Notes from the online course – How to Be Your Own Life Coach – Lesson 3. – Life: Plans, Practicality, and Possibility
Recommended Reading: A guide to creating your life plan
So we start by taking that dream life you’ve imagined, the complex world you think would bring you the most happiness, and stripping it down. Eliminate the parts that may make you happy, but are not a priority. Try to pick 1-2 pieces of each step that are truly important to you or simply identify the 12-15 most important aspects of the life. If you’d like to lose 20 pounds, but know that it is really not that important, take it off the list. If you think others find it silly that you want to volunteer as a clown but it brings you strong feelings of happiness, keep it! This is all about finding what truly matters to you in the long run. If you have repetitious themes or statements that are obvious because of the exercise, eliminate the extra fluff.
Some choices may be difficult to face – if you are in an unhealthy relationship and love that person but cannot imagine a happy place where they’re with you, it can be scary. If you really want children but cannot conceive, it may hurt. Just stick to what would make you happiest in your future and we will tackle the logistics later in the lesson. The most important thing to remember is that you cannot control the desires and actions of others. When you picture your happy life but it is contingent upon someone else changing, you cannot keep that in your imagined future. But you do not have to make any big decisions right now, just determine the truth of what makes you happy and what doesn’t and what you have control over and what you do not.
An example of this exercise might be as follows:
When I imagine what my life could be someday, there is a lot of peace in it. I imagine a small house, owned by us, filled with unique pieces and a warm, fun feeling. I want the feelings of coziness and home along with a sense of whimsy and interest. I want a place my husband looks forward to coming home to where we both keep it clean and orderly. I want a place nearby to go swimming; preferably a backyard pool or something semi-private, but a gym or similar would be fine. Ideally, we’d live on the coast.
I am okay with there being kids in the home, and I am okay if there are not. Perhaps nieces and nephews can visit and we can play a role in their lives without having children of our own, if that is what we determine we want to do.
I work or volunteer part-time outside of the home for something I feel passionate about. It will preferably be largely unsupervised or with limited contact with overseers. I supplement my earnings, unless I can sustain us alone on doing this, with working from the home, doing writing or working online. My schedule is fairly relaxed, with the flexibility to respond well to illness or creative flow. I also craft, spending a lot of time painting.
We have friends and family we see, though we operate at a different pace than the outside world, and with oftentimes different priorities. We handle things as they come, with purposeful decisions and plenty of time in quiet. We add to this atmosphere the fun of having those family and friends over for dinners or game nights. We have our own game nights and our own dinners and dates too, of course. We spend time alone and together and we focus on each other as individuals as well as on our marriage.
Financially, we’re strong. No long-term credit card debt, no or little car payments. Student loans of course and a house payment, but hopefully not a big one. We are careful with money, but have it to spend as we need and for special occasions. We have solid credit ratings, reasonable debt, and will have money for retirement.
I am about 40 pounds under my current weight. I exercise regularly, mostly swimming, but with some Pilates or tai chi added in. My mental well-being is good and restful. I no longer have diabetes or fibromyalgia. I look good and I feel good.
I feel a strong connection to God. I have a strong church community where we are welcomed and a part of things. I feel guided by what I believe my life should be to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
What was a wide and varied dream life is broken down into what matters the most. In this example, the author owning their own home was a dream, but was determined to not be necessary for the author to truly be happy.
Now, take your prioritized dreams and make a list of what you want. For the example above, the list would be as follows:
- I want a small house that is warm and inviting that reflects who I am.
- I want our home to be neat and orderly so that it is a peaceful place for my husband and me.
- I want a place where I can go swimming for exercise.
- I want to work or volunteer for something I feel passionate about.
- I want a flexible schedule.
- I want to entertain and enjoy family and friends in our home.
- I want my husband and I to spend quality time together and make our marriage a priority.
- I want to have enough money to meet our needs.
- I want to have limited debt, good credit, and savings.
- I want to lose 40 pounds.
- I want to be mentally healthy.
- I want to engage in a relationship with God.
- I want to live my life in accordance with what I believe is God’s mission for me.
All of the sudden, you will begin to realize how close you already are to the life you want to live. More importantly, you have identified precisely what you need to be happy. These desires can now be put into goals. You are likely familiar with the concept of SMART goals. As you evaluate yourself and then set goals to take your life the direction you want it, you must use (whenever possible), SMART goals. For those unfamiliar with SMART goals, the idea is to create goals that are:
Specific – Rather than a large-concept goal, break what you want down into a specific objective.
Measurable – The goal must be concrete and measurable rather than a general concept.
Attainable – Your goals must be realistic. As you break your “I want” statements down, think of the possibilities. Think outside the box to find a way that your desire can be attainable.
Relevant – There must be a direct connection between your “I want” statement and the goal you decide to achieve it.
Time-Bound – Make sure that your goals have a deadline! If you have to change it, that’s okay, but it is important to start with a deadline so that you are accountable.
Break each of your statements down into SMART goals. For long-term dreams, focus on the first step of how to get where you want and leave the next steps for later.