How do we “develop a real plan for a better life?”

Trent Hamm tells us we start by selecting the areas of our lives on which we want to focus (step one), outline where we are currently (step two), where we want to be in five or ten years (step three), and brainstorm five to fifteen possible actions or projects that would move us from the current state to the desired state (step four).

Then, Trent tells us, we let it rest (step five).

“Why do this? Why not take action now when all of this is fresh?” asks Trent.  “The reason is that while this plan might be exciting, it’s also still fairly rough. It’s full of great ideas in the moment, but you shouldn’t commit your future to something you considered deeply only that day.  Your plans will fall flat if you do that,” he warns.

Instead, we let our plan marinate.  Trent recommends letting it sit for 30 days.  I’m a bit more impatient, so I typically give it a week or maybe just a couple of days.  

The benefit?

During this time writes Trent, “I thought a lot about what I had written and I revised the plan significantly, eliminating some unrealistic bits, adding some details, modifying the action steps, and so on…  You might have a big revelation or two during that month, and that’s great.  Just pull out your draft and jot down that idea, then put the whole thing away again.”

Step six involves setting aside another block of time to read and edit our first draft.  We simply sit down with a pen in hand and read our plan.  Whenever we see something that strikes us as not quite right, we edit it.  We add new ideas and new sentences.

“That refinement is invaluable,” writes Trent.  “It takes something that’s merely interesting and solid into something that really strikes a deep chord.”

Now, it’s time for step seven: the big finale.

We go through all of the possible projects and actions and choose ten or so big things we can work on in the next year to move us toward our envisioned future.  Note: the goal is to select the ten goals we are most excited about.  We may or may not have a goal from each of the areas of our life.

“Look for ones that really ring out to you as exciting and meaningful,” Trent suggests.  “What ones really seem as though they’d produce great results?  What ones seem like they’d be incredibly powerful to actually execute?”

When you’ve chosen ten or so, make a nice, clear list of those actions.  “It’s a good idea to make sure these subscribe to the “SMART goal” rubric: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Is it very clear what you want to do? Can you easily measure your progress (an easy way to do this is to have the goal involve a number)? Is it something you can actually pull off in a year?”

Decide THIS year will be the year of those things.


Reflection: What are the ten specific actions or projects I am most excited about taking on this year?

Action: Journal about the above.

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