Over the past ten years, people have always asked how I can get so much done. They wonder how do I find the time & energy to run multiple ministries at the same time, lead hundreds of volunteers, focus on my creative work, be a dad and husband, read lots of books and find time for myself. Well, I’ll let you in on my little secret. I write it down and plan for it. I call it, “My Personal Growth Plan”.
There is something special about writing your priorities and goals, both short-term and long-term. They give you a score card to evaluate if you are accomplishing what it is you need, and want, to accomplish. BUT it is not good enough to just write them down, create a plan and then forget about it…you have to be methodically looking it over and adjusting it. Your growth plan doesn’t have to be complex or filled with huge goals and dreams, it just needs to be attainable and organic.
The beauty of a growth plan is that is can, and should, be customized to anyone and no one plan looks like another. The first thing you want to do is decide what the main priorities and/or responsibilities are in your life. These are what I call the “Big Rocks” in my life. Too often we focus on things in our life that aren’t a real priority for us and we wonder why we can’t get anything done or advance or grow in our relationships and profession…and…we find that we are not fulfilled in our life…that we can’t get ahead. My Personal Growth Plan is broken up into sections based off of the main priorities and/or responsibilities in my life:
- Spiritual – My personal relationship with God is my first priority.
- Personal/Health – I have found that the older I get the more important it is to focus on this area.
- Family – My relationship with my wife and kids are my greatest responsibility.
- Financial/Stewardship – I have a mandate to be a good steward of what God has given me.
- Ministry/Community – This could be involvement in church or a non-profit or volunteering somewhere. I feel it is important to “give-back” to others. This is separate from spiritual b/c my “activity” doesn’t make me more spiritual.
- Professional/Education – Only after I take care of the ones above can I be a true success here. Sometimes though, b/c of my profession, this is a hard one not to mix with Ministry/Community, so in the above category I usually list things that aren’t tied directly to my line of work or pay check.
Once you establish the “Big Rocks” in your life, the next step is to think of some long-term goals that you may have for each category. I try to think about 1-2 years out. The key is not to think to far ahead or have too many to focus on, that way you can cross them off sometime in the near future and give yourself a sense of pride and accomplishment. If you want to think longer in the future, create another list under long-term goals, called “dreams” or “milestones”. After you establish your long-term goals, about 1-2 years out, create some short-term goals that will help you get to that long-term goal. Here are a few examples from My Personal Growth Plan:
- Personal/Health –
- short-term goal – work-out 3 times a week
- short-term goal – eat under 2000 calories
- short-term goal – read a little bit every day
- long-term goal – weigh 225 lbs
- long-term goal – read two books a month
- Financial/Stewardship –
- short-term goal – give 10% consistently to my local church
- short-term goal – pay off school loans
- short-term goal – put away 20% into emergency savings
- long-term goal – be debt free
- long-term goal – have 3 months of expenses in emergency fund
- long-term goal – live off of 70% of income
Once you reach a goal and/or it becomes a habit of your life, then replace it with another one that builds upon it. This is why it is important to periodically look at your growth plan and make adjustments. Let’s be honest, life changes rapidly and if you don’t adjust your plan with it…it becomes an out-dated piece of paper or just another “resolution” you failed to keep.
I hope this year in 2012, this little secret of mine helps you accomplish you dreams and brings you success in your life. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I keep my plan on my iPhone and computer and look at it at least once a month. It reminds me of what I really want to accomplish in life and what is important to me.
If you need some more help, comment below and I’ll do my best to help.