life happen to you, you may end up living a life where nothing worthwhile happens.
That’s where I was for many years. Oh, I had dreams, but a dream without a plan is only a wish. As important as a plan is to accomplish a dream, I never put any effort into developing or having a vision or plan for my own life. I was aiming at nothing. How crazy is that? And we wonder why we get disappointed with life.If you just let life happen to you, you may end up living a life where nothing worthwhile happens. Click To Tweet
In 2019, as a part of some ongoing training and education for our pastors on staff at Element Church, we did what’s called the Daniel Harkavy Life Plan. Daniel Harkavy is the C.E.O. and Head Coach of Building Champions. Eddy Shigley, from Doulos Leadership, helped walk us through developing our life plan.
This whole process of not only creating a life plan but regularly reviewing it was and has been eye-opening and life-changing for me. The life plan brought so much clarity to what I want to accomplish and how to get there.A dream without a plan is only a wish Click To Tweet
As we start the 2020 year at Element Church, I wanted to share here how I developed my plan and give you some tools to use as well. If you’re serious about developing a life plan, I encourage you to read chapters four through eight from “Becoming a Coaching Leader” by Daniel Harkavy. At the very least, you should read chapter five. The entire book is excellent.
The entire process, not including reading the book, took me about twelve hours to complete. I’ve spent several hours since then reviewing and refining my life plan to maximize my life. If you’re unwilling to strategically and intentionally review your life plan, don’t bother creating it.
The review process may be the most beneficial part of the plan. I reviewed mine daily for the first month and now review it weekly. I’ll then do a full review and evaluation of it annually on a solitude day I have scheduled to take.If you're unwilling to strategically and intentionally review your life plan, don't bother creating it. Click To Tweet
My plan includes a life verse, life values, life vision, and ten life accounts. For each life account, I worked through a theme Scripture, a truth statement, purpose, vision, and then some C.A.M. (clear, attainable, measurable) action steps towards accomplishing the vision.
If you want to see what my life plan looks like, you can download a portion of it HERE. This sample includes my cover page, life plan overview, values, vision, life verse, life account list, and three full life account descriptions. You can also download a life plan template that follows the process I used HERE. You can use this blank template, with included instructions, to build your life plan.
You start by deciding how long you want your life plan to be. I chose to do a twenty-year life plan. I would suggest no shorter than ten years and no longer than what is humanly reasonable. Ten to thirty years is probably the most common range. Don’t get too caught up in the length of your plan. If you establish that regular review process with at least an annual review of your life plan, you can always adjust it as you go.
For me, I wanted Scripture to drive my plan. Psalm 92:12-15 was a passage of Scripture I had already put to memory and was calling them my “life verses” for a while, so that seemed like the place to start. From there, I formulated my life vision and life values.
My life vision says: I will live out every area of my life in a way that is flourishing and alive, fortified and strong, fruitful for others, and faithful to our God.
My life values flow seamlessly with a vision as well. You can see them in the sample life plan. If you read Psalm 92:12-15 (N.L.T.), you’ll see how the Scripture informed both my vision and values.
My life accounts fit into four specific categories: Spiritual life, personal life, relational life, professional life.
I chose ten accounts to focus on: My relationship with God, physical health, personal development, finances, relationship with my wife, relationship with my kids, friendships, preaching, writing, and leading Element Church.
I loved the idea in Harkavy’s book of accumulating net-worth in each account. When you think in terms of net-worth, you are thinking of the long game. We often make decisions based on what will make us feel good on Friday, not what will be best for us and others in the future. Net-worth is future thinking, not Friday thinking. I don’t want us to live for Fridays anymore. “Don’t live for Friday” needs to become a mantra in our lives. “Is this decision for Friday or the future?” should be a question we consistently ask ourselves. That’s how I approached each account in my life plan.We often make decisions based on what will make us feel good on Friday, not what will be best for us and others in the future. Click To Tweet
I then walked through every account and chose a theme verse and a truth statement. Truth statements can be a powerful ally in living out your life plan. For me, these are more than just positive affirmations. They are statements of truth, born from Scripture, about God, me, or my life that help to silence the lies of the enemy in his attempt to destroy me. I say specific truth statements out loud over my life every day.
Based on my life vision and values, I then wrote out a purpose and vision for each life account. For example, in my relationship with God account, here is my purpose:
Everything in my life will rise and fall on the strength of my relationship with the Lord. None of my personal, relational, or professional accomplishments will matter if I fail in this one area. So, I will commit myself to the Lord and His ways every day, making faithfulness, not fruitfulness, my ultimate goal in life. I want to “Make it til the end.”
Now with that purpose in mind, here is my vision for my spiritual life:
By age 65, my love of, passion for, and knowledge in the Lord will be higher than ever. I will continue to have a daily time alone with God, where I am reading and memorizing the Word, spending time in strategic prayer, and continually learning and sharing something new about the Lord. I will flourish like a palm tree and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. I will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my Rock! There is no evil in Him.”
Lastly, I committed to some action steps that will lead me toward accomplishing my vision is this area of my life:
Actions: I will build net-worth in this account by…
- Reading the Word every day. Even if this means I get in the Verse of the Day, I will not miss one day in the Word, with a goal of reading through the Bible each year.
- Reviewing at least one memory verse every day and adding a new verse to the list each time a verse is mastered.
- Continuing to strategically pray through my prayer journal, becoming more and more efficient in my prayer times.
- Fasting one meal each week, one day each month, and one week each year. (Food only unless otherwise directed)
- Going on one spiritual retreat/solitude day each year. On that day, I will review, re-evaluate, and restructure my Life Plan.
Speaking key words of truth over my life, out loud, every day. These words of truth will be built on the Word of God and will silence the lies I tend to believe.
For many of my action steps in each life account, I created recurring “To-Do’s” in my task manager app I use. I also made reminders for weekly reviews of my life plan, as well as an annual review I’ll do each year. I’ve already revised this life plan, along with several specific action steps, multiple times.
The point is not to perfect the life plan on the first try; it’s to have a plan, to begin with. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I’ve been aiming at nothing. I don’t want life to just happen to me; I want to happen to life!
Having a life plan won’t stop bad things from happening to you. Having a life plan won’t guarantee that life will end up the way you want. Having a life plan gives some clarity to how you want to live your life. It creates some personal accountability. No one but you can decide where you want to end up in life, and no one but you can do the hard work of getting there.No one but you can decide where you want to end up in life, and no one but you can do the hard work of getting there. Click To Tweet
I challenge you, set aside some time to think through your life. Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go? How do you want to be remembered? Don’t just dream about it; plan it!