How Creating an Annual Plan Helps You Tell a Better Story

While the overall purpose for having a plan is to become more and more intentional with our decisions and give ourselves the best chance to succeed, there is something else that having a plan can do.

A playbook or a plan for the year, a system of goals and habits, can be sterile. In reality, the type of plan that we’ll be working on in the Starting Well Challenge is more or less a building block toward an overall life plan (check out Michael Hyatt’s wonderful and free resource on life planning).

A life plan–or even an annual plan–isn’t simply about hitting numbered goals. It’s about telling a better story with our lives.

Creating a New Story

Having goals can be an arbitrary practice. It’s never bad to have them, but it’s hard to be driven by them.

You select a number, give yourself a set amount of time, and see if you can hit the number–a weight, an income, a mileage for a run. If you don’t, you either try again or shame yourself and give up (or somewhere in between). There needs to be a compelling purpose behind the goal.

For example, let’s assume (rightly), that I’d like to weigh 180 lbs. I know I’ll feel better. I know I’ll be healthier.

But unless my plan of achieving 180 pounds is connected to a purpose, then my efforts will be weaker than they could be.

What if my goal of 180 pounds contributed to creating a better story? What if, instead of memories of tall stacks and heaps of bacon and ESPN every Saturday morning, I had memories of playing soccer with the kids in the park?

What if, instead of eating nachos and drinking too many beers every night, I set things in motion now that 30 years from now at 72 I will be dominating in the men’s doubles tennis leagues, right before going to see my grandkids and running around playing soccer in the park with them just like I did with their parents when I was 42?

180 is nice. But being healthy and energetic to give my kids and grandkids fun memories is a story with a purpose.

A Plan Supports the Story and the Story Supports the Plan

A plan and a story go hand in hand. The story we want to tell is the ‘why’ of our plan. But the plan provides the ‘how’ and ‘what’.  If you don’t have both, achieving the goal will be difficult.

Having a fun dreamy story is nice, but without a plan, it’s a dream. Having a plan and a goal in mind is helpful, but without a story or dream attached, it’s tough to find the motivation.

Don Miller, in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, talks at length about the fact that most of us are not telling compelling stories with our lives.

He writes,

“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you’re going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it… People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”

Having a plan is the first step toward doing the work it takes to create a great story.

To that end, I’d love you to join us starting this Thursday, January 2. That’s when the 2014 Starting Well Challenge will get underway.

We’ll focus mostly on how to create a plan to leverage your talents, time, and even treasure to help you create great stories for the upcoming year and beyond.  We’ll spend at least one day on this idea of story.

The Challenge will consist of 14 daily emails, walking you through a process to do the following:

  1. Review 2013.
  2. Brainstorm and filter a set of goals, outcomes, or changes for 2014.
  3. Identify your contexts or roles – and the stories you want to tell in each of those roles.
  4. Help install practices to support the outcomes you want.
  5. Create a personal culture to give yourself the best chance to win.

Enter your name and email below or follow this link to sign up. It’s free (although you’ll be on this blog’s email list – which is easily unsubscribable when the Challenge is done).

2014 Starting Well Challenge

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