This week, we are exploring a goal-setting methodology from Trent Hamm called “Developing a Real Plan for a Better Life.”

Yesterday, we looked at step one: selecting the areas of our life we want to focus on.

1: Today, we turn to steps two, three, and four. Step two begins with blocking off some quiet time to do the necessary work.  

“While it’s great to give this process some off-the-cuff thoughts, the whole plan turns out far better and far more realistic and meaningful if you actually wall off some time to make a good plan,” writes Trent. He blocks off an entire day to do this work. In my experience, by reducing the number of areas of our lives we want to focus on, we can reduce the amount of time required.

Now we write down where we currently stand in these areas. We answer the questions below for each aspect of our life.   

*Do I generally feel good about it, or not so good? Why?  

*What parts of this area are going well right now? What’s good about this area?

*What isn’t working?  

*What makes me happy?  

*What makes me sad?

For example, if we’ve decided to create personal and professional goals, we answer the following questions for both areas. As I mentioned yesterday, I have six areas of my life that I create goals for (the six F’s: Faith, Fitness, Family, Function/Career, Finances, and Fun), so I answer the questions for each area.

2: Next, for step three, we look into the future and envision what our lives would look like in five or ten years if we saw some significant progress in each area of our life. For each category, we write a paragraph or two about what life would be like if we were to find reasonable success from our efforts in this specific area.  

Trent writes: “If I put in a few hours a week into this area of my life for the next few years, what might I achieve? For example, if I were to exercise for three hours a week for the next five years, what would that look like in terms of my physical body?”

“Nothing world-breaking,” writes Trent, “but something I’d be very happy with.”

The key here is to focus on actions that we control.  

By answering the questions in steps two and three, we have created dynamic tension in our minds between our current state and our imagined future state. In doing so, we are putting our subconscious mind to work to our advantage. We have outlined the gap between where we are today and where we want to be in the future. Our brains do not like this gap and immediately go to work closing the gap–which is one of the key reasons goal-setting works.

3: Step four involves making a specific list for each life category of five, ten, or fifteen specific things we might do to move our lives from where we are today toward our desired future outcome.

We ask ourselves: “What action steps and projects could I take? What might I do over the next few years that would help move me from point A to point B?” Again, we want to focus on actions we control.  

We are brainstorming, getting as many thoughts and ideas on paper as possible. The more, the better! We are not committing ourselves to doing all of these actions or projects. Instead, we are creating a list in each category of all the things we could do. Often our first thoughts are not our best ones, so it is smart to come up with as many ideas as possible.   

“What will happen as we move through this process,” writes Trent, “is that we come up with a lot of things we could do to build a better life – an overwhelming number, in fact. Don’t worry about it yet-– we’re not done.”

More tomorrow.


Reflection: Where am I currently in each critical area of my life? What would I like each area of my life to look like in five years? What are 10-15 specific actions I could take to make progress in each area of my life?

Action: Journal about the above.

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