New Year Planning – It Could Change Your Life

All, Business, Living Adventures     by Dan Muhlenkamp

whypm-01Every year, at least for the last 10 years, around this time I do a little life planning.  I’ve found it to be EXTREMELY helpful, so I thought I would share it.  It’s not terribly ingenious, but it takes some time.  If you are honest with yourself, it will probably be very helpful.

Most successful businesses develop business plans.  I’m sure you’ve heard the quote, “Most people don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan”.  So some years ago I was working on a business plan when I suddenly realized I had never applied those planning principles to my personal life.  I did it, and have never quit.

I’ll try to walk you through it now.  I’m going to keep it very, very simple and short, but I encourage you to think and pray about this.  It really is important that you be honest and candid with yourself.

Step 1: Write A Mission Statement

What gets you up in the morning?  If you were guaranteed success in a perfect world, what would you do all day long? Be passionate about something.  Life is too short to live in desperate mediocrity.  You don’t have to set the world on fire, but life is better when YOU are on fire.  As an example, I’ll share my personal mission statement.

  • My Mission: To give glory to God, and lead others to Christ, by leading as Jesus would lead.

Mission statements are long term things, not things that change a lot.  I’ve changed 2 words in this in the last 5 years.

Step 2:  Write Down Your Core Values

Core values are the things that you are determined to live by.  They are what you consider when you have to make a difficult decision.  They are beliefs and values that make you feel guilty when you violate them, and give you peace when you live by them, even if it cost you something.   These are some of mine.  Yeah, I know I’m corny.  Deal with it.

  • My Values:
    • Live and act only to glorify God.
    • Love without limit, my God and my neighbor.
    • Faithfulness to God and his word.
    • Forgiveness – always, even if it crucifies me.
    • Humility – He is the vine, I’m just a branch.
    • Gratitude: Jesus died for me, life is an attitude of gratitude
    • Joyfulness – live it, spread it, be it.
    • Honesty – with God, myself, and everyone else.
    • Charity – selfless giving all the way to the cross.

Step 3: S.W.O.T Analysis

Many of you probably know that S.W.O.T. is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  This doesn’t need a lot of explaining.  Look at yourself and your life, take a breath, say a prayer, and start writing.  Don’t be picky here, just start writing.  If you have a long list, that’s great.  You can always throw things out later.

Strengths – What are you good at?  What is working in your life?  Who are the people around you?  What resources are available to you? You get the idea.

Weaknesses – What your bad habits?  What’s not going well for you? What are you lacking that actually matters? What do you have that distracts from your mission? Often your weaknesses are the same as our strengths, just looked at from a different perspective.

Opportunities – Everyone has a million things going on around them all the time.  Often we don’t see these things as opportunities.  And don’t just think job.  Who around you do have the chance to help or influence?

Threats – Ok, lets admit it, sometimes crap happens.  Sometimes we are in situations that are time bombs…or at least firecrackers.  Admit the threats.

Now look the list over, and throw out a few, move a few around, and make sure you are dealing with reality.  If the lists pass the reality check, move on.

Step 4: Pick 2 or 3 goals for the year.

Don’t overdue it, but challenge yourself.  Decide on a few steps that will get you started on each goal.  Now put the paper somewhere you’ll handle it regularly.  Mine is my screen saver and at the top of my prayer journal.  Plan on looking at them every 3 months and see where you are on your goals, change your steps, or pat yourself on the back.

It’s that simple.  Now get excited, get growing, and get going.


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