Planning your best life Part 2 – My Plan

View in a car's rear view mirroe

I was chatting with someone at work the other day about the Corona Lockdown and how comfortable I had felt with having a socially and legally acceptable excuse for staying at home.

I said to my  colleague, “I know I am not shy and I am pretty outgoing, but deep down I am really an introvert”

He said, “I know you are, you have too many self-improvement goals not to be an introvert!”

He explained further, perhaps in response to the look on my face which was somewhere between horror and amusement,  “I mean you find your sense of being and energy from within you not outside of you. You set your own goals and don’t rely on others.”

That made me feel better. In the seconds between his first and second statements, I was in my usual way, dissecting what he had said and imagining that I must be presenting to the world as some crazy list driven old lady rabbiting on to anyone who’ll listen!

But hey! I am a list driven person! I need external accountability. I need apps like Habitbul to tell me how many days I haven’t eaten sugar for, or how many days I have been without alcohol. I am the sort of person who starts “eating better” on the first of the month. If it’s a Monday, that’s particularly portentous! I tell people I am having a Year of Zero. Telling anyone who has access to the internet, (via this blog), to hold me accountable. You all become my accountability partners!

Strategic planning meets ikigai.

It should not surprise you then, that I have a written plan for my future. Plan is perhaps a bit generous, as it is not a sequential step by step map, but rather a framework of intentions. A reminder to myself of what I want to do and achieve in the time I have left. It is based loosely on the model for ikigai and my school’s strategic plan!

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that translates as “your reason for getting out of bed in the morning”.

To be happy and thriving, your life pursuits need to be harmonious. Your values, what you’re good at, what the world needs and what you can make money from should combine to make an elegant and mathematical Venn diagram.  Your mission, passion, vocation and profession can combine to give you a longer life.

This diagram from Thrive Global, illustrates the concept.

Screen Shot 2020-05-19 at 17.45.50

 

NSW public schools must have a three-year strategic plan with three strategic directions. These strategic plans are published and must be reported on at regular intervals. The strategic directions are then broken into activities or projects which determine what the school is going to be focusing on for the next three years. (I copied these plans from a random high school)

 

My Framework for the future

I like the idea of having an overarching framework and combining the elegance of ikigai, with the logic of the school plan, worked for me. The interdependence of the different aspects of projects is something not illustrated in the strategic plan.

My framework has three spheres

  1. Health and Wellbeing
  2. The day job
  3. Creative maker.

 

strategic directions update October 2018_Page_1

strategic directions update October 2018_Page_2

 

In each of these spheres, there are some projects which I consider to be important for this time in my life. When I retire, the “Day Job” circle will have to be adapted.

This framework gives me some direction and helps me stay focused. I re-read it every couple of months and do a mental check of how I am travelling. Do I need to reconsider or refine my Projects? Are they still relevant? On the other hand, the framework is not an ironclad promise, but a guide.

I think without it I would be lost and chasing after every shiny thing that comes my way.

I think it is helpful to sit down and take stock of what you are doing, where you have been and where you are going. This is especially important after a big change in life circumstances like divorce or even after something like this Pandemic.

What is important to you? How can you make it your focus? What do you have to start doing and importantly what do you have to stop doing to make it happen?

Yes, I do make lists. Yes, I do have self-improvement projects. They give me a map to follow but also allow me to look for new paths. I am happy for you to share my framework, but make sure you fill in your own blanks.  Find you own ikigai!

Planning your best life.

Do you want to live your best life? What does that even mean? Have you ever felt that if you did everything you were supposed to do, to keep yourself fit and healthy, you would run out of time? Is it even possible to fit it all into a standard 24 hour day?

Screenshot 2019-10-25 21.39.39
Got any plans for July yet?

All those things like daily exercise, adequate sleep, cooking healthy food from scratch from the organic produce you bought plastic-free from the local farmers’ market, saving the planet by not wasting stuff, feeding your worm farm, and staying in contact with your friends and family!

All these potentially optional activities overlay the fact that many of us actually have to go out and earn a living for a significant portion of the day, as well as the time taken to commute.

For those of you with families and children, you have to add on yet another layer of complexity as you juggle the mental load of managing family life.  Like shopping, washing, housework, organising kids and their activities etc etc. etc….

Is there a silver lining in the Global Pandemic?

No wonder so many people have found a silver lining in the “Great Global Quarantine of 2020”. The wide scale and permitted (nay encouraged and lawful) rolling back of activities and the fact that you have a very good excuse for not running around frantically, has given us that breathing space to see another way.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the change in the Corona Zeitgeist as people began to realise there was a quieter, slower (dare I say it more meaningful) life to be had.

But how can we maintain a slower pace of living in the long term? We do have to get back to work eventually.  Soccer training, ballet lessons, and book club will be back on sooner than we want it to be. (By the time this is published, normal may well have returned!)

You need to plan for slow living if you want it! I don’t just mean planning your activities but sitting down and thinking about who you want to be in 20 years time.

Empty Calendar
No events! The P&C meeting was cancelled too!

 

Setting your lifestyle climate.

Perhaps we need to look more at our lifestyle-climate rather than always being focused on the current lifestyle-weather? Climate and weather are different ways of looking at our physical environment. One is long term, the other, short term. We are familiar with using these terms when we are talking about the temperature outside and whether it is raining or not.

“Though they are closely related, weather and climate aren’t the same thing. Climate is what you expect. Weather is what actually happens.” 

For many of us, we have crammed so many things into our daily life we are experiencing shit-storms every day! The weather is crap! Just like the global climate change that is causing our planet to heat up, the expectations of modern life have caused our own lives to warm up to intolerable levels. We beat ourselves up by comparing ourselves to others.

The lockdown has shown us we can move to someplace with a better climate! Where things are not so busy.  Where things are not so hectic, and where you don’t have to yell at your kids to get ready for piano lessons!

We let so much of our lives just happen without thinking about it. In general, we set short term goals, if any. We worry more about the weather, and less about the climate.

It’s time to balance our lifestyle-climate so we can manage the life-style weather. We need to map out what we expect and want from our lives more deliberately and only do those things that make the daily weather manageable.

Look at the big picture

I am advocating taking a bigger picture view of your life. To make a calculated plan. Not just go from day to day and pile stuff on. To accommodate the things you think are important and to not put too much pressure on yourself when you end up having pizza from the box in front of Netflix because you can’t be arsed cooking lentils again!

For instance, if you decide that exercise is an important part of your lifestyle-climate, look at it long term.  Perhaps you don’t get a chance to exercise every day but if you look back over the year and see that you exercised more days then you didn’t, then that’s a win.

If you managed to cook healthy meals for 80%  of the 365 days – that’s a win!

Avoided plastic and waste most days?  That’s a win!

Kids involved in one activity? That’s a win!

Made a plan? That’s a big win!

P1070642Jordan Montana
Your plan need not be rigid, but should not be so flexible it blows away with the first breeze. It needs to be anchored by strong roots.

Next week, I will share my lifestyle plan. You may be surprised to know, I do have one! (sic). I sometimes need reminding to stick to it!