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Keyy Blog

Unlock your true potential.

Written by Luke Summerfield
on December 27, 2016
lifestyle-design-life-goals-luke-summerfield.jpg
 
Your dream life isn't going to just magically happen on it's own. As obvious as this sounds, the vast majority of people live their lives as if it will. They are sitting in the passenger seat, with no map and no end destination. 
 
Turning your dream life into your real life requires you to move into the drivers seat, pick an end destination and create a roadmap to follow. 
 
"Moving to the drivers seat" happens when you make a conscious choice to take charge and proactively start designing your life. Picking an end destination and creating a roadmap is what I outline in the rest of this article.
 
Are you ready? ... if so, Enjoy. 

Before we dive in...

Listen to these words of wisdom to set the tone of how to think about designing your life. 
 

PART 1 - Blue Sky Period

Creating a vision for your life isn't going to come in one magnificent lightning bolt of insight. It's a bit more like cooking a wonderful stew. You need to slowly put one ingredient in at a time, letting each one simmer, mix and blend with the rest of the stew until you have the perfect blend. It can't be rushed. 
 
Life planning starts with a "Blue Sky Period" where you take a step back from the day-to-day, get the creative juices flowing and think big picture. I find that December makes a great "Blue Sky Period" because (for me) the second half of the month is slower, I'm off work and out of the day to day.

Note - You're not trying to make any final decisions in the Blue Sky Period, you're simply letting your mind run wild to generate ideas and get them out "on your plate".
 
These are activities to do while in your Blue Sky Period to help reflect and generate creative ideas:
 
Questions to Ponder:
  • What gets me excited to get out of bed every morning?
  • If money wasn't a factor (you won the lottery) what would I spend your time doing?
    • What about these activities would be fulfilling to me?
    • Can I do these activities (or variations) today without the money for the same fulfillment?
       
  • Who are 3-5 individuals (alive, historical or fictional) that I admire?
    • What specifically (traits, skills, actions) do I admire about them? 

  • What did I want to be when I grew up?
    • What about this career fascinated me?

  • What are 3-5 words people will use to describe me after I die?

  • Looking back at my life and growing up, what were a handful of activities that got me extremely excited and passionate about?
    • If you boil down each of these activities, what elements are at their core?
    • Do they share a particular theme or elements?
    • How can I bring more of that theme/element into my life?

  • How am I contributing to the world? 
    • How could I be contributing more
... there are many more... I will be adding more to this list over time (so make sure to subscribe). If you have questions you like to reflect on, please post below in the comments. 

 
Personal Notebook and Journaling:
  • Ideas come at the weirdest times. To make sure you don't miss them carry a have a small, pocket sized notebook on you at all times. Any idea that comes to mind, write it down no matter how good or bad, big or small. You should see how many of these little pocket notebooks you can fill up. 
  • If you're not already, you should invest 10-15 minutes each morning to reflect on some of the ideas going through your head in a personal journal. Use this to really dig into ideas and flush out bigger picture ideas. This is where you can think through the "questions to ponder" listed above.
  • I prefer the tactile experience of writing on paper, however, if you prefer you can use a digital form of note taking such as Evernote. 
Passion and Pain 80 / 20 Exercise: 
  • Write out the 20% of activities in your life that you get 80% of your happiness from
  • What 20% of activities do you get 80% of your pain from
  • How do you pull those painful activities off your plate and double down on the 20% of activities that bring you happiness?
Breaking Down Fear Exercise:
  • What are your life's biggest fears?
  • List out (in detail) what your life would look like if those fears actually happened
  • Then write out a game plan of what you would need to do to get back to where you are today
  • What you'll find - many times the things we fear are not that bad (and likely won't happen)... this shouldn't be a reason to avoid or not do something.

  • Note - This is a great exercise to do anytime you're trying to make a big decision or life change.

  • Tim Ferriss has a great 5 minute talk about that you should watch:
Write your own Eulogy
  • Sounds a bit morbid, but writing out what you will be remembered for when you die is a great exercise to help bring clarity in your life.
  • Write a page about your life, how you will be remembered and the contributions to the world you made. You can write it from the perspective of your best friend. 
Resources to check out during your blue sky period:

PART 2 - Five Year Lifestyle Vision

When you get to the end of your Blue Sky Period, you can then start fulling all those ideas into what I call your "Five Year Lifestyle Vision". (I stick with 5-years because I find if I try to envision 8- or 10-years it's too unrealistic and I get stuck.)

What does your world look like five years from now?
 
STEP 1 - Create a Vision - Go though the below questions and ponder answers to them. Visualize in your head what life will look like in regards to each the answers. 
  • Who are 3-5 individuals (alive, historical, fictional) who have amazing lives?
    • What about their lives makes it amazing?

  • What type of a lifestyle do I want to be living and why?
    If you're thinking about income level, ask:
    • Why will this lifestyle be fulfilling to me?

  • If you have income on your list, ask yourself:
    • Why do I want to be making this amount of money?
    • What does that money allow me to do?
    • Could I accomplish that same lifestyle without all that money?
    • What would it take for me to create that lifestyle in the next 6-months?

  • What activities do I want to be spending most of your time on?
    • What about these activities 

  • Where are you living and why there?
  • Who is in (and not in) my life?

  • What does your __(fill in from below)___ life look like?
    • Physical
    • Mental
    • Spiritual 
    • Emotional
... there are many more... I will be adding more to this list over time (so make sure to subscribe). If you have questions you like to reflect on, please post below in the comments. 
 
 
STEP 2 - Write Your Story - Write out a first person story about your desired life. This could be walking through what a day in your life is like or written as what a journal entry five years from now will look like.
  • Avoid simply doing bullet points - Make it visual and descriptive. 

  • Focus on the end, not the means to the end - Describe how you're living your life (the end) and not on how much money you're making (the means). 
Your story doesn't have to be super detailed, it can simply be a 800 foot view of the major themes, people, activities and milestones in your life.
 
STEP 3 - Break Down Your Story - Once you're story is complete, on a separate piece of paper break down:
  • The Main elements of your story.
    • For example: Living in Hawaii. Two children. Working four days a week. etc.

  • What it will take to get you to the life in your story.
    • This is where you will describe the "means" to the end.
    • For example: How much money will you have to be making to live the life described in your story?

PART 3 - Three Year "Check-Point"

What does your life look like three years from today as you're on the path to your five year lifestyle? 
 
STEP 1 - Reverse Engineer Five Year Lifestyle Vision - Go through all of the items on your five year lifestyle vision and start reverse engineering where you need to be in three years to be on track to hitting them. Think of this as your "check point" as you're moving towards your five year lifestyle vision. 

Feel free to add in or remove items on your list that may have changed or are more/less relevant between five and three years. 
 

PART 4 - Set One Year Tangible Goals (a.k.a. New Years Resolutions)

This is where things get a bit more tangible. You're not longer talking about a vision of a far off distant land, but now about what's going to happen in the next 12 months. 
 
STEP 1 - Reverse Engineer Your Three Year "Check Point' - Just like we did with the five year, reverse engineer all of the items you listed in your 3-year "check-point" to determine what you need to accomplish this year. 
 
STEP 2 - Ponder these Questions - I like walking through these questions to push your mind a bit. The answers may influence what you try to accomplish this year.

  • Looking at my 5-year lifestyle, what would I have to do to get this lifestyle in the next year?
    • How about in the next 6-months?
    • What life changes would I have to make? (then complete the "Breaking Down Fear" exercise)

  • What challenges do I foresee running into while trying to accomplish these goals? 
    • How will I overcome these challenges?

  • Will these goals affect anyone else in my life?
    • If so, what will they think and feel about it?

  • Is there someone I know (or have a connection to) who has completed this or a similar goal?
    • Could I connect with them for mentorship?

... there are many more... I will be adding more to this list over time (so make sure to subscribe). If you have questions you like to reflect on, please post below in the comments. 
 
STEP 3 - Get Detailed and SMART - This is the time you will want to get much more detailed about the items on your list. Revise each point you came up with into detailed and specific SMART goals for the year. 
 
PART 5 - Action Plan for this Quarter & This Month
Based on your yearly goals, take a look at what you will accomplish in the next quarter. 
 
STEP 1 - Create "Rocks" - Picking 3 - 5 large items you will complete this quarter to get you on-track to your 1-year goals. I call these "rocks". Stick to fewer, bigger rocks to help you stay focus and don't feel overwhelmed. 
 
STEP 2 - Break Down Rocks into Action Items - Break down each "rock" into a detailed step-by-step list of action items to complete. 
 
STEP 3 - Create Your Monthly Action Plan - Take a highlighter and mark the action items that you will be completing this month. 
 

PART 6 - Making Shit Happen.

Now that you have a clear vision for the year, the quarter and this month, it's time for you to build some structure around actually getting things done.
 
Commit to Investing the Time: On your calendar, book off recurring time for...
  • Working on Action Items = 1-6+ hours each week to work on the action items you need to complete this month

  • Monthly Check-in = 1-2 hour each month to audit progress of action items, figure out how to solve challenges you're running into and plan out action items for the following month. I do this the last Sunday of every month over a glass or two of wine

  • Quarterly Action Planning = 3 hour planning session to pick your next quarter's rocks (based on progress and 1-year goals) and monthly action items. This replaces the monthly check in on the last Sunday of the Quarter. 

Act Today: What can you do today to get the ball rolling on your monthly goals?
  • Once identified, make this your biggest priority and just do it. No Excuses. 
  • You can ask this each morning in your journaling. 

Random Notes on Completing Goals:

  • Accountability:
    • Use a service like Stickk.com to hold yourself accountable
    • Tell a friend, family, significant other or publicly announce your goals so they can help hold you accountable

  • Create a visual goals board:
    • Print out pictures/visual icons of each goal you're trying to achieve and put it in a spot you'll constantly be reminded of it. (ex: office desk, bathroom mirror, front door, etc.)

  • Change Habits: Here are two awesome reads on changing habits
  • I could go on and on about ways to complete goals. I'll put together another notebook entry on this topic. Make sure to subscribe to get it. 
 
 
It's exciting to see you have the power to shape and create the life you want to live.
It's a great feeling to go from "drifting" to deliberate action and control on your life. 
 
I'm excited for you to go on this life planning adventure. For an additional kick of inspiration, listen to some words of wisdom (very relevant to your life planning) from Will Smith. 
 

Now... Get started!    :)

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