Today I am working in one of my stores in Barcelona. It’s the small store where I spend most of the day sat at the computer. Seems like the perfect time to be writing a post (with intermittent bouts of customer service in between paragraphs)!
So the thing on my mind today is planning. I’ve been having a discussion with my girlfriend (and business partner) about what we want our lives to look like in the future. We came up with a plan about two years ago and have followed it almost to the tee, but now that plan seems to be coming to its natural conclusion and it leaves a noticeable void. So it has had me thinking, what is the right amount of time to plan ahead for? What kind of things should you include in the plan and how often do you check back to see if you are progressing well?
The only way I can see to create the new plan is to evaluate the successes and failures of the current two-year plan that I have followed.
Two years. Looking around I see that the average plan lengths seem to be three to five years depending on what they are for (or basically for no good reason). I feel that the two year plan has actually been a good length and it seems that things are more or less moving towards a conclusion without forcing the pace. I do see how a three year plan could be beneficial because it would give time to work on even larger goals, but at the same time, I feel many things would have several phases during that amount of time and so it actually may end up being a series of shorter plans. Overall I think I am happy with two years. Enough time to work hard at something, not so much time that your entire life is different when you get to the end.
One thing that my previous planning lacked was some scheduled check ups. How often do you look back at your plan and measure your progress? I have been doing this randomly and i’m not sure it has been the best strategy. Rather, a periodic look back at the goals seems to make sense. It needs to be long enough for things to happen but not too long becuase otherwise you can get quite far off track. Around every four months seems to make sense based on my experience. Twice a year is not enough, ever quarter it too cliche so therefore each four months it is!
Now we actually come to the meat in this planning sandwich. Why are we bothering? What aspects of life are we trying to change. Obviously this is a personal theme so if you don’t agree with what I am saying then all the best to you! My previous plan included work life, home life, hobbies and activities, travel and personal growth. That included starting a new company, moving to a new country, joining dancing and athletics clubs, visiting new countires and learning new languages. All of which I have achieved (yay!). For me these categories make sense becuase they align with things I find important in life, if they don’t make sense for you then feel free to brainstorm and change them!
Measurability and Accountability
Two key but often overlooked things when it comes to planning anything. How will you measure the success of a goal and what happens if you are falling behind? For my goals I always intend (if I am able) to specify a numerical value to them. That can be once a month or it can be do X thing twice. This is the key to measurability. Accountability can be more difficult because it means you need to consider what will happen if you’re not reaching your targets. One of the best ways to find accountability is to share your plan with others (like I am about to do here!). It can be with a friend, family member or even better both make plans and take the journey together. I’ve always found the more people you can get involved the better things go!
So…Time to Plan
Timeframe – Two years.
Check-Ups – Every Four Months.
Work – Open up two more large stores in Barcelona. Create a plan for Madrid expension. Create new online or finance based business that develops my technology skills.
Home Life – More time with friend and family (a trip to see them montly), dedicated time with girlfriend weekly.
Hobbies and Activities – Continue athletics and compete in competitions, read more books (min. 1 per month if possible), write more articles (1 weekly at least).
Travel – Visit a new country every second month at least.
Personal Growth – Learn Manderin and Programming to an usable level.
And that concludes my thoughts on life planning. And now you can hold me to these when I haven’t completed them in two years time. See you in four months for the first check-up!