Everyone knows the importance of having a strategic plan for their business. But how many of us have created a strategic LIFE plan for ourselves and our families? A strategic life plan is more than a financial plan for retirement. It’s a guide for achieving your future desired lifestyle. How do you do this? “Begin with end in mind,” as Stephen Covey says in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. But what does this really mean? If you follow our unique approach, it’s as simple as answering five questions:
- Where do we want to be? (what’s our future desired outcome?)
- How will we know when we get there? (what measurements will we use to tell us we’re on track or have actually achieved our desires?)
- Where are we now? (what are today’s issues and challenges that need to be resolved?)
- How do we get there? (what strategies, actions need to occur to close the gap from where we are today to where we want to be?)
- Ongoing – what will or may change in our future environment that could affect our desired outcomes?
Q1 Where do we want to be?
Can you visualize your future 10 or 15 years from now? What does it look like? How does it feel? More than a vision, this is a description of the lifestyle you want to have 10-15 years from now. Does it include travel? Does it include a house on the beach somewhere? Does it include access to activities like hiking, swimming, tennis, sailing, fishing? Perhaps travel the US in a motor home. Where do you want to go? What do you want to experience? What does daily life look like for you? Here’s an example of a future desired state you might craft:
We’re sitting on our back porch, located just steps from the water. The sunsets here fill the sky with dramatic hues of orange, crimson, pink and gold. We’ve just returned from a four-month sail boat cruise where we visited 10 countries, ate exotic cuisine, and experienced cultures we had never seen before. We’re relaxing, regrouping, checking our financial situation, visiting with friends and family, and making plans for our next worldwide adventure.
Q2 How will we know when we get there?
What are the specific milestones you will use to tell you you’re on track to reaching your desired state? What will have to be accomplished by what date for you to know you’re on track or already there? What might be some of the measures for achieving the desired state above, for example? They might include the following:We have a house on the beach in Latin America.
We have purchased or are about to purchase an ocean cruising sailboat.
We have sufficient investments that provide a monthly income of at least $10,000.
Q3 Where are we now?
It’s today, and you’re a long way from achieving this desired outcome. List today’s current situation: your finances, your work situation, your family situation (do you have children living at home, for example), your health. List issues or concerns that may be opportunities or challenges to achieving your dreams. Here are some examples:Our current monthly household income is $6,000
Things are on track to increase that to $8000 – $10,000 within one year
Our outstanding debt (mortgages, credit cards, auto) is $200,000
We both are sailors but have not yet done an overnight passage
Q4 How do we get there?
Here’s where we start identifying the strategies that will get us from where we are today to where we want to be. What will it take to close that gap? Include financial, health, family, and training that might be required to achieve your desired state. For example, we might include some of the following: