By Chris Parnham.
Planning life goals or business objectives can often feel like looking at the pieces of a jigsaw, spread randomly across the table. We may know where we want to go in life, but it’s the journey that often baffles us. Just like with the jigsaw, we can see the outcome by looking at the picture on the lid. But where do we begin?
With any life goal, it’s best to start with some anchors.
What are the easy solid pieces of your future self that are absolutely vital, and fairly easy to achieve? You might have them already, but it’s part of your future vision to protect and grow these assets. Perhaps they are good health, a close family, a safe home and financial security.
With a jigsaw, these anchors are the corners. There are only four of these in the pile so they are easy to find, and as they can only be placed in one of 4 places, they are easy to land. The same goes for your life anchors. Good health is something you can take ownership for at any age. Focus on a balanced diet combined with some exercise and don’t abuse your body or take it for granted. Your family only require a little of your time and consideration, and in return they will always be your safety net, your champions and your safe haven. Home and financial security are obvious priorities and need to be nailed before you reach for higher goals. Financial security is not the same as wealth, that can come later, it’s just living comfortably within your means.
Once the four corners of the jigsaw are in place, your life anchors, the next and most important phase of life goal planning is to look to the sky.
Look up and wonder what you want your life to look like in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time, up to and past retirement. Just like the pieces of the jigsaw that make the sky, these ambitions don’t require any detail, and they can overlap, blending into one, but they need to be separated out from the details on the ground, as these are blue-sky ambitions, not plans. You don’t have to know how to get there, you just have to see it.
Your blue-sky goals may include a certain type of home, or a home on a certain street, a detached country cottage, a river apartment, a bungalow by the sea. Another might be a wealth goal, just how rich do you really need to be, what kind of lifestyle do you crave? A career change or a new skill may also form one of your future goals, as might some key acquisitions like a car, a second home, or an investment. Be sure to include some life experiences as goals too, is there anywhere you really want to see, visit or experience?
Once you have removed the sky pieces from the jigsaw of life, don’t place them yet. It’s best to now work on the pile of remaining details from the ground up. Your four corners are in place, and you have removed about 25% of the pieces that represent the sky, so the job of placing the remaining pieces is now markedly easier.
Each remaining piece is different and only fits on one space. These are the tasks that will help you achieve your goals. In life, you can begin with these right away.
Are your corners solid? Do you take care of your health, do you give time to your family, do you balance your finances and are you investing in your home?
If you do then you can look to the remaining pieces in order to pave the way to your blue-sky life goals. Each piece marks a task that you can prepare for. As you think about a life goal what are the initial easy steps you can take to get a little closer. If a career change is a goal, then start to research your chosen career, map out the journey for change. Stop investing so much time and effort in your current job, if the goal is to leave it. Make some time to focus on the change.
Whatever your life goal, think about what you can stop doing in order to create available time to focus on this goal. What are you doing that is slowing down achievement of this goal? Goals are rarely achieved by accident; they require a change. If you continue living your life the way you have lived it for the last 10 years, then chances are the next 10 will be just the same. This may be ok, but not if your life goals require something different. Without change, nothing new happens.
Think about life’s jigsaw. Know what your lid looks like, what the future looks like, and then once you’ve checked your four corners are solid and in place, look to the sky. Create your goals, then put them to one side and get to work on the small pieces of detail that will get you there.