Life Design worksheet
As promised in my last newsletter, I’ve been working on an article about annual planning. Collecting my thoughts and ideas, I realized that I could simply copy/paste what I’ve written in my book, where I’ve written about Life Design, goal-setting, thinking about your life in weeks, and various other techniques. I believe these to be the essential elements of lifestyle, but I’m guessing that you’ll read the book if you want the details.
Design your life with this free worksheet
So instead of serving you a five-thousand-word piece on Why, I’ve put together a simple Google Docs worksheet that will provide the How and help you get started.
How to start designing your life
Set aside some quiet time when you can be alone and think in silence. Turn off any distractions, and get into your dreaming mode.
The most minimalist version merely entails taking the Google Doc, making a copy, and then editing it with your thoughts.
The optimal version is to watch the three linked YouTube videos (total watch time ~31 minutes) and then use the worksheet to record your plans.
Design-think your life
Bill Burnett’s 25-minute TED talk about designing your life is well worth watching and will help you to think about the three different five-year versions of you.
Total Leadership way for annual planning
Then we’re moving onto the current year, thinking about the Total Leadership way and building our four circles: Work, Home, Community, and Self.
Alternatively, you might use the shorter (more selfish?) version of simply looking into your Health, Wealth, and Self-development.
Once our 5-year vision and the annual goals are set, it’s time to dig into the next 90 days. If you’re too lazy to do anything else, skip the rest, and simply start here at the bottom. Do this and change your life. I've written about this in my book, and here's an excerpt:
90-day Tom Mendoza goals
The days are long, but the years are short. That’s the quote I first heard from Gretchen Rubin. Ponder on that quote for a moment.
Done? Okay, let’s move on.
Tom Mendoza is the retired Vice Chairman and a legend of NetApp. Look up the lecture he gave at West Point. That’s the one that changed my goal-setting life.
The premise is simple: set yourself 3 personal and 3 professional goals you’d like to achieve within the next ninety days. Write them down, set aside. Let them marinate for a day or so, then review again with some objective distance. Judge them as per the SMART method.
Then revisit weekly/monthly or whatever you’ll find works for you. I do them each calendar quarter; so for example, at the time of this writing, I have an Evernote note titled July-August-September / Tom Mendoza 90-day goals. Yeah, I really call them like that! They have a reminder set for September 30th, 2020, so they’ll pop up on all my devices, and I’ll also get an email. That day is the deadline when I’ll review my success rate against these goals and set the new ones for the next 90-day period.
At first, this requires some getting-used-to and some discipline. I even had to set myself a calendar reminders to check my current goals weekly. With years, this turned into a habit, so now I tend to look at them multiple times a week. It’s easy to decide where you’ll invest your time if you know where you’d like to go. At least for me, it keeps me honest and accountable. Disciplined. And Discipline equals freedom, as Jocko Willink says.
Keep your Life Design worksheet visible
Lastly, copy/paste your Life Design worksheet somewhere you can notice it every day. I keep it in my Evernote’s Reminders, separately for the 5-year option, 2021 plan, and the current 90-day goals. They have relevant reminders for the reviews, and I refer to them at least once a week. This helps me prioritize time and tasks so that I can stay on track.
Review and adjust
If you’re not yet used to it, put some reminders into your calendar. It’s easy to set a 10-minute slot once per week to review the 90-day goals and to check-in with the annual plan once a month. After a while, you’ll notice this comes naturally.
Reviews are a super important part of this process, as they help us stay focused, adjust our course (or our goals!), and help us find meaning — especially in times of stress.
Try it out, and if it doesn’t work, you’ll get your money back ;-)
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