Before you can hit your goal, you must know what you’re aiming at. Abundant living will look very different for you than it does for anyone else. A big secret to success is to choose projects, enterprises, and pursuits that will bring you enjoyment. Start by setting some goals, and then create a plan to make that vision a reality. Here’s how to make life planning work for you.
- Starting Off on the Right Foot
- A Vision-Building Exercise
- Craft a Plan
- Finding a Planner
- Making It Happen
Starting Off on the Right Foot
Before we go any further with planning an abundant country lifestyle, we would be remiss if we failed to point out that truly abundant living cannot happen apart from God, the source of all blessings. We will never experience maximum joy if we pursue a course that deviates from the one He planned and created for us before time began.
So how do we plan a vision that’s in line with God’s will? It’s actually quite simple. Some aspects of God’s will are common to all humanity and are spelled out in His Word. According to Dr. John MacArthur in Found: God’s Will, the will of God for mankind in general can be summarized as five S’s:
- Saved (having through faith accepted Jesus Christ’s atoning work on the cross to pay for your sins).
- Spirit-filled (as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, etc.).
- Sanctified (having your body set apart for holy use as the temple of God).
- Submissive (respecting and obeying all authorities God has established, such as government).
- Suffering (specifically experiencing rejection because of your faith).
Psalm 37:4 promises that if we delight ourselves in the Lord (as evidenced by the five S’s above), He will give us the desires of our hearts. This does not mean He will grant our every wish. It means that He will give us the right desires.
In other words, as long as we are right with God, we can move forward in confidence that He is leading us onto the right path. We are then free in Christ to pursue whatever brings us pleasure because He is guiding us in that direction.
As you plan, therefore, don’t worry about what you “should” do or what you think others expect from you. Let your vision come straight from the heart.
A Vision-Building Exercise
So now that our priorities are in order, let’s have some fun and envision what the future looks like.
While daydreaming can be delightful, it’s important to write down our most important visions for several reasons. For one thing, it cements them into our memory. For another thing, it makes them more concrete, incentivizing us to take action and make them reality. (And, no, typing ideas out on a computer or device does not reap these benefits; paper is a must for this stage.)
A great way to get a handle on which dreams we value most and what direction we want to pursue is to create a chart. The columns represent where we want to be in one year, five years, ten years, and over the course of our lifetime. The rows represent different aspects of our vision:
- Personal goals.
- Ways to give back.
- Anything else that is important to you (health, travel, learning, etc.).
If filling out a chart like this doesn’t inspire you, find another way to get your vision on paper:
- Draw a picture.
- Make a mind map.
- Create a bucket list.
- Schedule out your perfect day.
- Narrate your vision in story form.
- Write a list of words that inspire and motivate you.
- Cut out images from catalogs and magazines and paste them onto a vision board.
- Close your eyes and visualize the future until you have a crystal-clear mental image, then describe it in writing.
Whatever motivates you, do that! Just be sure to get a rounded picture of your vision onto physical paper somehow.
Craft a Plan
Once you know what you’re aiming at, you need a plan to get there. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and it certainly doesn’t have to include every step (most likely it can’t). The objective at this point is to create a series of milestones that will take you to your vision.
Perhaps one of the best ways to accomplish this is to list 10 milestones (or projects, if you prefer) that build upon one another and add up to your vision. You can even draw this path out into a roadmap or treasure map if you like. Another alternative is to write it out in checklist form.
The first milestone you choose is the most important, because it is where you will start. Many people have a hard time maintaining interest in long-duration goals, so make it something you can crush in 90 days or less.
Once you have your first milestone on paper, make it even easier to attain by breaking it down into three parts. On a piece of paper, write out this milestone and the three major steps you will take to reach it.
Finding a Planner
Now you need a way to incorporate your vision and plan into your daily routine. Here’s where planners come into play.
First you will want to find a planner that works for you. One that brings you joy and motivation whenever you look at it. One that has you feeling good at the end of the day because you know that you spent your time on things that mattered. What that looks like will be different for every person, and you will likely need to spend some time and money shopping around until you hit upon the right tool. But whatever you do, don’t settle for second-best in this case! Do not commit to using a planner until you have found one that works for you, instead of the other way around.
To get you started off on the right foot, consider what features are a must for your planner:
- Monthly, weekly, and/or daily planning pages?
- Hourly schedules?
- Big 3 (or 5)?
- Daily reviews?
- Blank or lined note pages?
- Vision-planning tools?
- Places to write down goals?
- Prompts for staying rounded?
- Time-blocking tools?
- Morning and evening routines?
- Habit tracker?
- Progress indicators?
- Gratitude journal?
- Inspiring quotes?
- Fun stickers?
- Compact size?
- Spiral binding?
Yes, there are apps that can help you with all of this. But we would urge you to seriously consider using a printed planner instead. Again, writing cements information in our heads. Furthermore, having a written record can propel us to action and remind us of our priorities for the day.
Making It Happen
The final stage of the planning process is to fit your vision and plan into your daily routine. The idea is to spend time every day living your ideal lifestyle and bringing yourself closer to your goals and dreams.
Everyone has different preferences when it comes to their daily routine. Common preferences include:
- Setting three to five priorities for the day.
- Assigning a specific project to each day of the week.
- Scheduling in anywhere from one-hour to five-minute increments.
- Eating the frog (i.e., tackling the least desirable task first thing in the morning).
- Working down a prioritized to-do list (this is where apps can actually be beneficial).
There is no one “right” way to schedule, and the reality is that most people will probably benefit from using a combination of methods.
Different planners take different approaches to the day. If you put in the effort to find one that matches your preferred approach, your work of planning is already almost finished.
The rest is a matter of letting your vision and plan drive your day (please leave yourself some free time). Many planners are set up to aid this process, but if you have gone with something a little more generic, consider at a minimum prioritizing your to-do list and writing down monthly and/or weekly goals to keep yourself on track.
There’s nothing quite like coming to the end of the day and knowing that you spent your time on things that mattered. That’s the objective.